Jump to content
  • Announcements

    • Kris

      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


  • Content count

  • Joined

  • Last visited

1 Follower

About Aeolienne

  • Rank
  • Birthday February 21

Profile Information

  • Gender
  • Location
    Leamington Spa, Warks
  • Interests
    Baroque music, green issues (esp. renewable energy), hillwalking, Quakerism, reading (astronomy, fiction, popular science), practical conservation, art exhibitions, royal-watching
  1. National Apprenticeships Week 4 - 8 March 2019

    (Not written by me) Sunday 3 March 2019 23:57 McDonald's kicks off National Apprenticeship Week with 750 apprenticeships Michael O'Dwyer Michael is a financial journalism student at City, University of London. McDonald’s will today announce more than £2m worth of apprenticeship opportunities for new and current employees in the UK this year, making use of the government’s apprenticeship levy. The fast food chain plans to create 750 new apprenticeship spaces in the UK. McDonald’s promised last summer that it would employ 43,000 apprentices in Europe by 2025. Read more: Apprenticeship levy bashed by UK businesses The announcement coincides with the beginning of National Apprenticeships Week, which runs until Friday. McDonald’s, whose UK apprentices range in age from 16 to 58 years old, has been providing apprenticeships in the UK for 12 years. It said that 80 per cent of its apprenticeships are currently held by people already working for the company. “We strongly believe in the combination of workplace training and studying with practical experience to help people progress and develop,” said Harriet Hounsell, McDonald’s UK’s chief people officer. The positions on offer range from entry-level roles to a business management degree apprenticeship with Manchester Met University. Apprentices will be paid a “work-equivalent salary” to the job they are doing, rather than the minimum £3.80 an hour apprentice rate of pay. Read more: Rising international sales give boost to McDonald's shares “I am thrilled to see such ambitious plans from McDonald’s,” said Anne Milton, Minister for Skills and Apprenticeships. “Apprenticeships offer people a high-quality route to skilled employment with the option to train at every level,” she added. “You get paid while you train and can start a great career in a huge range of professions ranging from business to hospitality.” Source: City AM
  2. This week (4 - 8 March 2019) is National Apprenticeships Week. You can search for events near to you here.
  3. (Not written by me) Sweden's surprising rule for time off The country's unique leave of absence system helps workers launch their own business. Can it be replicated elsewhere? By Maddy Savage 6 February 2019 Jana Cagin had never thought about running her own company until she and her fiancé had “one of those lightbulb moments” while out shopping for a new sofa at Ikea in a Stockholm suburb. They felt that the range of legs available was too limited. After scouring the internet failing to find suitable alternatives, they came up with the concept of developing their own brand of replacement furniture parts, designed to help buyers put an artistic stamp on new flat-pack furniture purchases or ‘upcycle’ existing home staples. “We were just struck by this idea and it really made us so passionate,” she explains. The couple began by running the venture in their spare time. But according to Cagin, it was being able to take a leave of absence from her job as an organisational psychologist that really enabled things to get off the ground. “We started finding suppliers, getting a lot of press, starting building the website,” she explains. The company was also accepted into an acceleration programme for startups, which offered coaching, workshops and mentoring. “If I were to work during that time I wouldn’t have been able to join, and it really helped us to believe in our idea.” Meanwhile, knowing that she could return to her old role if things didn’t pan out alleviated some of the financial risk, especially since her partner was a freelancer in the creative industries. “I’d never seen myself as an entrepreneur, so being able to have that kind of security and something to fall back on, I think that played a pretty big role.” She didn’t go back to her old job. Six years after that “lightbulb moment”, which happened when Cagin was just 31, the couple’s e-commerce business now offers decorative door knobs and cupboard panels, as well as legs for a range of different furniture types. It operates in 30 countries and has six full-time employees. A legally enshrined right While not all new companies become so successful, Cagin’s experience taking time off from fixed employment is far from unique in Sweden. For the last two decades, full-time workers with permanent jobs have had the right to take a six-month leave of absence to launch a company (or alternatively, to study or to look after a relative). Bosses can only say no if there are crucial operational reasons they can’t manage without a staff member, or if the new business is viewed as direct competition. Employees are expected to be able to return in the same position as previously. “To my knowledge this is the only country that offers a legally-enshrined right to take a leave of absence for entrepreneurship,” explains Claire Ingram Bogusz, apost-doctoral researcher in entrepreneurship and information systems at Stockholm School of Economics. “You meet a lot of people who’ve got permission from their employer to start up something in such a way that it doesn’t interfere with their employment, and once that business is up and running, then they take a leave of absence to see if they can actually make a go of it,” she says. “It’s very common, particularly among highly-skilled entrepreneurs who build high-tech firms.” Max Friberg, 31, who runs a software platform, is one of them. He chose to take a leave of absence from a global consulting firm rather than quit his job, even though he had been working on the project in his spare time for over a year and says he was confident his idea would take off. For him, losing the competitive advantage and “social status” he’d worked for years to achieve was as much of a concern as financial insecurity. The possibility of unpaid leave greatly eased some of those worries. “I had this fantastic job. I had been working very hard throughout university to get it and while at the job to keep it and to advance,” he explains. “I was questioning myself: ‘am I doing something crazy?’ But feeling that I could go back took quite a bit out of that scariness.” The secret to innovation? Sweden, with a population of just 10 million, has developed a reputation as one of the most innovative countries in Europe in recent years. The most commonly-cited reasons its start-up scene has grown so quickly include strong digital infrastructure, a culture of collaboration and affordable private unemployment insurance, which provides a larger social safety net than in many countries. Measuring exactly how much the right to unpaid leave has contributed to this is tricky. While the trend – particularly in the tech scene – has been observed by academics, unions and employers alike, there are no national databases that break down how many people registered to take a leave of absence start a business. But what the figures confirm is that rising demand for all kinds of leaves of absence (including paid parental leave) coincides with growing numbers of Swedes starting their own companies. In 2017, 175,000 25- to 54-year-olds on leave were registered, compared to 163,000 in 2007, according to Statistics Sweden. The registration office for Swedish companies, Bolagsverket, says 48,542 limited companies registered in 2017, up from 27,994 in 2007. So what can the rest of the world learn from Sweden’s unpaid leave system? According to Claire Ingram Bogusz, the trend for taking leave to start a business needs to be viewed in the context of the Nordic country’s notoriously strict employment laws. These have traditionally made it harder for bosses to fire staff than in many countries. She argues that it might encourage some employees to stay put once they have the security of a substantive role. “People don’t easily relinquish that [permanent] job once they have it,” she says. “It’s maybe analogous to owning a house or an apartment. Once you own it, you don’t just give it up easily.” Samuel Engblom, head of policy for the Swedish Confederation for Professional Employees, explains that the government, unions and employers in Sweden have supported the right to take time off as “a way of promoting mobility in the labour market”. “Most employees hesitate to leave a job that they perceive as secure for something as insecure as starting a business,” he says. “Maybe it’s quite a Swedish view – I mean, you could promote entrepreneurship by making it more profitable, and we do that to some extent, but you can also promote entrepreneurship by making it less insecure.” Ting Xu, an assistant professor at the University of Virginia whose work focuses on entrepreneurial finance, argues that increasing the right to unpaid leave could play a crucial role in fuelling entrepreneurship, even in countries with much more flexible labour markets. He cites a 2016 study by Failure Aversion Change in Europe (FACE) Entrepreneurship, a European project designed to help would-be tech entrepreneurs break the barriers generated by fear of failure. It found that while financial risk was the top concern, career risk came a close second. “The fear of losing a stable professional career if their start-up fails is a major thing holding many people back,” he argues. “Many countries subsidise financing to entrepreneurs. However, reducing career risk can be just as important, and is often ignored by policy makers.” Although his own research focuses on parental leave, rather than unpaid leave, it provides rare empirical data to back up this idea. Xu was part of a team that looked at a reform that extended job-protected parental leave in Canada from a few months to a full year in 2001. They found that women eligible for more time off were more likely to be entrepreneurs five years later that those who gave birth before the change. “This result is strong evidence showing that when we remove career risk it can actually spur entrepreneurship,” he concludes. Are there any down sides? Some observers argue it might be more difficult for employers outside Sweden to allow workers to return to their old roles after taking time off to run a business. These workers could face discrimination when it comes to future career prospects or salary. However in Sweden, this kind if prejudice is against the law. “For someone to have gone out and tried something new and had that opportunity and come back isn’t actually seen negatively. It’s seen neutrally at best, and probably even positively, because then the person has said, ‘oh no, this job is what is actually for me’,” explains Ingram Bogusz. She argues that Sweden’s entrenched focus on work-life balance is a “huge contributing factor”, which might not be relevant in other places. “In Sweden, people are expected to have a balance in their employment – not just in terms of balancing their personal lives, but also balancing other things that are of importance to them or mean personal growth for them. Starting a new business could be [part of] that.” Jessica Petterson is among those currently making the most of this approach. The 30-year-old is wrapping up a period of unpaid leave that she’s spent launching a virtual assistant product for charities. She has decided to return to her permanent job at a non-profit organisation, and to pursue her entrepreneurship more slowly on the side. “I don’t make enough from my company to support myself, and I want to buy an apartment quite soon. So that’s why I need to go back to my old job to get a steady salary every month,” she explains. “They [my managers] are really happy with me going back. They’ve given me some other projects to work on so that I won’t feel as ‘stuck’ as I was before.” However, Samuel Engblom at the Swedish Confederation for Professional Employees points out that while many employers share this positive attitude toward unpaid leave, others can struggle with the administrative and financial challenges linked to covering a worker’s responsibilities while they are taking time off. “For the employer, it means losing someone who knows the job. Especially in situations where there is a lack of skilled workers in a field, this of course can be problematic,” he says. He suggests these challenges could be exaggerated in countries with less stable economies than Sweden. A new future? Of course, both the advantages and challenges of unpaid leave are only relevant when employees have permanent positions in the first place. While the vast majority of Swedes are in stable jobs, there has been a shift towards temporary employment and the gig economy in recent years, which has largely affected younger workers. In 2017, almost 50% of 16- to 24-year-olds and 18% of 25- to 34-year-olds were in temporary work, up from 44% and 14% in 2009 respectively. “It is a problem that Sweden faces as well as many other countries in the world: this polarisation of people with permanent jobs and those who don’t,” says Ingram Bogartz. “For gig economy workers and freelancers... leaves of absence don’t actually affect them, and it creates additional distance.” Swedish lawmakers are monitoring the trend closely. A government committee was recently asked to investigate how more security could be provided for these kinds of workers. Meanwhile, the right to unpaid leave for permanent staff shows no sign of being revoked. Several unions have even struck collective agreements with employers that expand workers’ rights to unpaid leave by offering them 12 months off to try starting a business, instead of the standard requirement of six months. What is vital for all Swedish entrepreneurs to remember, according to Ingram Bogartz, is that whether or not they have the right to unpaid leave, starting a business remains risky. “The general downside of moving from permanent employment to entrepreneurship is true here in Sweden as in anywhere else. You go from a stable [job] and often quite decent salary to unstable and probably a much lower amount of money,” she explains. “But a leave of absence means you can have the best of both worlds: the security of a job that’s not going anywhere, and time off to pursue what’s important to you.” Source: BBC Capital
  4. (Not written by me - but it is written by my aunt, so naturally I'm biased ) AUF DER WALZ OR ON THE ROAD 1. FEBRUARY 2019 A man in black walks at a steady pace along a country lane. He has a small bundle, hooked onto one shoulder and a long, curled walking stick in his right hand. He is wearing black, wide-bottomed trousers, a white shirt, black waistcoat, black jacket and a black, wide-brimmed hat – so not the clothing of a tramp. In his bundle, he has a change of clothing and not much else; no mobile phone and only very little loose change. If I add that he does not yet know where he is going to spend the night, that he is hoping to find work (and lodging) in the next village as a carpenter for a few weeks before setting off, again on foot, in search of further work experience, in what age would you place this scene? Several hundred years ago? As far back as the 12th century perhaps? Or maybe on a spring day in May 2018, while approaching the village of Bubikon in Switzerland? Last June, our roof badly needed clearing of moss and twigs etc, which had blocked the drainpipes. We called a local roofer, who came accompanied by an assistant, a young man with a pony tail from Germany. He was dressed in black, wide-bottomed trousers with a black waistcoat and a white shirt but was perfectly nimble getting on and off the roof. “I think he’s a Wandergeselle and is auf der Walz,” L said. When we were inside, I asked for an explanation.. A Wandergeselle, translated as a journeyman in English, is a kind of travelling craftsman who has completed his apprenticeship and takes to the road (literally) for a number of years to gain experience of his trade in order to become a master craftsman. He (there are very few women who do this) offers his skills in exchange for board and lodging (which can be as simple as a barn) and maybe a small wage. After a few weeks, he moves on to find work elsewhere. This custom, nowadays almost only practised in German-speaking countries, can be traced back hundreds of years to the Middle Ages when skilled stonemasons, particularly in England, travelled vast distances on foot to work on the construction of the great medieval cathedrals and churches. The powerful guilds would not allow craftsman to become masters until they had completed these post-apprenticeship travelling years. At that time, the guilds also controlled professions in the visual arts so the “wandering years” were undertaken by painters, mason-architects and goldsmiths as well. This was important for the transmission of artistic style around Europe. The brotherhoods of journeymen later united to defend their interests against the masters’ craft guilds and can be seen as the pre-runners of trade unions. Nowadays carpenters, roofers, slaters and blacksmiths, along with stonemasons, are some of the journeymen that can be sometimes found on the road (auf der Walz). Our local television recently followed the fortunes or two such journeymen, both carpenters and both members of a Swiss branch of the Association of Righteous Journeymen Carpenters and Slaters, which has its headquarters in Germany. One of them, Michael, was at the start of his journey. The other, Cyrill, was returning after 4 years. The Wanderjahren (wandering years) for carpenters last for 3 years and a day (the minimum) and have clear rules. You must be aged between 20 and 30, unattached with no children and no debts. Once on the road (auf der Walz), you mustn’t return to within a radius of 50 kilometres of your home (except under exceptional circumstances, such as a death in the family) until your wandering years are over. A journeyman is not supposed to go more than a week without work or spend more than six months in one place. He should only take about 5 francs (or Euro) with him and return with approximately the same amount. Computers and mobile phones must be left behind, which explains why a lot of carpenters, masons, roofers etc are taken by surprise by the arrival of a journeyman on their doorstep asking for work and lodging, with no prior warning. Getting ready inside his parental home, the 21-year old Michael seemed a little apprehensive as he packed the bare essentials into a small bundle. He wasn’t taking much more than a change of clothing, something to read and a list of journeyman contacts. He admitted that, apart from a visit with his family to Prague and the odd holiday with friends in Croatia, he had never been abroad. He was looking forward to the experience of living and working with the locals, something you do not do when on holiday in a country. He said he was planning first to head for Germany and then maybe go to Scandinavia and Ireland before venturing overseas. In theory, you are supposed to avoid public transport and just walk or hitch-hike. However, as many journeymen travel much further afield, taking planes (if they can be afforded) is accepted nowadays. The society is a kind of brotherhood and former journeymen and members of the guilds along with friendly inns willing to provide accommodation can be found all over the world. Michael was planning, in about a year, to travel to Canada, New Zealand and Namibia (a former German colony, where there are very good contacts for journeymen). The start of the “wandering years” has a number of traditional customs. On the day of departure, around 20 journeymen arrived, on foot, to give Michael a good send-off. All were dressed, like Michael, in the traditional costume of a journeyman carpenter. There are eight, mother-of-pearl buttons on the waistcoat to represent the hours they work in a day, six buttons on the jacket for the six working days in a week and three on each sleeve to represent the duration of three years. Nowadays, many journeymen from other trades have converted to the clothing of the carpenter, which is the most widely recognised so that it is easier for them to be identified as respectable journeymen. However, the uniform of other trades can differ; the hat might be a different shape or the trousers or jacket might be another colour. The uniform is completed with a gold earring and gold bracelets. In the Middle Ages, these could be sold in hard times or used to pay the gravedigger if a wanderer should die on his journey! Michael walked with the journeymen, singing and drinking, to the end of the village. His family and some villagers followed and stood in a group nearby. There was much toasting before they finally bade farewell and by then, Michael was distinctly unsteady on his feet. “He is relaxed and free,” said the journeymen surrounding him, “Excellent. He can go!” Luckily two fellow journeymen, who were in the middle of their wandering years, decided to accompany him for the first few days. So, Michael finally staggered off, arm in arm with his two companions and – most important – didn’t look back. They were heading for the nearest motorway so they could hitch-hike to Germany. The English word “journeyman” is still used by some British companies to describe the stage between apprentice and master, but the journeymen are not required to travel anymore. There have been times, since their founding hundreds of years ago, when the German-speaking associations had no travelling journeymen. They were banned by Napoleon, then in Germany during the Nazi years, for example, and not accepted by the communist regime in East Germany. However, there has been a strong revival since the 1980’s and at any one time, there can be around 600 journeymen, mainly from Germany, with about 10% from Switzerland, on the road throughout the world. The tradition of the wandering craftsman has also been celebrated in the arts. Gustav Mahler composed “Songs of a Wandering Apprentice”. Goethe wrote a novel entitled “Wilhelm Meister’s Journeyman Years”. And the Australian song, “Waltzing Matilda” is about an itinerant worker (swagman) wanting his late wife to walk (not dance) with him while he searched for work. In our current stressful, hectic working world, the idea of setting off in the morning with almost nothing, free of responsibilities, not necessarily knowing where one is going to spend the night, but with a list of possible contacts in one’s pocket, is exciting and attractive. Money becomes unimportant. “The idea is to become rich in experience, not rich in money terms” said one German journeyman. “You could say the others have the clock, but we have the time”, he added. Of course, it can be hard sometimes, standing by the side of the road in winter in Norway (as one journeyman said) when no car stops and a cold wind is blowing. But then the wind drops, a car stops, you move on, you find work again and spring comes and every day brings new experiences you would never have had if you had stayed at home, so you learn more and more. It can be a defining experience, which the journeymen will keep referring to in later life. So, if you drive past a hitch hiker dressed in the dark clothing of the journeyman with his wide-brimmed black hat, do consider stopping to give him a lift to help him along on his journey of three years and a day. Source: gbchblog (Switzerland)
  5. Moments That Relax You

    Now available until 31 December 2019! Source: GreenFinder
  6. 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
  7. (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
  8. ok who has Misophonia?

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

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

    Congratulations to Chris for being recognised in the New Year's Honours list! More info
  11. (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
  12. (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
  13. (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
  14. 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!
  15. (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