Category Archives: personal

A Note to Parents

Doesn’t matter if they’re disabled or completely abled – here’s a note to parents on picture and filming etiquette when it comes to your children.

Imagine you are upset or distraught. It doesn’t matter why, when or where… You’ve lost your temper or you’ve just burst into tears – your emotions have gotten the better of you right at that moment and you just can’t control it any more – they’ve all just burst out. It may take you a little time to come back to yourself, calm down or cheer up – and get on with the business of being you – but you had a weak and vulnerable moment where you were completely and emotionally raw.

Now imagine that while you were in that raw and distraught state someone close to you shoved a camera in your face and either filmed it or took pictures of you in that moment. They took a moment when you were vulnerable and they took pictures of it – that they then proceed to put up on the internet for all their friends and your family to laugh at and to some degree ridicule.

How would you feel about their action? How would you feel about that person? That person close to you – who is supposed to care about you – would you still be their friends or talk to them after that? After they completely breached your trust that way?

If the answer is “No.” or that you would feel utterly humiliated and ashamed – that you wouldn’t want to talk to them after that – that you would be HORRIFIED to have a private moment where you broke down shared everywhere for the sake of comedy.

Take five seconds to think about the fact that millions of parents do that EVERY DAY with their children. Toddlers to pre-teens (Sometimes even teens). Every day there is someone uploading a picture or a short film of their child in a vulnerable and emotionally raw state for whatever the reason – ludicrous or not – up on the internet for their friends and family to see, for the world to see.

Your children have just demonstrated that they have the same emotions as you – why would you show a complete lack of empathy to them by sharing that moment? Maybe you can’t always fix it – maybe it is in reaction to being told no for some reason – maybe they refuse to let you comfort them… but that’s not the point. If they have to go through the whole thing without you being able to help them feel better… DON’T go ahead with something that were they your age would make them feel WORSE. That they don’t understand it isn’t a good enough excuse – you’re still humiliating them.

You want to share the experience with friends and family and hope for people to come up and say “oh me too- my kid does that too” so you have someone to talk to about it.. fine – USE YOUR WORDS and write it down. DON’T take a picture of it or film it. Because there is NO WAY your child can consent at the time to having their picture taken then (and likely if it were you – you wouldn’t consent to it – so why do you imagine they would?).

It’s not funny. And I don’t understand how you can’t SEE that.

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Filed under "matyr moms", family, human, mistakes, personal

A Letter To Ken Stewart Family Centre (18 Year Later)

Dear Ken Stewart Family Centre,

I don’t remember the names of the workers that my mother and I dealt with when I was attending your centre for 6 months (once a week for 6 months).

Ken Stewart Family Centre as seen from Cliftonville Road from Google Maps Streetview

Image Description: Ken Stewart Family Centre as seen from Cliftonville Road from Google Maps Streetview. It is a brown pebble-dashed building with a lot of cars parked in front of it.

I barely remember what they look like. I remember there was a man with brown hair, and I remember that there were two women, and that I occasionally saw a psychologist type who was also a woman.

Every Thursday for six months I was picked up from my lower school (when I was in year three) and I was taken in a mini bus with a bunch of other children to your centre. There were large rooms for art on the ground floor, somewhere on the 2nd floor there was a soft play room that we all loved going into, there was another room for both play and assessments where individually we’d be sat down and talked to and asked to do things or talk about things on this floor. Right in the attic there was a very large play room and there was a toy phone and reading books, there was a toy doll house -and we were told the story (or read to each other the story – I can’t recall which) of the Boy Who Cried Wolf. There was also an outdoor play activity area – and sometimes we had picnics.

In school I didn’t fit. I didn’t have the language – I didn’t have the way to explain how I knew I didn’t fit – I knew that everyone perceived me as different – that I HAD to be different, but I didn’t know what the differences were. I was seven when you saw me and I still had no idea what the differences between me and my classmates (and the adults) were. I just didn’t get it. I couldn’t understand HOW I was different.

At the centre – I fit! I knew one of the boys from church- I interacted with difficulty with the other children there – but I liked them well enough and we interacted as necessary. We mostly played by ourselves alongside each other and were happy to do so – and sometimes we approached each other.

That’s what I had been told I was there to learn. I was told I was there to learn to play with others. I was told and understood that the whole concept of me being there was to learn to play with other children because I got bullied so badly at school and thus needed to learn.

I had no idea that I was actually being assessed for my autism. The other children there had already been assessed and KNEW its what they had. They KNEW they were autistic or had Asperger’s Syndrome. When we interacted with each other in the attic we even compared one time – a bunch of 6 to 9 year olds all describing some stuff to each other and going “me too” – like proper little adults.

I don’t know how you tested me. But I know you got it wrong.

See- when my six months was up – it was end of term, the children were all saying goodbye for the summer and they’d be back again – and I was all excited and saying I’d be back soon and I WANTED to be back and to interact with them – they were my friends. Except you said no.

I remember saying I had the same thing as those children and I remember the man saying that I didn’t and so wouldn’t be returning. It was a massive blow.

I don’t know how it affected by mother – but for me – being told I DIDN’T have what they did, and I wasn’t coming back felt like a massive whump. I wanted to cry, I might well have done, I felt it was wrong and I was very upset. I wanted to come back, and I had belonged, wasn’t being bullied, had friends and now I was being told I DIDN’T belong.

I knew you were wrong. I knew that you got it wrong.

You had me for 6 months – and you were wrong. You were trained professionals and you got it wrong.

So I was sent back into normal school. And the bullying got worse. I had to leave the lower school you’d been picking me up from because a teacher had seen a parent telling her daughter to push me into the coat pegs. I went to a different school were the teaching was fantastic from the Year 4 teacher (I only got half a year with him) but where I as accused of being racist where I wasn’t and had boys deliberately smear dog poo on my dress.

I went to middle school and was bullied badly. I had my nose broken. I developed alopecia and my hair started to fall out in year 5 (when I was 10 years old). I would have girls from the year below me when I was trying to read quietly in the corner of the playground come up to me and sing “U-G-L-Y” at me.

I grew up, knowing I was different, having it become more and more obvious and with the bullying getting worse and worse. My mother worked at a special school – and one day had to bring me into work with her.

The other people that worked with her, the ones that had insisted her daughter couldn’t POSSIBLY be autistic and not in a special school instead of in mainstream school… all went up to her afterwards and said: “Wow – you were right – your daughter IS autistic.”

They got that from 2 hours. 2 hours where my mother came in, did her hours worth of work as a lunchtime supervisor, wrapped up and went home with me. I played with the other kids there, I fit with them nicely and they welcomed me and we got on just fine for that hour or so that I was there.

They saw in 2 hours or less – what you missed after 6 months of weekly sessions where I was in your care for 2, maybe 3 hours at a time.

The difficulties that my family and I had while I was a teenager were magnified because they didn’t KNOW for certain that I was autistic.

They felt it very strongly, but you had said no, they were uncertain. I wasn’t diagnosed, you had said no.

When I was 22 years old- I had to prove for social services and the court that I was autistic as I claimed to be.

I went for 6 sessions with a clinical psychologist who interacted with me. She phoned my family and had interviews on my background. She studied my answers to questionnaires and we had interviews and so on. There was even someone else doing training to observe some parts of my case.

I was diagnosed.

Asperger’s Syndrome. Absolute DEFINITE – No doubt in their mind at all.

I was given pamphlets to see what limited supports and things they could do for me now post adult-diagnosis of my condition.

You. Were. Wrong.

6 Months. And. You. Were. Wrong.

I get that everyone makes mistakes and that sometimes people slip through the cracks.

I get that because I didn’t have any kind of a diagnosis it wasn’t like schools to give me any REAL support for my difficulties. They couldn’t afford to hold my hand through the things I struggled with – I had to buck it up and learn like the rest of them.

I understand that my family were at the end of their tether. They knew something was wrong, didn’t know what – and they didn’t know for certain. I could have just been playing them and they didn’t know what to be strong on and what to make allowances for. So it damaged our relationship to a degree because we just didn’t understand each other – and I was getting more stressed and depressed because I didn’t fit right, and I was making my family upset with me.

I was making my mother’s depression worse. I was just wrong.

I get that people make mistakes.

But it could have been prevented if you hadn’t.

The MULTIPLE suicide attempts I made during my teenage years MIGHT have been avoided had you NOT gotten it wrong.

(They might not have, I’m willing to accept that’s a possibility).

It has taken until I’m in my mid-twenties for my family and I to really start clicking, seeing eye-to-eye with each other and develop proper coping strategies. To read up on all the things related to my condition and do the check lists – to find out what works for me and what doesn’t.

We still have mistakes that are made and awkward moments and still get angry with each other sometimes. There are still times when we mess up -but there is more understanding now. Forgiveness is a little quicker. The learning curve on both sides becomes slightly less steep.

But you were wrong.

Think of how much more progress we might have made, had my diagnosis been 18 years ago, and not 3.

You were wrong.

And I’m still kind of mad at you for that.

Every time my mother bursts into tears because she didn’t know then what she does now – and all the time we lost…

I’m kind of mad at you for that.

6 months. And you got it wrong.

Not-Yours-Definitely-Mine,

Becca.

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Filed under autism, family, human, learning, mistakes, past, personal

To Hell With Your Experience Cut Off

Originally Posted on “Rages and Random Thoughts” (my personal blog on that site) on Quora.

Well, blast, bugger, damn and as many expletives as you can think of or muster.

I’ve mentioned, somewhere, that I’m a member of the UK Green Party – it’s the only political party I’m a member of – and while there are some policies that personally I think should be revisited on the grounds of “lets actually use information on technology used in this decade and not 40 years ago – because being informed is never a bad thing”- I’m still rather dedicated to a good deal of it’s policies.

I’m also staring Job Seekers in the face when my son turns 5 next year and I am DREADING it – I’m truly, to the centre of my soul and heart – terrified. I have to be able to have some energy for taking care of my son, and doing all the normal things you have to do in a day takes up quite a lot of “spoons” for me (sapped out of me by my autism and depression). I have been to work before – I worked in a dry cleaners and what happened was that I would come home, every evening, and be so exhausted I just fell asleep (generally on the sofa) and couldn’t move until waking up in the early hours of the morning so I could do it all over again. There was literally not a scrap of extra energy for anything at all like house work in me. Some days there wasn’t even enough for getting food.

The thought of having to try and do that while I have a child to take care of stresses my mind beyond all reason. It keeps me up at night- it causes me to break down in tears at random, I’ve even had the shakes (convulsive panic attacks that I had a good deal as a teen) brought on from it.

What is even worse than that is going to the job centre every two weeks, sitting in a crowded building, (while having to wait while standing up which hurts my legs because I have intermittent issues with my knees), sitting across from an “adviser” (who proceeds to type one finger at a time in a fashion that just makes my touch-typing fingers itch uncomfortably), having to fill in a diary and show it to them proving I’m looking for work…

Work that either I WON’T be suitable for (physically, mentally, emotionally – or without putting myself and my son at risk; which I’m not allowed to apply for), or doesn’t exist – or isn’t for someone with my lack of experience/qualifications (which again I’m not allowed to apply for – as it invalidates the process and can get me sanctioned).

I specifically – if I’m going to manage at all – need a job working from home. I’ve tried an environment where I’m around people closely or requires some sort of day-to-day, face-to-face interaction, as well as a walk/commute – and I cannot balance it and my REQUIRED home life (of house work and doing all those things with Kai that I need to do to make sure he’s happy, well rounded and fed).

I know this. I’m not talking out of my ass. I’m not work shy. I WANT to work – I DESPERATELY want to work and have a decent job or non-benefit income. I spend my life feeling utterly and inexcusably pathetic, stupid and worthless for being on benefits. Stressing week to week about how I can juggle everything to afford all my bills and what little pieces of life require money but make life even vaguely tolerable. There’s not a week or even two days that pass by without me reading, seeing or hearing about how awful, terrible and worthless scum I and others like me are for being on benefits – these drains on the poor tax payers.

There have been some points, within the past 4 years, when this stress, fear and feelings from being on benefits and the utter hopeless feeling of trying to get a job I can actually do in this job market – has brought me to the brink where the only thing stopping me from slitting my wrists is the fact that I don’t want to do that to my son and mother.

Excuse me a minute I need to stop crying so I can see the screen properly.

I will do anything – ANYTHING – that I can, and will get me in a job from home that will pay all my bills, rent, council tax and allow my son and I to be truly independent from the state.

Recently in the Green Party Newsletter they had an opening for an admin assistant. One that could be done from home, and even advertised that it would either be from London OR if possible – from home.

Admin Assistant – That’s PERFECT for me. It plays to all my skills that I’ve built up over the years. What skills are necessary that I have not refindly polished entirely my grandmother and mother are both trained in and COULD help me/teach me to a high standard.

I did the work experience in school as an admin assistant at a small consultancy firm when I was 13. I got all A’s on my sheet, I was the FIRST assistant they had who had done the filing they gave me both properly, without supervision AND taken OUT the personal files that were just the boss’ and not the company’s and thus shouldn’t have been in those papers – and I walked away from my two weeks… with two job offers from them (unfortunately there was an issue with one of their other employees not being able to get a background check to work with a minor long term – so those fell through).

But when I saw it – I couldn’t believe it.

3 days a week, from home, my DREAM “I’m-fully-capable-of-doing-this-I-am-the-shit-at-this!” job for £20-25,000 a year…

And it requires 5 years of experience in this role, experience in Green Party local or regional functions, experience of managing volunteers – and they desire quite strongly a university degree.

I was shattered. Angry, upset, broken and it just made me break down into tears all over again as if I was right there -staring at a Job Seekers adviser and having to explain why I will continue to be worthless scum for yet another two weeks, praying to all the gods and goddesses that will listen that they don’t sanction my benefits and leave me and my son starving.

It was like I was back to being a teenager when I would get an application form for a shop assistant job and discover the form stating that I absolutely MUST be in work already and under no circumstances would they accept applicants who were out of work. Desperately scrabbling to get some sort of experience under my belt, anything – anything at all – that would get me into the job market.

If I’d of had ice cream in my apartment this afternoon and not been in such desperate need of a grocery shop – it would have been all gone by the morning after this.

Unlike my not-partner Link, I’m just not comfortable applying for this job on the “it doesn’t hurt” basis. I know that they will reject my application out of hand. I know that I don’t have two referees to point people to (since the company I last worked for as any sort of long term employee – bit the dust 5 years ago). I also know that employers are often MORE firm about their requirements when they say “the successful applicant WILL have” – and will not be swayed by my sob story. It’s a given that there are people out there in the Green Party who have all  – if not a massive majority over me – the skills that they are looking for to fulfill this position who are jumping at the opportunity.

So – if you don’t mind -I’m just going to sit here, cry, feel shattered and worthless and get more and more pissed off at my phone company for having a bad net connection they’ve not fixed on my line which means I can’t entertain myself with Netflix.

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Filed under benefits recipient, human, jobs, personal, politics