Autism awareness week – Speak Up

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This week is World Autism Awareness Week and we are Speaking Up and standing up for autism.

Its not just about raising funds for autism support it is about spreading the word and raising awareness.

Here are some facts and statistics about autism.

  • Autism is a serious, lifelong and disabling condition. Without the right support, it can have a profound – sometimes devastating – effect on individuals and families
  • It is a spectrum condition, which means that, while all people with autism share certain difficulties, their condition will affect them in different ways. Some people with autism are able to live relatively independent lives but others may have accompanying learning disabilities and need a lifetime of specialist support.
  • Autism is much more common than many people think. There are around 700,000 people in the UK with autism – that’s more than 1 in 100. If you include their families, autism touches the lives of 2.7 million people every day.
  • Autism doesn’t just affect children. Children with autism grow up to be adults with autism.
  • Autism is a hidden disability – you can’t always tell if someone has it.
  • While autism is incurable, the right support at the right time can make an enormous difference to people’s lives.

 

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Raising two children who both have a diagnoses of autism has made me really realise how vast the spectrum is and its this degree of variation that leaves many struggling with little or no support.

There need to be more investment placed in early and true diagnoses and support given.

There also needs to be more support to those who care for children and adults with autism.

I can honestly say that why I love my children with all my heart at times autism has led me to some isolated places. Its hard watching your children struggle to understand, get frustrated or anxious. Its also hard when you are the receiver of their frustrations. Having the right support and guidance is invaluable.

So that is why this week I am Speaking Up to raise awareness of Autism.

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Please visit the The National Autistic Society and learn more about Autism

 

 

Don’t forget to join in with this weeks Speak Up and tell me what your are passionate about and let us support and encourage each other.

Fostering is a career.

I’m excited to share with you the news that I am now blogging over at the Fostering with Progress blog where for the next 6 months I will be writing a number of articles on a variety of foster care subjects.

As many of you know I have been fostering now for over five years and I am extremely passionate about what I do.

Here is my first post which I am also sharing here; as I think it is interesting for all not just foster care professionals.

 

One of the most common misconception’s regarding foster caring is that it’s just like raising your own children. A agonizing stereotype I know, yet this limited perspective of what is really involved, also leaves many believing that you need to have raised your own children to be a foster carer which actually is not the case. 

Quickly I shall dispel other common pigeonholed viewpoints, yes; you can be a parent already, no you don’t need to previously have had a child of your own. Your marital status, sexuality, religious or cultural background will also not prevent you from fostering.

Fostering is a profession, it involves a skill set that extends well beyond the typical parenting prowess, yet the only real qualification you need to have is the desire to support and guide children. There are various types of fostering; including Emergency, Short- term, Long-term, leaving care, short break, parent and baby, and specialist care, yet all share an identical factor, the placement of children, whom through no fault of there own have been separated from their birth family and are often vulnerable, damaged and hurt. 

In the best cases you are dealing with bereavement, while the worst circumstances can involve abuse and, or neglect, at first this seems a rather bizarre assertion, the cold reality however, is a child who has suffered neglect / abuse, or even both, often suffer with more psychological stresses and fears.   

Unlike most caring professions, fostering gives a new meaning to the term full-time, it’s far cry from shift based employment, and you don’t get to go home and leave it all behind. Fostering isn’t easy and to be truthful it shouldn’t be, it’s a profession, which holds the wellbeing of a child in its hands. Yet as a foster carer you can lead a fulfilled career whilst making a difference in the life of a child, plus you can achieve personal development and qualifications that are suited across the care sector. Though each company is different, my agency; Progress Care; certainly encourages us to extend our skill set and education.

While money should never be the reason you become a foster carer, an income is necessary for the majority to be able to foster, the provision of a living wage enables us carers to flourish in a role that can be exhausting and challenging and yet personally for me, has been so rewarding.

You get to make a difference in the life of a child, complete job satisfaction. 

 

 

We are all in this together.

Throughout our lives we find ourselves becoming parts of communities, part of set groups or to use the sociology term subcultures.

Be it a group of work colleagues , all the technicians together. Be it a parenting group, parents of two year olds please hang here. We come together through shared experiences or passions.

We are never really ever only in one group, different aspects of our lives play into different groups.

Myself I belong to many, parents of teenagers, parents of 12 year olds, foster parents and also the one group I really wish I never had to join parents who have lost a child.

All these groups I am proud to be part of but one thats on my heart right now is parents of children with special needs, especially as I like to call them my Special Kids in the UK family.

This is one amazing group, you find us  in all shapes and sizes . We have varying beliefs and certainly different personalities. Our children have different conditions even with the same diagnoses or in some cases no diagnoses.

So what makes this group rather special?

We can bitch and moan as good as it gets but when one of us is hurting we stand along side them.

If you were my friend on Facebook today you would see that my news feed is full of pictures of Minnie mouse. These pictures are our way of showing one of our members that we stand beside her. Most us wish that we could literally be standing beside her tomorrow as she lays to rest her beautiful son. We wish we could swap our virtual hugs for real squeezy ones.

Thinking of you xxx
Thinking of you xxx

But we cannot,

Life, children and distance keeps us separated. Yet nothing will stop us thinking and sending our love and wishes in support, compassion and remembrance tomorrow.

This same group right now are also sending prayers and healing to children in hospital. Sending strength to parents who are utterly exhausted. Families that are at breaking point.

At times we cannot offer more than the words “I’m here”  but believe me over the years those words have meant a great deal.

I am blessed to be a member of this group. For over the last 8 years they have been my strength. I have made friends whose friendship goes over and beyond the fact that we are special needs parents.

When I lost Livvy one of the crazy worries I had in my head was that I would lose these friends. How wrong was I, our children may have been what introduced us but they aren’t what bind us.

Maybe our binds are forged in exhaustion, endless battles with professionals and way to many late nights. Maybe they were joined in the many melt downs and medical jargon and repetitive forms.

Who knows, who cares, regardless of the why there is simply the just is.

I am so thankful to be part of this unique subculture to know and to share my life with these crazy people. At times I am not sure I would have coped without one or many of the group members.

Together we have faced the worst.

I am so grateful that one day many years ago I stumbled upon a small yahoo group. I have watched in grow over the last 8 years watched the number of members change from the tens into the thousands.

Being a member of this group means that although we may be facing uncertain futures with our children. We are never facing them alone.

We are all in this together.

 

Show me my direction.

Today in church we were asked if there was one thing in our hearts that we could bring before God what would it be?

First of all my mind was full of prayers requests, the health of people I love and care about. Then I realised the vicar was asking about our hearts. What we want to achieve.

DIRECTION

I would confess that i am struggling with direction. My heart and head is full of many different ideas. Issues I want to raise, causes I wish to support. The simple thing is I just don’t know where to begin. Or if this is even the pathway God wants me on.

I sometimes pray for the trumpet call that will lead me where the Lord wants me.

I know I have to be patience but I struggle with that. A lesson I’m learning on a daily basis.

“Because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.”James 1:3, NIV

So if today I could bring anything before God it would be that he shows me the direction he wants me to go. So that I may work at bringing glory to his name.

” Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”
(Isaiah 30:20-21, NIV)”