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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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  1. I'm still trying to work out what my special talent is. In the case of Greta Thunberg, having a father who is willing to pay her travel costs and accompany her to conferences probably helps no end.
  2. (Not written by me) Molly Olly's Wishes gets a digital helping hand from tech experts Ian Hughes 16th Oct, 2019 THE TECHNOLOGY and gaming industries have come together to create a new digital character to help teenagers diagnosed with cancer. Representatives from the Institute of Coding, Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership, One Health Care and games developers from Leamington have brought their expertise together to create a new online digital character alongside the charity Molly Olly’s Wishes. The character will help develop the charity’s work in supporting young people through their cancer diagnoses and treatment by reaching an older teenage audience through an online platform. Molly Olly’s wishes, which was founded by Rachel and Tim Ollerenshaw in 2011 following the death of their daughter Molly to cancer at the age of eight, provides special treats or equipment to children aimed at making dealing with cancer treatments more comfortable. The tech experts have come together to develop Olly the Brave – a lion who features in the charity’s book series and is also a soft toy mascot with detachable hair – into an online character for teenagers suffering with the disease. Louise Phipps, from the Institute of Coding at Coventry University, said she was delighted to be able to help the charity to reach a new generation of patients. Rachel Ollerenshaw thanked all those who had given their time to help the charity. Source: Leamington Observer
  3. (Not written by me) ‘With Asperger’s you put on a mask to pretend you’re normal’: Daniel Lightwing on how the film of his life helps take the stigma out of autism Londoner Daniel Lightwing was an outsider at school but maths helped him find a job at Google — and love. He talks with Susannah Butter about the film of his life Susannah Butter 19 March 2015 In any conversation about the modern workplace Google is held up as the ideal. But when Daniel Lightwing worked there as a web developer he was not happy. “I have a problem with office culture,” says the 26-year-old, who was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome — now simply known as an autistic spectrum disorder — marked by difficulties with social interaction and non-verbal communication. “I ate lunch by myself to avoid people talking about things that were not work-related. The more I did stuff like that the more people rejected me.” School was worse. “I didn’t go to lunch because I wouldn’t know where to sit or what to say, so I didn’t eat. I was really skinny and when my dad found out he was furious.” Lightwing’s feelings are expressed in the new film X+Y, which is based on his story. Director Morgan Matthews had the idea when he met Lightwing filming 2007 BBC documentary Beautiful Young Minds, about the International Maths Olympiad (IMO). X+Y’s protagonist, Nathan Ellis (Asa Butterfield), is lonely and bullied at school. His life changes when he is chosen to represent Great Britain at the IMO in China where he falls in love with a girl who helps him connect with society, and his mother. “I cried the first three times I watched it. It says things I was feeling but could not express,” says Lightwing. He speaks softly, making eye contact occasionally before looking back down at his bitten fingernails. His maths workings on a sheet of paper appear in the film. “My cameo,” he smiles. As in X+Y, he fell in love with a Chinese girl and married her. Yan Zhu has a stake in the film but they are no longer together. “She ran away back to China one day when I was working at Google and I never saw her again. I don’t have a positive impression of her now, what she did was cruel.” He stops. Talking about it hurts his current girlfriend’s feelings. “I live with my new girlfriend, which is why it is awkward.” She is also Chinese. They met “at a Chinese gathering” and live in Baker Street. He orders a hot chocolate, admitting: “I find drink orders awkward. In social situations I’m often thinking about what is going on in that person’s mind. It’s like my brain is overheating.” Lightwing was not diagnosed with Asperger’s until he was 16. He grew up in York, the oldest of six children. “I didn’t have a brilliant childhood. There was an emphasis on being social at school and my parents wanted me to be normal.” In X+Y, Nathan’s father dies when he is a child — Lightwing’s real-life father, who is very much alive, has taken it with good humour. “My Dad was frustrated with me when I was young because he is a GP and his job is about empathising with people. He said: ‘Even if you are not interested you should show that you are. That’s the most important skill in life’. For me that is like teaching university maths to a little child.” Today Lightwing can understand his father’s pain but says “as a child he would ask me to do something simple like buy something from the shop for him and I would panic. I know how to ask but if they say something I don’t expect, what do I say next?” His mother, a science teacher, began to research Asperger’s after reading The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time and took him to a specialist. “Being diagnosed meant I didn’t feel I had to try and change. You just have different strengths.” Competitive maths and a teacher spotting his potential also helped. “Everything got better after the competition. I felt more self-respect and part of a community — there were people like me I could relate to better than those in my school and family.” He read maths at Trinity College, Cambridge, which was “much easier than school, socially. I didn’t feel bullied and was free. One problem was that I lost interest in maths a bit.” After his degree he lived in China, where “they are more respectful to academically talented people”, and would have stayed had Google not offered him a job “building cool things to make people think Google is good” — such as developing the 3D museum viewer for company’s Art Project. Were there others at Google with Asperger’s? “Of course. Asperger’s is more common than you think. There are definitely politicians with it.” He describes his disorder as “an extremely different kind of personality. I wouldn’t call it a disability. When you have Asperger’s you are putting on a mask and trying to pretend you are normal but what you are thinking is not normal. “People with autism have polarised emotions. If it gets too much you withdraw from everything. It is called social hangover. There were times at school where I was overloaded. I’d try to run away. If I couldn’t escape I would explode.” His social struggle at Google and school did not come through a lack of willing. “Sometimes I do want to join in with other people but I’m too shy. Sometimes, though, I don’t know what to say when it is not work-related.” Google eventually “became boring”. Now he uses his programming skills in financial arbitrage and betting but becomes evasive when I ask him about it. Does he work to make it better? “It is less ethical than that. I am part of a betting syndicate. It’s secret.” This job suits him because, “In many companies the only way to make money is to rise in the management. I don’t have the ability to do that.” How should we treat those with Asperger’s? “There is too much emphasis on changing people or helping them fit in.” When he was younger, he admits he was violent, biting or kicking his peers and teachers. “That violence should not be punished because generally we are having strong emotions and there is nothing you can do about it. More should be done to avoid these situations. You can’t treat autistic children as though they’re doing something that’s unreasonable because to them it isn’t.” Medication isn’t a solution. “There was a phase where people thought Asperger’s needed to be cured but people with such a focus on systems and patterns probably came up with most inventions in history.” Alcohol helps: “I stop thinking and can say what I want.” When he wants to “act normal” he thinks about “if I have been in a similar situation before and know what to say or how I should act.” If he could wake up one morning and not have Asperger’s, would he want to? “No. I would feel really sad. I might not be good at what I enjoy.” When he is older he would like to have children. “If they had Asperger’s I’d know what to do. I don’t think I’d mind either way, it is just a different way of seeing the world, but I’d want to diagnose it early. It’s not nice going through 15 years of prison.” The maths competition crew still meet up to play poker. Lightwing is happiest doing “computer things and China things”. Going out is, “OK. I used to be afraid but now I have friends who are not Asperger’s and I’m able to.” X+Y is a milestone because, he says, “it is about how there are lots of different kinds of people, how they are valuable, can do great things and be part of society. It shows Asperger’s in a good light but there are comedy elements that make it a film for everyone to enjoy.” Source: Evening Standard
  4. (Not written by me)Where 75% of workers are on the autistic spectrumBy Robbie Wojciechowski21st October 2019Our brains don’t all work the same way. One New York-based software company sees that as a competitive advantage. Rajesh Anandan founded his company Ultranauts (formerly Ultra Testing) with his MIT roommate Art Shectman with one aim: one aim: to prove that neurodiversity and autism could be a competitive advantage in business.“There is an incredible talent pool of adults on the autistic spectrum that has been overlooked for all the wrong reasons,” says 46-year-old Anandan. “People who haven’t had a fair shot to succeed at work, because of workplace and workflow and business practices that aren’t particularly effective for anyone but are especially damaging for anyone who is wired differently.”The New York-based quality engineering start-up is now one of an increasing number of firms looking towards autistic talent. But while programmes at companies including Microsoft and accounting firm EY are small and focused around supporting neurodiverse workers in the office, Ultranauts has redesigned its entire business around neurodiversity, changing hiring efforts to actively recruit individuals on the autism spectrum and developing new workplace practices to effectively manage neurodiverse teams. “We set out to change the blueprint for work, and change how a company could hire, manage and develop talent,” says Anandan.Neurodiversity has risen to the top of the agenda around inclusion at work in recent years, yet it is not a common term. It refers to the range of differences in individual human brain function which can be associated with conditions such as dyslexia, autism and ADHD.Research by the UK’s National Autistic Society (NAS) shows that the figures around employment of people with autism in the UK are still very low. In its survey of 2,000 autistic adults, just 16% were in full-time work, despite 77% of people who were unemployed saying they wanted to work.The barriers to work for people with autism can still be huge, and Richmal Maybank, employer engagement manager at NAS, says many factors contribute to this. “Job descriptions can often have core tick-box behaviours, and can be quite general,” she says. “Forms look for ‘team players’ and ‘staff with great communication skills’ but lack specific information.”Terms like these – or interview questions such as ‘where you see yourself in five years’ – can be too general for people with autism, as many with the condition can find vague questions particularly hard to decipher. Additionally, people can feel uncomfortable disclosing their disability or feel challenged by open-plan workplaces, where they may feel they need to socialise or absorb uncomfortable levels of noise. Five years in, 75% of Ultranauts’ staff are on the autistic spectrum – and one reason for this is its innovative approach to hiring. In other companies, assessing candidates often focuses heavily on communication competencies, which means neurodiverse voices can be excluded. But at Ultranauts there is no interview process and applicants don’t need relevant experience of specific technical skills. “We have adopted an approach to screening job applicants that is much more objective than you’ll find in most places,” says Anandan. Instead of using CVs and interviews, potential employees undergo a basic competency assessment in which they are evaluated against 25 desirable attributes for software testers, such as the ability to learn new systems or take on feedback. Following these initial tests, potential staff undergo a week of working from home fully paid. Potential recruits also know they can choose to work on a DTE (a desired-time equivalent) timetable, meaning they can take on as many hours as they feel comfortable managing, rather than being tied into full-time work.“As a result, we have a talent screening process to take someone who has never done this job and at the end of that process have a 95% degree of confidence… whether people would be great at this,” says Anandan.The competitive advantages of ‘neurodiversity’ Studies by Harvard University and BIMA have shown that embracing and maximising the talents of people who think differently can have huge benefits for a business. Having a neurodiverse workforce has been shown to improve innovation and problem solving, as people see and understand information in a range of different ways. Researchers have also found that accommodations made for neurodiverse staff members such as flexible hours or remote working can benefit neurotypical staff, too.The NAS say they have seen a rise in organisations reaching out to them to find out how they could better recruit autistic talent and neurodiverse workers, especially outside the IT sector. NAS offers suggestions for small changes, such as ensuring every meeting has an agenda. Agendas and similar tools can help neurodiverse staff focus on the relevant information needed and help people plan things in advance, making the meeting more accessible.“The things we suggest are good practice for any company, not just people with autism. They aren’t expensive, and are often easy quick wins,” says Maybank. “Employers need to recognise cultures in their organisation and to understand the unwritten rules of their organisation, to help people navigate that.”Maybank, who has been working with autistic people for the last decade, says she’d like to see more mandatory training for managers around neurodiversity and more buddying programmes to help people create better social links at work. She also feels employers should look at different progression routes for employees who may not want to become managers. But she says increased awareness of neurodiversity has improved understanding in workplaces. “People are becoming way more open about recognising different strands of autistic and neurodiverse behaviour,” she says. “People have a pre-conceived perception of what autism is, but it’s best to ask that person. People may be opposites of each other despite having the same condition.”Tailoring new technologyYet it’s not just increased awareness; remote working and new technologies are also helping to support workers who may previously have struggled to enter the workforce.Workplace tools including instant messaging platform Slack and list-making application Trello have improved communication for staff who may work outside a standard office environment. These tools can have additional benefits for people on the autistic spectrum, who might find things like face-to-face communication difficult.Ultranauts has made use of these technologies, as well as creating its own tools to suit staff needs.“A couples of years ago, a colleague on our team said they wished people came with a user manual,” says Anandan. So that’s exactly what they created, a self-authored guide called a ‘biodex’ which gives colleagues at Ultranauts all the information they need to find the best ways of working with a particular person.Being flexible about workplace set-up and tailoring company behaviours to cater for autistic needs has been a huge success for Ultranauts, which is beginning to share its experiences on best practice with other companies. Anandan says he’s learnt that making a workplace inclusive for neurodiverse colleagues hasn’t added friction or inefficiency, but allowed people who have largely been ignored by society to show their true talents. “We’ve shown over and over… that we’ve delivered results better because of the diversity of our team,” he says.Source: BBC Worklife 101
  5. (Not written by me) Brain power: how government can make the most of neurodiversity From long-standing initiatives in the intelligence services to new staff networks, training and work experience, the civil service is waking up to the benefits of a more neurodiverse workforce. Tamsin Rutter reports on what is being done – and what more is to come "When you’ve met one person with autism,” says civil servant Tia Shafee, “you’ve met one person with autism.” In a workplace setting, this means that every person with autism – or indeed other neurological differences – will require different levels and types of support, and will be able to offer different strengths. It also speaks to the importance of empowering all people to share their experiences, and of avoiding assumptions. As the civil service steps up its efforts to become the UK’s “most inclusive employer” by 2020, it has turned its sights to neurodiversity – which Shafee describes as being “about people who think and function differently, because neurodivergent individuals’ brains are wired slightly differently from the norm. It is part of the natural variation in human brains”. Shafee recently joined the Civil Service Disability Inclusion Team, which sits in the Cabinet Office and responds to the priorities of disability champion and Home Office permanent secretary Sir Philip Rutnam. On neurodiversity, these priorities include making the workplace adjustment service as user-friendly as possible; expanding the Autism Exchange Programme to give young autistic people experience working in government; and organising a series of events with KPMG to share cross-sector best practice on disability, including a session planned for October on neurodiversity. Shafee, who uses the pronouns they/them, also set up the Public Sector Neurodiversity Network in February 2017. Diagnosed with autism at 19, they went on to join the Fast Stream and founded the network after being a member of a couple of different departmental disability networks that didn’t feel quite right. “They are brilliant organisations, they do some really good stuff for disabled people,” Shafee says. “But one thing I found was it just wasn’t covering the different needs and community groups that neurodivergent people like myself were finding. “If your disability network is still focusing on getting access to rooms... or recognising mental health, that’s an incredibly vital job but it isn’t necessarily hitting the more complex managerial needs that a line manager managing someone with dyspraxia or autism or ADHD might find.” Shafee, for example, doesn’t work well with changes to their routine at short notice, so has asked to be told a week in advance if they will be required to travel to another office. They struggle with identifying their own behaviours and matching them to civil service competencies. “It takes particular awareness of that from my line manager to work with me to help me understand how I fit in that competency framework, how I’m phrasing things, how I can respond to it,” Shafee says. They also frequently work while wearing a headset (to counter noise sensitivity), use lilac paper (to counter light sensitivity), and have been given a laptop with software to tint the screen and do text-to-speech (to help with information processing). Sometimes they take advantage of the civil service practice to guarantee an interview to disabled job applicants who meet the minimum criteria for a role. The network, which now has more than 170 members, issues a quarterly newsletter with stories from neurodivergent people sharing their experiences and the adjustments they have in place, and organises events to raise awareness. It plans to link up with the newly created Civil Service Dyslexia and Dyspraxia Network, which encourages senior officials affected by these conditions to become role models and provides support and mentoring opportunities. Eventually, Shafee wants to be able to provide resources for neurodivergent staff and their managers, though not by duplicating the “fantastic” resources already out there, such as the Department for Work and Pensions’ online Autism and Neurodiversity Toolkit for staff and managers. ‘Dull uniformity would destroy us’ Rupert McNeil, chief people officer, supports Shafee’s network, and spoke at its inaugural event. He says it’s his job “to ensure that we are both attracting diverse talent and effectively utilising the skills of our existing staff”. “That’s why I am encouraging the civil service to focus on the strengths that neurodiversity can bring to an organisation,” he adds. “For example, people with dyslexia often possess advanced problem-solving skills and can be highly innovative, while many people with autism have enhanced perceptual functions and a keen eye for detail.” Some areas of government are further ahead on this than others: the intelligence services, for example, have long been known to promote neurodiversity to meet specific skills needs. In 2016, then- GCHQ director Robert Hannigan said his organisation had many staff on the autistic spectrum, describing them as “precious assets and essential to our work of keeping the country safe”. He added: “To do our job, which is solving some of the hardest technology problems the world faces for security reasons, we need all talents and we need people who dare to think differently and be different… dull uniformity would completely destroy us.” Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee, in a recent report on diversity in the UK intelligence community, highlighted best practice at GCHQ, MI5 and SIS (MI6) in recruiting and supporting disabled staff. It said GCHQ and SIS have launched “a comprehensive Neurodiversity Service, offering a range of support to GCHQ staff with dyslexia, dyspraxia or [an] autistic spectrum condition”, which has also been offered to MI5. The three agencies this year began participating in a programme to support disabled people into leadership positions, and they all run workshops on issues such as autism and Asperger syndrome, deaf awareness and visual awareness. The committee also said the intelligence agencies often enlist the support of members of their disability networks to test new IT infrastructure, something it argued should become common practice across the UK government intelligence community. A more coherent approach will enable individuals to hot desk or work at other sites or overseas, instead of relying on ad-hoc efforts to adapt and personalise systems, it said. The right opportunity Other parts of the civil service are also finding new ways to support neurodiverse staff. At the Home Office, employees with dyslexia, dyspraxia and autism run “train-the-trainer” workshops for line managers to help them better understand these conditions. HM Revenue & Customs has also run workshops on adapting recruitment processes and reasonable adjustments, and has consulted autistic people on the design and layout of the regional hubs staff will be moving into over the next few years. The Fast Stream has strong links with the workplace adjustment team, and also invites disabled candidates to visit its assessment centre prior to the date of their interview, which can help alleviate anxieties sometimes felt by people with neurodivergent conditions. Many departments take part in the Autism Exchange Programme, run by charity Ambitious About Autism, which aims to increase employment opportunities for autistic adults, just 16% of whom have full-time paid jobs in the UK. The programme was initiated in 2015 with HMRC and the Department for Work and Pensions and a cohort of five young autistic people. It has since expanded, with 22 people doing three-week paid work experience placements in eight different departments this summer. Deutsche Bank, Santander, and other companies including in the professional services, marketing and advertising sectors now also offer work experience through the scheme. Alison Worsley, the charity’s director of external affairs, says the breadth of roles available in the civil service make it a particularly good option for matching up the various skills of participants with employers’ needs. Autistic people can make great employees. Although she says it’s important not to generalise, Worsley says they’re often very loyal because they often don’t like change. Some find routine or repetitive tasks stimulating, while others bring different perspectives to bear when problem-solving. “It’s about finding the right opportunity for the right person,” says Worsley, which is “why work experience can be so beneficial”. She also says that neurodiversity is something that “people across the board have tackled least in terms of diversity”, and schemes like this one give the civil service a chance to become more neurodiverse. Part of it is about giving people the confidence to disclose protected characteristics and making them more aware of the adjustments available to them. The charity also offers training for line managers as part of the scheme. For Amy Walker, who was diagnosed with Asperger’s aged 12, the Autism Exchange Programme was a perfect opportunity. She wants to join the civil service: “I have always had a ‘special interest’, as we say in the autism world, in politics, legislation, government policy,” she says. But Walker has previously tried applying for Whitehall jobs including the Fast Stream, and says she’s sometimes tripped up by the situational judgment questions that are looking for evidence of flexibility and adaptability – not usually core strengths for autistic people. She plans to keep trying, and had the chance to get tips and employability training from a Fast Stream psychologist during the two-week placement she did at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy last year. She spent the two weeks researching the nuclear industry and putting together a briefing document for civil servants new to BEIS’s nuclear commercial team. The experience helped her build confidence, and attracted her to the culture of the civil service, which is “easier to read” than some other workplaces. There are barriers to employment for Walker – some social interactions cause anxiety and “it takes me longer to adapt to new situations” – but these are counterbalanced by her analytical, admin, data and IT skills, she says. With organisations like the civil service waking up to the opportunities of a more neurodiverse workforce, Walker is optimistic that things will get easier for autistic jobseekers. She’s even developed a website, neurodiversityworks.uk, to collate and disseminate opportunities for neurodivergent people. ‘Embrace difference’ David Buck, a member of the One Team Government movement who works at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (which has launched a neurodiversity staff network of its own), believes the civil service has come a long way since he joined in 2000. Back then his manager, “unbeknownst to me at the time, had an objective to improve my spelling”, Buck says. His manager didn’t know that he was dyslexic. “What can I say… they didn’t do well on that objective.” Buck remembers disclosing his dyslexia and his type 2 bipolar disorder at the same time. “I was advised not to mention it, not to bring it up,” he says. “And for me, at that time this was the right thing, not just because of the prevailing culture of the civil service at the time – which reflected how things were in 2000 – but also for me personally. It meant that I could just get on with things.” It had only been a few years since Buck’s condition led to him being hospitalised three times while at university. In around 2010, he began to tell more people at work, opening up first to close colleagues and eventually getting to the point where, “I don’t mind chatting about what happened to me and my journey”, he says, adding that it was “a massive relief”. Buck joined Defra’s mental health staff network, Break the Stigma, where he volunteers as a “buddy” for people who need support. He has also now starting ticking “the diversity box on the internal staff system”, something which – like many people with disabilities – he avoided doing for a long time. Buck says the civil service’s commitment to diversity can only be a good thing, but he fears that an over-concentration on measurements and targets may sideline real efforts to make change. “It seems to be simple to me – just embrace difference, look for it, actively seek it out, listen to it, and keep working out what privileges you have,” he says. He adds that the “pace of work in the civil service can be quite astounding”, making it difficult for neurodivergent people to settle, but also that there are “thousands of people out there to support you”. Buck recently responded to a call from Shafee’s network to lead a session on neurodiversity for an audience of Fast Streamers. “I’ll be talking about difference, about how we’re all individuals and how the more comfortable we can get in explaining our difference the better,” he says. “Understanding and appreciating different people’s perspectives is what makes a good civil servant.” Source: Civil Service World
  6. (Not written by me) What is it like to work with Asperger’s? Jonathan, 25, who is a desktop support engineer at an insurance company in the City of London, has Asperger’s syndrome I have worked at my current company for two years, since graduating with a degree in business computing from Brunel University London. I had an interview for a job at a different organisation but it was a very formal panel and that was hard, as I can feel quite anxious and worried if there are multiple people watching and listening to me and I have to interact with groups at once. I know that my eye contact isn’t always the best and having to make eye contact with lots of people at the same time can be challenging. "I have a mentor as well as a specialist therapist who works with people with Asperger’s and helps me with any issues I face" Someone at my university mentioned Aspierations was helping to link people who have Asperger’s syndrome (AS) with employers, so I looked it up and made contact with the team. Aspierations responded quickly. I met them and they helped with mock interviews and providing tips for interviews, which was really helpful. I was then set up with a one-to-one interview with the hiring manager at my current company. I was given very clear instructions on how to get to the office, including a picture of the building, and what to expect at the interview. The interview started off very informally, with the hiring manager asking me how my journey had been, which helped me relax. He then gave me lots of technical skills questions to answer, which suited me as this is what I like most about my job. Since starting work, my employers have been very supportive. For example, I have a mentor as well as a specialist therapist who works with people with Asperger’s and helps me with any personal or workplace issues I might face. We’ve recently had a big transformation at work, as we used to have four offices in close proximity to each other but last December we moved into one building in Aldgate, in the City of London, occupying the top eight floors. Previously I had been supporting about 100 users in one of the offices and now I’m supporting more than double that. Although we all moved just a few months ago, I am still adjusting to the new offices. I think the adjustment is perhaps taking me a bit longer than other people. "I would like to see more people with AS in the workplace. We need more employers to realise that we have lots to offer" If someone has an IT issue that can’t be resolved by our remote service desk, I will go and fix it. A good day for me is when you come in, work from 09:00 to 17:30 to resolve all the tickets (IT queries – often I manage more tickets than the others on the team) and have a few conversations with colleagues, and then leave the office having accomplished your tasks. Sometimes I can get stressed, such as with ad hoc queries, if people come up to my desk and tell me they’ve got a problem. Multi-tasking is challenging for me, but I’ve been given some Post-its on which I can write a note to myself, which means I can carry on with what I’m doing and then deal with the new issue afterwards. Also I used to get a bit anxious if I was reading messages on my work phone handset on the train coming into work or at the weekend, so now I leave my handset and laptop in the office so that I have a separation between home and work. I did a presentation when I first joined the company. It was organised by Aspierations and held at Lloyd’s. It was shared on LinkedIn. I’ve also done another event and written an article that was shared on my company’s intranet. It means that lots people at work know about my condition, which is good, but I would like to see more people with AS in the workplace. We need more employers to realise that we have lots to offer. One organisation helping those on the spectrum into work The experience of Laurel Herman’s son with Asperger’s syndrome (AS) led her to found Aspierations, the organisation that helped support Jonathan into his job. Ms Herman’s son was diagnosed with the condition as an adult. As Ms Herman saw more and more high-achieving people on the autistic spectrum not succeeding in the workplace, she was convinced to help them. “We help with things like conversation technique, interview technique – all the things over and above their education to make them business-ready,” says Ms Herman. “And we help them with career progression because once they get in they don’t progress.” Aspierations is also building an alliance of AS-fit-and-friendly employers by teaming up with businesses such as the National Grid, BAE Systems and Linklaters to support neurodiversity in the workforce. “We’re helping them to attract, recruit, develop to potential, support and retain their autistic talent,” says Ms Herman. Additionally Aspierations organises awareness events for businesses, and provides training and consultancy on recruitment and preparing workplaces for neurodivergent employees. Ms Herman says it is crucial to remember that there benefits on both sides when people with AS are brought into an organisation. For the individual there is a feeling of self-worth; for the business, it is about bringing in talent with a fresh approach. She says: “If you’ve always got the same people, you’re just doing the same thing. But if you’ve got people with different ways of thinking, which is what neurodiversity is, you will get real innovation and a challenge to the status quo.” Full names have been withheld at the interviewee’s requestSource: Telegraph
  7. (Not written by me) Oxford doctors puzzled by case of 'miracle man' who came back from the dead  25 March 2019 By Tom Williams OXFORD doctors were called in to try to solve the mystery of how a postman who had been 'dead' for 21 minutes managed to come back to life. Joao Araujo, 48, was being wheeled into the morgue after suffering a cardiac arrest when nurses noticed he was moving and tests revealed circulation had spontaneously returned to his heart. A team of medics said there is no exact explanation for what happened to him or why he was able to go back to work after just three weeks. It was recorded on his medical notes as 'spontaneous return of circulation' and Mr Araujo is known as the 'Miracle Man' on the cardiac ward at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital. During his rehabilitation, he was sent to Oxford so doctors could decipher what could have happened but they have been left puzzled by the episode. Dad Mr Araujo said: "It changed me. "I give more value to all the things every day. Every single day. "I say thank you that I am alive, I say thank you that I have a job. "I give more value to my family and my friends. "When I was at the hospital they had no explanation for my problem so people started calling me the 'Miracle Man'. "Unlike everything else in the body below the eyes, they said that the brain is a mystery, it's like a Pandora's Box. "They did not have the knowledge to know the reason behind what happened. "Doctors can't believe I am alive without any damage in my heart, brain or body." Mr Araujo was in the car and about to pull off the driveway with wife Grazielle when his eyes rolled in towards the back of his head and his hands clenched rigidly around the wheel. She grabbed his phone and wedged it in between his tongue and the roof of his mouth to prevent it going down his throat. She screamed for help and a neighbour called for an ambulance. Paramedics arrived and said he was suffering a cardiac arrest and rushed him to hospital. But after six hours of injections and failed attempts at CPR, doctors ruled there was nothing more they could do. They pronounced Mr Araujo, of Linden, Gloucester, dead at 16:00 on Saturday, April 18, 2009. Doctors told his wife and children he was dead, who then phoned his parents in Portugal to tell them of the sad news. But while his body was being moved from intensive care to the mortuary, nurses noticed movement. Doctors rushed to Mr Araujo's distraught family to tell them circulation had spontaneously returned to his heart. They were told Mr Araujo, a lorry driver at the time, could be left permanently brain damaged due to a 21-minute lack of oxygen. He remained in a coma for three days before waking up in his hospital bed to staff calling him 'Miracle Man.' Doctors moved him to a separate room but he remained confused and disorientated, continuously pressing the emergency button. But two weeks later his condition miraculously improved and he was moved to Oxford. With no prior history of heart problems and being in good shape for his age, doctors reached the conclusion that Mr Araujo's brain had not sent the correct signal to his heart. Medical notes about the episode state: "Out of hospital cardiac arrest with prolonged and unsuccessful attempt at CPR but with spontaneous return of circulation soon after CPR was discontinued." He was fitted with an Implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) against his heart, which sends an electric shock through to his heart if it stops again. The device also monitors his heart rate and sends readings back to the hospital. Three weeks after the freak cardiac arrest Joao returned to work as a cleaner and continued to live a healthy lifestyle. He said: "I remember my son and wife asked if I could carry on watching football - because I am crazy for football!" Mr Araujo, now a postman who lives with his new partner, visits the cardiology ward every six months for a check-up. He said: "Every time I go back, the nurses and the people who work there go 'The Miracle Man is back!' "Even people I don't know or recognise from different areas of the hospital say 'It's the Miracle Man! Everybody knows you, you are famous!" The postman has only had one issue with his heart since the attack in 2009. In 2015, he collapsed while working as a delivery driver but continued a full day's work before driving back home and visiting A&E. He said: "The doctors said that I have too much energy. It doesn't matter if I am in too much pain, I carry on." Source: Oxford Mail
  8. Apologies for the duplication. Moderators - could you please delete this thread?
  9. (Not written by me) Oxford doctors puzzled by case of 'miracle man' who came back from the dead  25 March 2019 By Tom Williams OXFORD doctors were called in to try to solve the mystery of how a postman who had been 'dead' for 21 minutes managed to come back to life. Joao Araujo, 48, was being wheeled into the morgue after suffering a cardiac arrest when nurses noticed he was moving and tests revealed circulation had spontaneously returned to his heart. A team of medics said there is no exact explanation for what happened to him or why he was able to go back to work after just three weeks. It was recorded on his medical notes as 'spontaneous return of circulation' and Mr Araujo is known as the 'Miracle Man' on the cardiac ward at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital. During his rehabilitation, he was sent to Oxford so doctors could decipher what could have happened but they have been left puzzled by the episode. Dad Mr Araujo said: "It changed me. "I give more value to all the things every day. Every single day. "I say thank you that I am alive, I say thank you that I have a job. "I give more value to my family and my friends. "When I was at the hospital they had no explanation for my problem so people started calling me the 'Miracle Man'. "Unlike everything else in the body below the eyes, they said that the brain is a mystery, it's like a Pandora's Box. "They did not have the knowledge to know the reason behind what happened. "Doctors can't believe I am alive without any damage in my heart, brain or body." Mr Araujo was in the car and about to pull off the driveway with wife Grazielle when his eyes rolled in towards the back of his head and his hands clenched rigidly around the wheel. She grabbed his phone and wedged it in between his tongue and the roof of his mouth to prevent it going down his throat. She screamed for help and a neighbour called for an ambulance. Paramedics arrived and said he was suffering a cardiac arrest and rushed him to hospital. But after six hours of injections and failed attempts at CPR, doctors ruled there was nothing more they could do. They pronounced Mr Araujo, of Linden, Gloucester, dead at 16:00 on Saturday, April 18, 2009. Doctors told his wife and children he was dead, who then phoned his parents in Portugal to tell them of the sad news. But while his body was being moved from intensive care to the mortuary, nurses noticed movement. Doctors rushed to Mr Araujo's distraught family to tell them circulation had spontaneously returned to his heart. They were told Mr Araujo, a lorry driver at the time, could be left permanently brain damaged due to a 21-minute lack of oxygen. He remained in a coma for three days before waking up in his hospital bed to staff calling him 'Miracle Man.' Doctors moved him to a separate room but he remained confused and disorientated, continuously pressing the emergency button. But two weeks later his condition miraculously improved and he was moved to Oxford. With no prior history of heart problems and being in good shape for his age, doctors reached the conclusion that Mr Araujo's brain had not sent the correct signal to his heart. Medical notes about the episode state: "Out of hospital cardiac arrest with prolonged and unsuccessful attempt at CPR but with spontaneous return of circulation soon after CPR was discontinued." He was fitted with an Implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) against his heart, which sends an electric shock through to his heart if it stops again. The device also monitors his heart rate and sends readings back to the hospital. Three weeks after the freak cardiac arrest Joao returned to work as a cleaner and continued to live a healthy lifestyle. He said: "I remember my son and wife asked if I could carry on watching football - because I am crazy for football!" Mr Araujo, now a postman who lives with his new partner, visits the cardiology ward every six months for a check-up. He said: "Every time I go back, the nurses and the people who work there go 'The Miracle Man is back!' "Even people I don't know or recognise from different areas of the hospital say 'It's the Miracle Man! Everybody knows you, you are famous!" The postman has only had one issue with his heart since the attack in 2009. In 2015, he collapsed while working as a delivery driver but continued a full day's work before driving back home and visiting A&E. He said: "The doctors said that I have too much energy. It doesn't matter if I am in too much pain, I carry on." Source: Oxford Mail
  10. Moments That Relax You

    (Not written by me) Forest Holidays Doing Their Bit Forest Holidays are privileged to be situated in beautiful corners of the UK’s forests. They make a promise, hand in hand with local partners, Forestry England, Forestry and Land Scotland and Natural Resources Wales to help the forests thrive, so that they are better than ever for future generations. Here’s how: Over the last 45 years, Forest Holidays have sustainably created a small number of cabin locations in Great Britain. Whilst we occupy just 0.02% of the Public Forest Estate, the benefits each location brings to its local community are considerable. The locations remain in public ownership, are Countryside and Rights of Way designated and open to the public. By creating employment, sharing the economic benefits of tourism, and actively contributing to communities, we can help to sustain the quality of rural life for generations to come. Nature is central to our business ethos and we believe it is our responsibility to care for Britain’s forests, provide favourable conditions for wildlife to thrive and enhance the environment around us. Their commitment to caring for Britain’s forests starts with the immediate environment and extends to the wider forest, helping to support the work of Forestry England, Forestry and Land Scotland, and Natural Resources Wales. They care for the forest environment for today and manage it so that it thrives into the future. They have a long-term biodiversity enhancement strategy, which aims to make a positive contribution to biodiversity, wildlife habitats and people’s enjoyment at each of our locations They provide a long-term, sustainable source of funding to help Forestry England, Forestry and Land Scotland and Natural Resources Wales to carry out their responsibilities. They support projects on the wider public forest estate and their Conservation Fund is used to support ecological enhancement projects They contribute to the creation and maintenance of forest trails to enable people in and around the local community to enjoy the forest more easily It’s perhaps easy to think that nature should just be ‘left alone’ but many forests need to be actively managed to enhance their biodiversity. This is because many of our forests were actually shaped by man’s practises over centuries meaning that the ecology they support is dependent on those conditions being sustained. Forest management must take a long view and our commitment spans decades. We hope you’ll agree Forest Holidays are going lengths to ensure every contribution towards protecting and sustaining the environment matters. They design their locations to be in harmony with the forest, managing them in an eco-friendly way, taking active steps to protect and enhance the forest, and educating their teams, guests and visitors so that they can play their part too. Source: Greenfinder
  11. How do Members with travel with ASD and Aspergers

    That link is broken. Try: The new disability travel site making exploring accessible for all
  12. How do Members with travel with ASD and Aspergers

    Wilder Me (formerly Cool of the Wild) is offering autism retreats in Cornwall for autistic individuals travelling with their carers "from only £395pp".
  13. Help with Eco wellbeing & Activity break

    Cool of the Wild is now Wilder Me. Their autism retreats are targeted at autistic individuals travelling with a carer, so that rules me out.
  14. (Not written by me)Festivals are all about the collective. Who's carrying the beers? Who's going to hammer in the tent pegs while you hold the frame down in the wind (and let's face it, rain)? And who's got the spare bog roll when you run out with two days to go?Heading to a packed field this summer can be a daunting prospect when you're on your own. It can be nerve-wracking to strike up a conversation, especially when loneliness is rife among young people - a BBC study last year found that 40 per cent of 16 to 24-year-olds experience it often.Enter Camp Loner. Download Festival has led the way in making a noise about social isolation and loneliness at festivals, with the concept later spreading to the Bloodstock and Reading events.The annual rock and metal festival at Donington Park near Derby has played host to Camp Loner since 2008, offering a spot for the solo camper to meet new like-minded pals."Because it is alternative stuff, is rock and metal, and many people in our group didn't have a ton of friends in school and were marginalised," Ben Willmott, who helps to run Camp Loner, tells The Big Issue. "Obviously I am stereotyping here and that is not all of us but we do get a lot of people joining our group who are anxious and nervous and might only have a few friends online and that's it."It's genuinely one of the most heartwarming bits on a Wednesday afternoon when people arrive at the festival, seeing people chat when they hadn't even met just two hours before and they are relaxed and talking rubbish and really enjoying themselves. Friendships are blossoming and it's just great."Camp Loner was started almost by accident when one reveller from Jersey was let down by his friends a couple of months before the festival. He posted a plea for other people in the same position to join up with him at the campsite.That first year brought together a small core of 35 to 40 people but now as many as 1,000 people camp together in a special cordon of the campsite after organisers made the special community an integral part of the Download experience.And it is not just about five days in June either with Willmott, alongside fellow Camp Loner organisers Louise Bedwell and Chris Morris, organising meet-ups and keeping the "community vibe" going throughout the year.He says: "Going on your own can be very daunting - there is 90,000 of them and one of you, there's five whole days and you're in the middle of nowhere, what do you do? What do you say? Actually it is one of the easiest things in the world."Yes, you do have to sort of reach out to engage in conversation but that little investment pays back a thousand-fold in a matter of hours.""Big" Jeff Johns is all about conversation. The 36-year-old has become a legend in the Bristol music scene for his insatiable passion for gigs, sometimes taking in more than one per night.With his fuzzy blond hair and his 193 cm frame, Big Jeff is unmissable down the front enthusiastically getting into the rhythm, whatever the genre."My experiences at gigs have helped to save and change me. For me, it was the excitement of seeing the musicians that drew me to gigs and being able to connect to something," says Johns, who was diagnosed with Asperger's a few years ago."I find a lot of social situations very intimidating but as soon as I go somewhere and see a stage and PA set up I know that there is something that can take that focus away."Inclusivity is a big deal in the music world, something The Big Issue identified by including Gig Buddies in our 2019 Changemakers list for their work in allowing volunteers to team up with people who have learning disabilities to accompany them to concerts.And the ability to meet other gig-goers has been life-changing. "Without music I think I would be a recluse. I'd really struggle making friends and forming bonds with people because I find social situations difficult," Johns says."I gradually found myself being inter-connected with lots of different micro-scenes within Bristol. It helped me get over my social anxieties because then I know that in between bands I can talk to people and I'd often find that we would have a shared love or a shared hate."When you're waiting for the first set to start this summer, think about how reaching out to other gig-goers could help change the tune.Source: The Big Issue (paper edition)
  15. (Not written by me) Prisoners in England to be taught code The government is to fund a scheme that will see "carefully vetted" prisoners taught to code in order to better prepare them for the world of work. The project is part of a £1.2m effort to increase the digital skills of people from disadvantaged groups. The courses will be led by volunteers and industry experts and prisoners will work on real-world projects with external clients. They will start with basic coding before moving to a more advanced level. An award of £100,000 will be given to fund the project in two prisons initially - Humber [nr Everthorpe, Brough, East Yorkshire] and Holme House, [Stockton on Tees] in County Durham - as well as an employment hub in Sheffield. The hope is that the trials will eventually lead to a network of coding workshops in UK prisons. The programme is modelled on the Last Mile project in the San Quentin prison, in California, which has helped almost 500 offenders find jobs after release, with none of those taking part reoffending. That compares with a national reoffending rate in the US of 55%. Reoffending in the UK is estimated to cost around £15bn, according to the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. Minster for Digital Margot James said: "The government is committed to stopping the cycle of reoffending and a valuable asset to prevent recidivism is employment. "Equipping offenders with coding skills will help them into life-changing work and give them a path to a hugely rewarding career." Neil Barnby, who has been teaching coding to prisoners at HMP Humber, as part of an organisation called Code4000, said: "The workshops are reducing reoffending at a measurable rate, because we keep in touch with our graduates. "We are constantly seeing success after success. "When I started teaching in prisons, I thought that if I could change just one life, turn one person away from crime, then I have achieved something truly marvellous. "I look back on the years that I have been teaching coding in prisons and can see all the lives I have had a part in changing for the better. "Not just the ex-offenders but their families and, more importantly, their children. "It is an enormous sense of achievement - and with this funding, I look forward to changing even more lives." Prisoners will learn HTML, CSS and Javascript, before moving on to more advanced concepts such as Git, TDD, MVC, databases and full stack development. They will then work on real-world projects for external clients, with money earned being ploughed back into the project. Stage three of the process will see them working for clients on temporary day release, with the aim of helping them find full-time employment as developers when their jail terms are complete. Source: BBC News
  16. what if Wills and Kates baby has autism?

    You might just as well ask "What if one of Wills and Kate's children turns out to be gay?" Actually someone has already asked the Duke of Cambridge just that... William worries about "pressure" on his children if they come out as gay
  17. (Not written by me) Woofstock UK: The Devon Dog Festival With A Heart There’s no denying that the award-winning Woofstock UK is one of the most dog and family friendly festivals around. Voted ‘Best Day Out’ two years running by Dog Friendly Awards, it’s clear to see the passion and energy founder organisers and dynamic duo Heather and Carol Nesbitt-Bayley put into creating a fun-filled time for all. But what was the driving force behind this barking-mad couple creating the first Woofstock UK five years ago? What craziness made them wake one day and just say, “I know, let’s do a festival for dogs”? It all started with one life changing day back in 2012 when Heather suddenly fell seriously ill. She said: “I dragged myself out of bed one morning, feeling heavy and lethargic. Harry and Maggie, two of our dogs, didn’t bounce in for their usual morning greeting, instead they both stood stock-still and stared at me. My face and neck were covered in unexplained dark purple bruises, and although I tried to take the dogs for a walk, they wouldn’t allow me to leave the house and kept blocking me at every turn. “I was rushed to A&E where a doctor took blood tests, a brain scan and chest X-ray. The diagnosis was my immune system was killing itself and it was seeing my blood and platelets as foreign – basically I was dying. “It was a close-call as to whether I was going to make it through the night. “During my long stay at the hospital, the ‘Pets as Therapy dog’ came to visit which really lifted my spirits. When I was finally released from hospital I thought how amazing dogs actually are, and how our two dogs were fantastic by working out there was something seriously wrong! I spoke to Carol and said I’ve got a crazy idea – I want us to celebrate dogs and all animals, and to leave some kind of legacy – and the rest is history. “I’m still unwell and under the hospital’s neurology care. Carol and I want to carry on raising awareness and much needed money for both local and international animal charities for as long as we are able. That is how Woofstock UK was started as an annual one-day event in the middle of a field for horses which has grown year on year. We are so excited and delighted that we are celebrating our fifth anniversary with a crazy weekend festival in August!” The multi award-winning festival attracts thousands of visitors worldwide and this year is relocating to a 13-acre site based near Dartmouth with headline sponsor Bella and Duke. Held from Friday 16th – Sunday 18th August, it promises to be bigger and better than ever before and pawsome fun for happy hounds, dog-lovers and all the family. Traditionally a one-day event, it has proved so popular that it’s celebrating its fifth year with a weekend extravaganza, including camping, glamping and live entertainment. The only one of its kind in the UK, Woofstock prides itself on being ‘a festival by dogs for dogs’, attracting visitors year on year with its unique dog-orientated aspects. On arrival at the gate canny canines will collect bespoke 100% natural dog biscuit tickets specially made in the Netherlands by independent Ammy’s Delights. The Dutch company has been a great supporter, providing tickets and dog-show award hampers since Woofstock UK first began. Visitors will also be given a list of rules addressed to their furry friends, ‘pawed’ by Woofstock’s mascot, Spaniel Harry, to ensure everyone can relax and enjoy the event and all that it has to offer. Day-time activities include police dog displays, fun dog-shows and for a small fee ‘hot-dogs’ can cool off and have a splashing time in the special pooch pool supplied by the Soggy Dog Company who will be travelling down from Bedfordshire. With lots of things to see and do, including a diverse mix of trade stands; a shopping village and plethora of local artisan gastro delights and drink suppliers; it promises to be a fun time for all the family, with plenty of entertainment, including live music on the main stage and food and fayre for dogs, kids and grown-ups too! Heather concludes: “It’s a chance for like-minded people to come and have a really good time and it is all so chilled like puppy love. You don’t have to have a dog to come to Woofstock, just rock up and have a really good time. I promise you won’t get to the end of the weekend without having made new friends, whether that’s of the furry four-legged kind or of the human kind.” For more information and to book your Woofstock UK tickets, click here. Source: Grow Exeter
  18. (Not written by me) Fortnite creators say Prince Harry was wrong to say video game phenomenon was "created to addict" By Tom Hoggins Epic Games, the creator of video game phenomenon Fortnite have suggested that Prince Harry was wrong to label the game as "addictive" and said it "shouldn’t be allowed". “We were quite taken aback and really rather surprised because the statements that were made, in our view, couldn't be further from the truth from our intentions and design philosophy,” Epic’s senior counsel Canon Pence told the House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee (DCMS). “It's really always been our effort and intent to create a fun, fair, flexible, engaging and generous form of interactive entertainment for our audience. "So I feel like a statement that suggests that there was some sort of nefarious attempt to extract short-term profit is a real mischaracterisation." When asked by committee chairman Damian Collins if the firm felt that Prince Harry had "got it wrong", Pence replied: “I do.” Prince Harry had made the comments about Fortnite, which has over 250m registered players and made $2.4bn in revenue in 2018, during a visit to the YMCA in South Ealing. "That game shouldn't be allowed,” he said. “Where is the benefit of having it in your household?” "It's created to addict, an addiction to keep you in front of a computer for as long as possible. It's so irresponsible. It's like waiting for the damage to be done and kids turning up on your doorsteps and families being broken down." He added that social media was "more addictive than alcohol and drugs". Epic was giving evidence to the DCMS alongside fellow US game company Electronic Arts about a variety of topics on the gaming industry for the government’s white paper on a duty of care for technology companies. The almost three hour long, often fraught session covered topics such as game addiction, age verification and loot boxes. Both companies cast doubt over the World Health Organisations’ recent classification of "gaming disorder" relating to the overuse of games, with Pence saying: “We do participate in industry organisations which have taken issue with the manner and process of which that has gone through, there is plenty of debate over whether that process was proper.” “I think the use of the term addiction unfortunately masks the passion that our players have and the joy they get from playing our games, I think the term is a mischaracterisation.” Pence said that the upcoming white paper was “an important paper” but there was “more work to be done on it”. “It’s important for us to protect our players and we think it’s an important start,” he said. Source: Telegraph
  19. What's in your Lunchbox?

    Today I had a quinoa salad with sliced peppers, baby corn cobs, carrots and finely chopped red onions. I got the recipe from the side of a packet of quinoa, where it was called "Taboule [sic] of the Incas".
  20. 'Nature' being prescribed by GPs in Shetland

    A community woodland in my town runs a weekly Ecotherapy session. Also see this post in another thread: 'Nature became a support system': How autism helped me campaign for wildlife
  21. "Cat café" offers free sessions for autistics

    One's now open in Stratford-upon-Avon, which makes it the nearest to me as the crow flies. Too bad the frequency of rail and bus links from Leamington Spa leave something to be desired... Shakespaws Cat Café
  22. Recently opened in Grassmoor nr Chesterfield in Derbyshire... http://www.derbyshiretimes.co.uk/news/video-cat-cafe-is-the-purr-fect-place-to-unwind-1-8422025
  23. (Not written by me) High school boy with autism lands Miss Utah hopeful as his homecoming date after classmates play a cruel prank Michael, a junior at Taylorsville High, took Miss Greater Salt Lake to homecoming The teenager, who has autism, received a heartbreaking fake invite to the dance One of his teachers got in touch with the local beauty queen and asked for help Dexonna Talbot, a Miss Utah hopeful, said she cried when she heard of the prank Talbot walked into Michael's class and asked him to go with her instead A beauty queen has helped a bullied high school student get the last laugh on his peers. Michael Conrad, a junior at Taylorsville High School who has autism and ADHD, received a fake invitation to homecoming that left him upset and his mother 'sick to her stomach'. The culprits, who are yet to be identified, egged his home and left a note saying: 'I'm sorry for the mess. But how about I make it up to you by taking you to Homecoming?' Fox News reported. The note was attributed to a friend of Michael's, but when he confronted her about it, she denied all knowledge and told him she already had a date. Michael's uncle said on Twitter the teenager had: 'tried to hide the hurt when this happened but it was obvious that he was upset inside'. Hearing about the cruel prank, debating teacher Jenn Palomino said she was heartbroken, and determined to help right the wrong. She contacted Miss Greater Salt Lake, Dexonna Talbot, and asked if she might be able to help salvage her student's homecoming experience. Talbot, who will compete for Miss Utah in the next few months, said she felt called to act the second she heard about the fake invitation. 'The second I heard about this, I knew I wanted to do something,' she said. 'I automatically broke down into tears, because just thinking about the fact that someone would go out of their way to make someone else feel bad is so heartbreaking to me.' Holding a sign covered in Starburst - Michael's favourite candy, Talbot was filmed entering his high school classroom last week to ask him to homecoming - for real this time. Standing up, he can be heard responding with an enthusiastic: 'Sure!' As the pair chat, Michael's classmates can be heard applauding the unlikely match. On Saturday, Talbot shared photographs of the pair ahead of the big dance. 'Had the time of my life with the coolest, funniest, kindest and most amazing guy at homecoming tonight,' she wrote. 'Michael you are one of a kind. I am so humbled by this experience. Bullying sucks and kindness ALWAYS wins.' Speaking to friends on Facebook, Michael's mother Jennifer said she still doesn't know who played the cruel prank on her son, but the family have chosen to focus on the positives. 'We don't know who did it, but to us it doesn't matter,' she said. 'Through this experience our sweet boy was able to have the time of his life.' 'I just hope [the bullies] realize that you should [not] tear someone down to try and make yourself look cool.' Source: Daily Mail
  24. But just how "prolific" are the contributors to this issue? There's no information given about their other publications.
  25. Define "prolific".
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