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      Depression, Mental Health and Crisis Support   06/04/2017

      Depression, Mental Health and Crisis Support   Depression and other mental health difficulties are common amongst people on the autistic spectrum and their carers.   People who are affected by general mental health difficulties are encouraged to receive and share information, support and advice with other forum members, though it is important to point out that this exchange of information is generally based on personal experience and opinions, and is not a substitute for professional medical help.   There is a list of sources of mental health support here: <a href="http://www.asd-forum.org.uk/forum/index.php?showtopic=18801" target="_blank">Mental Health Resources link</a>   People may experience a more serious crisis with their mental health and need urgent medical assistance and advice. However well intentioned, this is not an area of support that the forum can or should be attempting to offer and we would urge members who are feeling at risk of self-harm or suicide to contact either their own GP/health centre, or if out of hours contact NHS Direct on 0845 4647 or to call emergency services 999.   We want to reassure members that they have our full support in offering and seeking advice and information on general mental health issues. Members asking for information in order to help a person in their care are seeking to empower both themselves and those they represent, and we would naturally welcome any such dialogue on the forum.   However, any posts which are deemed to contain inference of personal intent to self-harm and/or suicide will be removed from the forum and that person will be contacted via the pm system with advice on where to seek appropriate help.   In addition to the post being removed, if a forum member is deemed to indicate an immediate risk to themselves, and are unable to be contacted via the pm system, the moderating team will take steps to ensure that person's safety. This may involve breaking previous confidentiality agreements and/or contacting the emergency services on that person's behalf.   Sometimes posts referring to self-harm do not indicate an immediate risk, but they may contain material which others find inappropriate or distressing. This type of post will also be removed from the public forum at the moderator's/administrator's discretion, considering the forum user base as a whole.   If any member receives a PM indicating an immediate risk and is not in a position (or does not want) to intervene, they should forward the PM to the moderating team, who will deal with the disclosure in accordance with the above guidelines.   We trust all members will appreciate the reasoning behind these guidelines, and our intention to urge any member struggling with suicidal feelings to seek and receive approproiate support from trained and experienced professional resources.   The forum guidelines have been updated to reflect the above.   Regards,   The mod/admin team

Aeolienne

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About Aeolienne

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  • Birthday February 21

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    Leamington Spa, Warks
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    Baroque music, green issues (esp. renewable energy), hillwalking, Quakerism, reading (astronomy, fiction, popular science), practical conservation, art exhibitions, royal-watching
  1. There's also a report about the company in the Financial Times, but it's not letting me copy and paste its contents. You may need to register to read this, but don't worry: you can read up to three articles a month for free. Chocolate entrepreneurs with a social aim
  2. (Not written by me) Inspiring Britain: The chocolate shop supporting young people with autism After the success of our Inspiring Britain series in 2017, ITV News has decided there is always time for good news - so we are continuing to bring you stories about people making a difference and inspiring others in their communities and beyond. When Ash was eight, his parents decided to leave Pakistan, as they thought bringing their autistic son up in their home country would be too difficult. When they finally reached the UK, Mona and Shaz Shah were determined to make sure their son had a fair chance at life. In 2011 Mona quit her job in finance and the couple set up Harry Specters chocolate shop, an award winning chocolatier with a special social mission. Not only does Harry Specters sell award winning chocolate, but it also offers a chance of employment to people with autism. People with autism can struggle in social situations and so it can be difficult for them to find a job, however, with the right help, they can be model employees. Mona said: "Only 16% of people with autism are in any kind of employment, over 60% on benefits are able to work, they're willing to work but there are no opportunities for them. She added: "They have so much to offer, they have so many hidden talents, and it is just they need an environment where they can actually be themselves." Since 2012, the company has helped almost 200 young people, offering them work experience and for many, a first chance at paid employment. The mother of one employee said: “I get quite emotional thinking about the look on Ross’s face when he showed me the cheque you gave him for his work. "It was not about the money, but the confidence and self-worth he was feeling.” Oliver Warren, a chocolatier at Charlie Specters, says he thinks it is great Shaz and Mona set up the business. He said: "They're like two angels if I had to put it in words, helping autistic kids, like these guys here. They are angels." He added: "I feel quite proud for these guys for being here and working hard every day, it's pretty good." People start work at Harry Specters with the aim of making chocolate, however those with autism can often realise they had talents that they didn't know about. "Here they can actually explore what they are good at, what they're not good at, because it is a very supportive and safe environment," said founder Mona. "So they might come in not knowing they're good at accounting, and then through their work experience, the work they've been doing here, they realise, 'actually accounting is something I want to do'. "So John does all our accounting work now" Shaz says autistic workers have an advantage over others at work, because they are "very direct". "If they are not able or comfortable in doing something they'll just say 'no I don't want to', which is nice." "They will not pretend that they're doing something, if there is nothing to do, they will just sit idol or come after you and ask 'what should I do?' Which is very unusual compared to the rest of the people." Source: ITV News
  3. ok who has Misophonia?

    I find certain people's laughs really jarring. Does that count?
  4. Christmas!

    Maybe eat in for Christmas Eve next time? That's what we've always done in my family.
  5. New member

    Congratulations to Chris for being recognised in the New Year's Honours list! More info
  6. (Not written by me) ‘Broken’ autistic teen, 19, left in tears after being conned out of £1,400 savings in World of Warcraft game scam Josh Smith's mother, Janine, says her son 'couldn't comprehend the idea that someone may have bad intentions' By Claudia Tanner Thursday December 6th 2018 Josh Smith was hoodwinked into buying extra services for his 'online friend' to use in the game Bank flagged the transactions and his mother explained to him he'd been conned Has now cancelled his World of Warcraft subscription – which he relied on to make friends – and won't play the game anymore Janine Smith says her son 'feels stupid' and will need counselling to cope Teenager Josh Smith believes everyone is genuine, honest and trustworthy. So when his mother, Janine, sat him down to explain that his new “online friend” had conned him into forking out £1,400 through a video game, he struggled to accept this was true. But when he realised it was, the tears came thick and fast for the 19-year-old. “Josh just thinks everyone is like him and he couldn’t comprehend the idea that someone may have bad intentions,” said Janine, 42, from Nutley [nr Uckfield], East Sussex. He’s been left broken by this. He said his faith in humanity had been lost Janine Smith “He just kept saying you’re wrong, he’s my friend he wouldn’t scam me. Then once he knew that this was the case he just fell apart. He’s been left broken by this. He said his faith in humanity had been lost.” It prompted his mother to launch a GoFundMe appeal to ask strangers to restore that faith – and Josh is now “overwhelmed” after more than £600 has rolled in. Making friends is difficult Josh was diagnosed with autism when he was two-and-a-half years old. “I have an older child and knew that he was behind in reaching milestones – making eye contact and learning to walk,” said Janine. “We had a birthday party for him when he was three and that was the last one ever. He really struggled with sensory overload from the noise of all the children and had a melt down.” Indeed, the World of Warcraft game has offered Josh an escape and way of coping. “He’s played it since he was about nine. The game provides him with predictability which helps him to make sense of the confusing world he finds himself in. “Because of his autism making friends is very difficult for Josh so he was very excited to have a new friend.” Around four weeks ago, this new “friend” convinced Josh to buy £1,400 worth of Blizzard Gift Game Cards and gift them by sending the codes, promising that he or she would pay him back. These cards provide items and services that help a user boost their game.Janine heard alarm bells when her son asked her for help in making another payment because his bank had flagged up one of the transactions as suspicious. “Josh is vulnerable because he believes everything people tell him. We’ve been lucky up until now that no-one at school or at college has ever bullied him or taken advantage of him. “Now he’s cancelled his World of Warcraft subscription and he won’t play the game anymore which he loved doing. It breaks my heart to see him so upset.”Autistic children ‘more trusting’ Children on the autism spectrum are more trusting than typically developing children, according to a study. A group of young, school-aged children with the disorder and typically developing (TD) peers of the same age participated in a simple hide-and-seek game. In the game, a researcher who was a stranger to the pupils pointed to or left a marker on a box to indicate the whereabouts of a hidden reward. Results showed that although the autistic children did not blindly trust any information provided by the unfamiliar adult, they appeared to be more trusting in the adult than their peers. Restoring faith Janine said she reported the incident to the police but hasn’t heard back. Josh received a £600 refund from his bank but it said it couldn’t reimburse him anymore as he had voluntarily made the payments.His mother had to go into Josh’s work to explain to his bosses why he “wasn’t himself” and would need extra support. Josh had been saving up the money to learn how to be independent and manage his own finances. Janine says her son is now “traumatised” and needs counselling with an autism specialist.“Josh has worked since he was 16 as a part-time greenkeeper and has recently gone full time,” she said. “He was saving from his salary so that he can pay for his own golf membership, driving lessons and car insurance but now that money is gone. It’s very touching that over £600 has been raised, it really helps to show him that people can be very kind Janine Smith“This has had such a negative effect on his mental health, he feels stupid, vulnerable and violated. “I wouldn’t normally resort to begging with an online appeal but I can’t afford to refund him. His counselling will cost £50 a session, and anything over he can keep for his own funds. It’s very touching that over £600 has been raised, it really helps to show him that people can be very kind.” To donate to the appeal, visit here. Source: iNews
  7. (Not written by me) ‘My son was so terrified of Christmas we couldn’t celebrate it for four years’: Mother had to hide presents and decorations due to her little boy’s unusual phobia Eight-year-old Keiran Liptrot would panic and cry whenever he saw Santa or anything Christmas-related By Nilufer Atik His phobia was first seen when he was a baby and was taken to a Christmas play Finally, the family can now celebrate Christmas properly It’s a date in the calendar most children look forward to and get excited about. But for eight year-old Keiran Liptrot, Christmas Day wasn’t a time for joy and celebration. In fact, it was his worst nightmare come true. He dreaded the decorations and bright lights that lit up the streets and shops everywhere, couldn’t bear the sounds of festive music blaring out from the radio and the thought of sitting on Santa’s lap would literally send him running for the nearest exit. It meant that for years his mother Janet, 40, had to ‘hide’ Christmas from her son and make sure her other children Damon, now 22, James, 17, Alizee, 16, and Franny, 11, did the same. “We couldn’t have a tree as that would have freaked Keiran out,” Janet told i. “Decorations were a no-no too as he would just pull them down or run away in fear. “Even with presents I’d have to make sure his weren’t wrapped, and put the others’ gifts somewhere he couldn’t see them as he couldn’t stand looking at the wrapping paper.” Tears at the grotto Keiran’s phobia started when he was a baby and Janet would take him along to Christmas plays his older siblings were in or grottoes they wanted to go to. “He would start crying loudly every time we took him past a church hall in his pram or anywhere near a grotto,” Janet recalled. “I couldn’t understand it.” By the age of two Keiran also refused to let her put up a Christmas tree, pushing it over or refusing to enter the room if she tried. “He would get so upset and anxious I couldn’t stand seeing him like that, so, eventually, I gave each of the other kids tiny trees to put in their bedrooms instead and stopped bothering with decorations. “I knew it wasn’t fair on them but Keiran would be in tears otherwise. He seemed genuinely afraid which broke my heart.” ‘Terror in his eyes’ When Keiran was almost three, Janet tried persuading him to visit Santa in the hope that it might help him beat his phobia. “We’d all travelled down to London and his cousin was with us too,” she explained. “As he was a bit older and liked his cousin, I thought he might not be so bad. “When we arrived at the grotto she sat on Santa’s knee smiling and chatting while Keiran just stood next to them completely still. He forced himself to stay but I could see the terror in his eyes.” Keiran had begun displaying other signs that all was not well too. If things were placed on a shelf he would push them off, or if the table was set for dinner, he would get anxious and sweep the plates away. “I noticed that he liked things in a certain order too and would only eat foods that were beige,” said Janet. She took him to the doctors who referred him to a specialist for tests. The specialist confirmed he had autism and gave Janet some information on the condition. First proper Christmas He explained that it was a developmental disorder characterised by difficulties with social interaction and communication, and restricted and repetitive behaviour, and that parents usually noticed signs during the first two or three years of their child’s life. “It did make sense,” said Janet. “But it still didn’t really explain the Christmas thing.” After seeking advice from the National Autistic Society, Janet was able to manage Keiran’s condition better and began gradually exposing him to the things he feared to get him more used to them. “I started by giving him a toy reindeer one year and then a little Santa figurine the next and gradually he started paying with them,” Janet said. By the age of six, Keiran was even able to go and visit Santa in person, although he still wasn’t comfortable sitting on his lap. “I don’t think he trusted Santa because he’d asked for a football kit for Christmas and got a small toy car at the grotto which made him dubious!” she added. Last year, the family had their first proper Christmas tree with all their presents wrapped nicely, including Keiran’s, and scattered around it. “Keiran loved it,” said Janet. “This time, he was so excited about Christmas Day he didn’t sleep the night before and wouldn’t stop chatting about presents and Santa. Before, he’d be up all night with anxiety. It was wonderful seeing him so animated because he was happy instead.” The Liptrots are looking forward to 25 December this year and already have their decorations up. “It’s so nice not to hide Christmas away any more and to see Keiran enjoying the day with the family. It took a long time to get him over his phobia, but we got there in the end.” A spokesperson for the National Autistic Society said: “Christmas can be a wonderful time, but the changes to routine, sensory overload from new smells, lights and different food can make it a challenge for autistic people. “Parents know how to adapt Christmas celebrations so it’s right for their child and Janet did the right thing by gradually introducing Kieran to Christmas at his own pace. It’s great to hear that Kieran, Janet and the rest of their family will be enjoying the festive season, instead of worrying about it.”Source: iNews
  8. (Not written by me)Meet the music shop owner who runs his business with no computer or internet Matthew Poulton has run a successful business for nearly 30 years without using any techA week ago, the i office received a letter. Three hand-written pages paperclipped together and written in an even-handed, clear script. There were two postscripts: the first, invited us to pop into his music shop for a cup of tea if we were ever in North Devon. The second was an apology that the letter wasn’t in joined-up writing but the writer, Matthew Poulton, wanted it to be legible. Matthew Poulton is a man who doesn’t use the internet, yet has managed to run a successful business, Discovery Music, for nearly 30 years. Reading the letter was calming. There was no loudly flashing subject box that said “urgent!”. It finished with the line: “I have time for people…and have respect for real, human contact. I think we need it as a society…as a species.” But how, when the world prioritises social media marketing, engagement, and “digital outreach”, can you run a successful business without using or owning a computer at all?Poulton told i: “I started my business – selling second-hand and new vinyl records, in 1992. My father was an antiques dealer and I realised quickly that running a niche business relied a huge amount on great social contact, human contact.”He hasn’t learned how to use a computer yet, but doesn’t feel as though it holds him back. He says people love receiving cards and letters: “It actually means something, that that person thought about them for longer than 10 seconds.”“It takes a lot of knowledge to run a successful record shop. I make enough money, live above the shop and I love what I do” Surely in the cut-throat world of small business owning a computer and being online is non-negotiable? Yet Poulton says it’s important for his emotional wellbeing to only be available during core working hours, and being online would threaten that. “I am available between 10am and 5pm – after then, don’t even bother! I think respecting the boundaries needed for a well-balanced lifestyle is important, and in return, during core hours, I give great customer service.”Being offline also helps him to connect with his community: “I get to know people, there’s a humanistic element to running a business which is necessary in my industry. It takes a lot of knowledge to run a successful record shop. I make enough money, live above the shop and I love what I do. I don’t have kids or need holidays – in fact, the last holiday I had was 20 years ago, but I don’t really think of what I do as work.” He’s the first to admit how frugal he is. “My accountant once told me that I rarely earn above the poverty line, but I’m richer than anyone else I know. It’s all about the little things in life, and making the most of them.” Poulton rents his house off his mother, which means he makes sure there’s a stream of money to support her too. “I’ve been renting off her since 1989 – it’s nice to keep it all in the family.” ‘I’m good at keeping records’There’s a warmness to Poulton that seeps through even on the phone. It’s easy to see how he’s managed to keep his business afloat without needing to rely on social media to seem personable. “I mean, I don’t eschew technology altogether. I have an accountant, and that’s how my taxes get paid. I keep very good records – I’m a great believer in doing jobs that need to be done today, and not putting them off until tomorrow, which helps me to run my business well.” Poulton doesn’t use Excel spreadsheets, but draws and writes everything by hand in notebooks. “When it comes to my finances, I draw my own graphs to show my outgoings and incomings, and keep a record of all the paperwork. Everything’s done very simply and my accounts are perfectly ordered. The trick is to be as systematic as possible. Of course it would be different if I was working in a bank – I’ve designed a niche for myself.Like any authentic record collector, he has a slightly unorthodox way of filing. “All my crucial files, relating to business, the house and my personal stuff, are kept in three record sleeves. It’s very effective.” The rest, which includes long lists of records from suppliers, are kept boxed up in the loft. “It’s like being 15 again and seeing what’s coming out in the record shops.”But how does not using computers or the internet impact the people he works with? “Companies who sell records to shops make you go online to order, but you can still get these long pre-release sheets. I love these lists, I’m going through one now and they’re a big part of my morning. It’s like being 15 again and seeing what’s coming out in the record shops.”When he calls up and orders his records Poulton says the guys he speaks to at places like Cargo and Fat Cat love having a chat. “We end up in conversations about everything that’s going on in the world. There’s a place for technology for sure, but I think its role should be complementary – it’s certainly not the be all and end all. I know the guys I deal with on the phone appreciate the human contact.”As the world becomes tech mad, and even our elderly grandparents can send emails and do online shops, does he ever feel left out, or that his business will struggle? “Never. I don’t have fear of missing out! Just because people have more information projected at them more quickly, it doesn’t mean they know more. I know more about what bands are playing or the records coming out than most people just from standing in WH Smiths reading the magazines or chatting to mates. The information is all there [offline] but we just need to learn how to use it better. I don’t think we have been given enough time to learn how to use technology, or how to make it work for us. In a way, maybe we’ve been corrupted.”Some elements of discrimination exist if you don’t use technology, he says. “But I’ve found that if you’re politely stubborn and stand your ground, people will help you out.” He cites a situation where he found out there was a cheap deal on train tickets if you went online, so he called up and explained how he didn’t use computers. “At first they said they couldn’t help me, but as soon as you explain the situation, and also mention it’s slightly discriminatory, people will do what they can to help you out.” Will he ever get a computer? “I’m nearly 50 now, and I’m not saying never. My friends who have them always seem to have problems with them, and they need new systems and need a reboot. I get by very easily and contentedly. Smartphones are only 11 years old after all, and there are always way of getting around things without being hooked up 24/7.”Expert view: Paul Dawson, founding partner at product innovation company, Fluxx, on running a business without internetIn a digital world, analogue alternatives do stand out. Tokyo bookshop, Morioka Shoten, only stocks one book at a time, forcing people in store to immerse themselves in the title, and spend time with the author. Customers that find you are likely to be more serious and given they may see you as more exclusive, not being digital might not be a concern. However, without a digital presence, you’re cut off from many potential customers, which people may interpret as a lack of customer service. What’s worked for the last 30 years won’t necessarily work for the next 30. To create a great business today, that reflects the consumer of today, then digital must be in the mix. How else would I have found out about the ‘one book bookshop’?Source: iNews
  9. What is your experience learning to drive.

    (emphasis added) And yet, according to the National Autistic Society's page on driving, those in receipt of the mobility component of PIP can learn to drive at 16!
  10. (Not written by me) Board game café set to open in Leamington A ‘board game café is set to open its doors in Leamington later this month. Stephanie Branch, 31, and Trev Davies, 33, will be welcoming fellow enthusiasts, competitive families and complete beginners to their board game café, ‘The Dice Box’, in 137 Regent Street on November 10. The café will provide a large library of board games as well as a café area offering drinks, snacks and food. Stephanie, having lived in Leamington for the last four years, wanted an opportunity to help improve tourism and subsequently give back to the town. She said: “I have found so many people are looking for new and exciting days out, whether it be as a family or with friends. We hope The Dice Box will capture their interest and draw more people back into the heart of Leamington and keep the high street alive. “With that from day one we wanted to make it an option for everyone so we offer a discount of ten per cent off the total bill to all students with an NUS card, NHS workers and all front line emergency services including the military.” Every Monday the café will also hold an autism friendly day where the music will be turned off, the games on offer will have reduced number of options to reduce stress and carers will be able to play for free. The café will open for its official launch on Saturday November 10 and doors will open at 11am. People are strongly encouraged to book their table for the day in advance but there will be a couple of tables open to walk-ins. The Dice Box will be open on Mondays to Sundays from 11am until late. All players are encouraged to book a table before going to the café, but it is not essential, each table has a set three hour slot. The Dice Box will also serve a selection of cakes catering for customers with gluten free and vegan requirements. Source: Leamington Spa & Warwick Courier
  11. (Not written by me) System error: Japan cybersecurity minister admits he has never used a computer Yoshitaka Sakurada also seemed confused by the concept of a USB drive when asked in parliament A Japanese minister in charge of cybersecurity has provoked astonishment by admitting he has never used a computer in his professional life, and appearing confused by the concept of a USB drive. Yoshitaka Sakurada, 68, is the deputy chief of the government’s cybersecurity strategy office and also the minister in charge of the Olympic and Paralympic Games that Tokyo will host in 2020. In parliament on Wednesday however, he admitted he doesn’t use computers. “Since the age of 25, I have instructed my employees and secretaries, so I don’t use computers myself,” he said in a response to an opposition question in a lower house session, local media reported. He also appeared confused by the question when asked about whether USB drives were in use at Japanese nuclear facilities. His comments were met with incredulity by opposition lawmakers. And his comments provoked a firestorm online. “Doesn’t he feel ashamed?” wrote one Twitter user. “Today any company president uses a PC. He doesn’t even know what a USB is. Holy cow.” Another joked that perhaps Sakurada was simply engaged in his own kind of cybersecurity. “If a hacker targets this Minister Sakurada, they wouldn’t be able to steal any information. Indeed it might be the strongest kind of security!” Sakurada has been in office just over a month, after being appointed in a cabinet reshuffle following Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s reelection as head of his political party. His Luddite tendencies aside, Sakurada has also struggled to master his Olympic brief, less than two years before the Games open in Tokyo. Earlier this month he claimed to know nothing about plans for North Korea’s sports minister to attend a meeting in Tokyo at the end of the month, in violation of a ban on the regime’s officials entering Japan. After Sakurada told a news conference that he was “unaware” of the report, an aide intervened and he quickly corrected himself, claiming that officials had indeed briefed him. He also suggested that he did not know that Thomas Bach, the president of the International Olympic Committee, had asked the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in March to allow his country’s athletes to take part in the 2020 Games. “This is not something I should be meddling in in my capacity,” he said, according to the Asahi newspaper. “It’s beyond my jurisdiction.” Sakurada blamed one particularly unimpressive performance in parliament on the opposition MP Renho Murata, complaining that she had not given him her questions in advance. “Since there was no prior notice about the questions, I had no idea what would be asked at the session,” the Asahi quoted him as saying. When Renho asked him how much funding the central government would contribute to the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, he responded: “1,500 yen”, which works out at just over $13, some way below the actual sum of 150 billion yen. Source: Guardian
  12. We should create our own country. 悠哉國.

    Why the Pacific? That ocean doesn't touch Europe (apart for some French and British overseas territories).
  13. (Not written by me) The gamer who spent seven years in his dressing gown By Johanna Carr 9 November 2018 A gamer who left his home fewer than 10 times in seven years explains how he's now helping other young people break away from a life of isolation. "Years and years were just spent sitting at my computer," says Billy Brown. "I would only go outside for doctor's appointments or dentist's appointments. "I would never go outside to socialise or interact with other people. My entire existence was online." In what was a difficult childhood, Mr Brown was taken into care repeatedly during his mother's hospital stays for her mental and physical health problems. His attendance during his GCSEs was 13% but it was the stress of starting A-levels at college, coupled with breaking his ankle, that caused him to withdraw from the outside world completely. Mr Brown, now 24, dropped out of college and spent the following years at home - gaming, in chat rooms and reading about politics. He became almost entirely immersed in an online world of "echo chambers" where he felt the pull of extremism and cybercrime. Mr Brown, from Ashton near Helston in Cornwall, says he became increasingly "eccentric" and eventually lost touch with reality. "I can count the number of times I went out in a seven-year period on both of my hands," he says. "I wasn't taking care of myself, I was only taking care of my mother. "There were times when I was suicidal. It really took its toll on me. "I wasn't sure why I was alive, why I was here... I realised if I didn't do something I wouldn't be here in a year or two years." He finally decided to seek help and ended up taking part in the Real Ideas Organisation's (RIO) Game Changer programme, which aims to encourage young people to develop skills and overcome any issues they face before getting them into work, education or training. Now, just 14 months after stepping outside for the first time in years, Mr Brown has come up with his own way of helping people like him to improve their lives - through tabletop gaming. His board game, which he also hopes to develop into an app, aims to help young people build on their social skills and overcome any issues they face. How do you play the game? It's a role-playing board game for small groups. Players meet once a week over a period of weeks or months, improving their social skills as they play. No equipment is needed aside from a pen and paper, but additions can include dice and character descriptions. The idea is the participants play themselves, earning points by achieving certain tasks. They can improve their "characters" and get extra points in between sessions by taking on a challenge in the real world. Participants have to prove they have completed the tasks and share the details in an online group set up for each game. "It is my way of giving back, my way of trying get people to interact and socialise," Mr Brown says of the as-yet-unnamed game. "Something had to change [in my life] and I don't want people to have to get to that point before they make a change." Kirsty Atkinson, who has experienced isolation, is one of the volunteers who took part in a test session for Mr Brown's game. "I didn't have any friends because I had been through a lot of bad relationships and friendships, so because of that I just stayed inside," says the 22-year-old from Pool near Redruth in Cornwall. "I didn't do much, I didn't get out - I didn't want to." She describes Mr Brown's game as "really fun", and is "very sure" it can help people in a similar situation to hers. "I feel like we really connected as a group," she says, adding that it's a good way to meet other young people struggling with similar issues. Another player, 20-year-old Ryden Pyrosa, from Pendeen near Penzance in Cornwall, started the session concerned about not knowing how to play the game. An hour later he wanted to know when they could play again. "There was just something about it," he says, grinning. George Hardwick, a consultant with the Real Ideas Organisation who's been working with Mr Brown since he took his first steps to reintegrate with the world, says it was "wonderful to see young people of both sexes interacting... to see them smiling and laughing - that in itself is a massive victory". For Mr Hardwick, watching Mr Brown lead a group through his new game for the first time in a test session was an emotional experience. "Billy had essentially been living in his dressing gown for seven years," he says, describing his progress as incredible. Mr Hardwick, who is supporting the 24-year-old with the game launch, adds: "He has gone from being severely agoraphobic to now hosting a game that is helping young people to explore their gifts and talents and how they might be able to share those with the world in a way that can really support them. "It is a testament to him, to his determination, to his courage and, in my opinion, the appropriate support that he has got along the way." Mr Brown, who is now working in his first job as a youth support worker, has seen his horizons broaden in a way he would never have thought possible a couple of years ago. For him, the board game is about the "redemptive power of community". "People spend thousands of hours playing games just to see their character grow," he says. "But what if they can see themselves grow?" Source: BBC News Online
  14. (Not written by me) Remember when we wrote about Iris Grace, the incredibly talented 5-year-old girl with autism who paints beautiful pictures? It turns out that she has a behind-the-scenes helper who’s also worthy of praise – that’s Thula, her therapeutic cat. Thula, who is almost 1 year old, is a Maine Coon. This breed is known as the intelligent and gentle giant of the cat world and though she’s still small and young, Thula does not disappoint. Her gentle and compassionate character is especially important for Iris, a young girl growing up with autism; “Thula has lowered [Iris’] daily anxieties in life and keeps Iris calm,” Iris’ mother, Arabella Carter-Johnson, told Bored Panda, “but equally has the effect of encouraging her to be more social. She will talk more to Thula, saying little phrases like ‘sit cat.’” Carter-Johnson, had almost given up on the search for a therapeutic animal companion for her daughter. When Iris happened to connect with a Siberian cat that her family would up cat-sitting for Christmas, however, she realized that she “just hadn’t found the right animal yet.” Read more and view lots of adorable pictures here. Although the web source is American, Iris Grace is actually British - from Leicestershire. Read more about her artwork here.
  15. (Not written by me) Mother says her son with autism was ‘mocked’ by rail staff after asking about an earlier service Sarah Hilary said her son was becoming stressed at Paddington station in London and had hoped they might be allowed on an earlier service Josh Barrie Wednesday October 24th 2018 A mother claimed she and her son, who has autism, were “mocked” by Great Western Railway staff at Paddington train station after she asked whether they might be allowed on an earlier service. Sarah Hilary, a crime novelist, said she had booked to travel on the 6.20pm train from London home to Bath but her son, 17, a vulnerable passenger, was struggling. “They were accusatory and it felt like they were mocking me and my son” Ms Hilary said he can become overwhelmed on a sensory level in places such as hectic train stations. Given he carries a disabled person’s railcard, she hoped GWR would allow them both to start their journey early and avoid any upset. She said to i: “They [staff] acted like gatekeepers, they were intimidating and belligerent, and it seemed like they were trying to save GWR profits rather than support customers, which is their job. Nervous and upset “They were accusatory and it felt like they were mocking me and my son. It was bullying. They were acting like they thought we were ‘pulling a fast one’ and I was only asking to have some flexibility to get a freebie. “It distressed my son and he was visibly agitated and nervous. He doesn’t react well to these situations and hates confrontation. I showed them his railcard, but they just scoffed. “When I explained my son was autistic, one of the men said, ‘yeah, so’s mine’. If he is, I’m worried for his son, given the way he is. “I’ve never been treated so badly. It was horrible to experience, especially in front of other passengers.” Ms Hilary, who shared her and her son’s experience on Twitter, said she felt “humiliated” by the ordeal. Complaint After complaining at the ticket office, she was eventually allowed to change trains and was put on an earlier service. “I explained the situation and they were quite dismissive”, said Ms Hilary. “I didn’t receive any apology after I said I would like to complain – they just stamped our tickets and allowed us on an earlier train.” Ms Hilary said the carriages were incredibly busy and she thought her son “might collapse”. She took him to 1st class, and added that the train manager on board was “very gentle, kind, and understanding”. After taking her complaint to GWR head office, the novelist said senior staff at the rail company were helpful, offered her a refund on her journey, and free tickets on a future fare. Investigation But she also said the experience really affected her son: “He told me afterwards, ‘mum, if that happens again, just sit me in a corner and I’ll ride it out. Please don’t ask the help desk again’.” GWR said what happened was “totally unacceptable” and said it has launched an investigation. A GWR spokesperson told i: “We are sorry to learn of Sarah’s experience while at London Paddington with her son. We work closely with a leading autism charity to give all staff awareness training as part of our customer service training programme. “An investigation has been launched into the issues raised. We are grateful to Sarah for bringing this to our attention and are in contact with her as part of the investigation.” Source: iNews
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