The (not so) Mighty

I recently came across an article saying that The Mighty has apparently partnered up with the group controversial group Autism Speaks (AS).

I have been an occasional contributor to The Mighty, and I have also shared a number of articles from them on my various social media platforms, which might have, in turn sent people to their website.

I’m hoping that people who read this article will do some research, and come to their own conclusions. But I also feel that I need to have a discussion of some kind with the founders of The Mighty about my concerns about this partnership.

I’m aware just how much site traffic The Mighty gets from parents looking for answers to day-to-day issues regarding their children with autism. However, as I am someone who is on the autism spectrum (or neurodivergent), and someone who has contributed to their site, I cannot hide my disappointment, or that I find the partnership with AS both disgusting and unsettling.

AS has referred to autistic children as a burden! Their approach has consistently been one of ‘fixing’ the autistic individual, thus helping the patent of a disabled child relieve their ‘burden’. Instead of seeing that autism is not a burden, and helping autistic individuals to grow, learn and develop. AS may not be hell-bent on a ‘curing’ Autism anymore, but they aren’t exactly encouraging parents to nurture their children and celebrate their differences, as parents should.

AS also refuses to do much of anything to help autistic young adults and adults.

I’m hoping that people will take note of this particular partnership between The Mighty and Autism Speaks and spread the word. I have many of my blog posts and poems that I would share but I can longer in good conscience share my work with The Mighty when they partner with an organisation that preaches a eugenics policy. I cannot support that.

I’m sure The Mighty has suffered from, and will continue to suffer from this kind of PR nightmare, and will undoubtedly bounce back. I’m hopeful that if enough contributors and members of the autism community take a stand and raise their voices, that The Mighty might take note of us and end this disastrous partnership and support the autistic community properly.

Stay Safe X

Coming Soon!

The proof copy of my next anthology is finally here. All that remains is to get Mrs Bob to make sure it’s as it should be then it’ll be on sale.

#poetsofinstagram #poetryslam #poetrycommunity #poet #poetrybooks #actuallyautistic #neurodiversity #autismawareness #aspergerssyndrome #aspergerspoet #igers #i #spreadtheword

Face and Family Time

This weekend, Mrs Bob and I have been treated to a rarity. A WHOLE weekend off without having to use holiday time. So, I did the chores first. I went to the barbers on Saturday afternoon to catch up with the only guy I trust to style and sculpt my beard. The fact I’ve followed him from hairdressers is a sign of how good he is. Mrs Bob stayed home doing some cooking, and later we played Lego Harry Potter together and just had a lovely, chilled out night.

On Sunday, we decided to get up earlyish, and pop to the local farmers food market event in town, as it’s usually got some goodies that even both of us, with our various dietary requirements, can eat. This was a nice trip out – not too peoply and busy, and I got to chat about comic books and TV shows with the local bookshop owner.

After we’d had our fill of gluten-free, organic, vegan-friendly food and coffee, etc, we came home to relax with a movie, Split, which Mrs Bob really wanted to see, and some more gaming. Then, after a home cooked meal, we settled down with an evening drink and some more us time … and a lovely surprise! A FaceTime video chat with my eldest daughter. She’s just got her own apartment for her and my granddaughter, and she’s also at college, so it’s not often that we get a chance to catch up with her. It was fantastic to see her new flat, how well she’s doing and how grown-up she’s become. We’re both so proud of her. This was a beautiful way to end a really perfect weekend and made this old man very happy. I even suggested that, as I’m now going to have weekends off like most people, we could do it next Sunday. I’m starting to think about the future and maybe having my granddaughter down to stay for a holiday when she’s older. Maybe I’m getting soft in my old(er) age; maybe I’m starting to see the bigger picture and what holiday visits to my grandparents (on my mums side) meant to me and want the same happy memories for my granddaughter. Whatever the reason, I feel I’m maturing as a human being. And that can’t be a bad thing, can it.

Stay Safe X

Plain Sailing

It’s been an interesting couple of weeks since I left my last place of employment. Let’s start at the beginning.

I raised a grievance regarding a colleague, whose behaviour has been negatively affecting the premises, and other staff, for some months. This behaviour had been occasionally witnessed by the owners but various members of staff raising verbal concerns had fallen on deaf ears. This culminated in me having to work on a major calendar date that was my day off, (leaving my wife at home alone), because said person could not work it, due to illness. On the day, said person turned up to party the night away. Nothing was done. So, I raised a formal written complaint, because I was at the end of my tether.

Shortly afterwards, I was called into a discussion about my complaint. During this, I was told that while they agreed with some parts of the complaint and disagreed with others, they had taken my comments on board and said that they had some bad news.

They explained that due to financial constraints they could no longer afford to employ me. They said that maybe I’d find a better fit in an establishment with more rigid guidelines, due to my autism rather than aa establishment like theirs with a more relaxed vibe. (This upset me somewhat, as my autism should have nothing to do with it). They said that should business pick up and they were in a position to re-hire me, they’d be in touch. This made me feel better about the whole situation, alongside the fact that I wasn’t the only staff member to be let go at that time. So I picked myself up and got a much better job with more hours and a decent (salaried) pay increase and thought nothing more about it.

Until one of my old regular guests came in and mentioned that an old member of staff had returned full-time into my role. I thought this was nonsense, until another person told me the same. As I know the person they said was in my old job, I asked them if they had returned and was told. “Yes I have your old job haha”. While this upset me a little, as I had not been told the truth as to why I was let go, I’m in a much better place of employment now. There are lots of great staff who all pull together instead of pulling in separate directions, and it feels very professionally run. I’m given free reign in my role, and I’m told by other staff that I will be backed to the hilt by the owner if there are any issues.

I guess the moral of this story is if you are different, don’t rock the boat as you may fall out.

Stay Safe X

Season Three

After some nineteen months two Christmases, many happy hours behind the bar and in front of the roaring wood fire, even being snowed out of the village during the bad weather we had earlier in 2018, I’ve had to call time on this chapter of my working life.

This was a not a decision of my own making, or of the owners of the establishment, but more of circumstances outside of my control. While I’m sad to be moving on from there, the job helped me to escape from a previous job where I was desperately unhappy and treated poorly. I shall, however, take with me some very fond memories and some great new friendships.

Where am I going from here? Surprisingly I’m going to a venue that I applied to 19 months ago and was unsuccessful. The owner remembers me from my interview and contacted me. He wanted someone with my particular skill set, so I went down to speak to him and after agreeing terms and a start date, I’m all set to move to pastures new.

To all my friends, colleagues & regulars at my last place. I’ve really enjoyed my time in the village. It’s now time to close this chapter in my story and invite you to join me as season three begins and the journey continues. Hopefully, I’ll see some of you in the future. If not, then thanks for some great memories.

Stay Safe X

New Years Revolutions

On New Year’s Eve, we gathered together or stayed at home to watch the world say goodbye to the last twelve months and everything it had brought with it, good or bad. We also celebrated the turning of the wheel and the start of another year on this planet, most people will have made some sort of resolution about their life over the coming year, be it losing weight, more exercise, giving up smoking or drinking less. Whether they stick to it is another matter.

This year, I decided that I would no longer sit idly by and let people walk all over me. I’ve been allowing it to happen in a certain situation for nearly 19 months. The person concerned has got away with murder and I’ve never once complained about them or their attitude and actions, which have really impacted on me.

It happened a bit early for me though, on New Year’s Eve. The person was again rubbing my face in the fact that that they are apparently better than me and could do what they want, when they want, without consequence. So, as the bells chimed and rang in the new year, I made a decision and took a stand for myself and for my dignity. This was my year, I decided, and I was starting it right. With that, I finally told certain people that I was unhappy with how I was being treated and asked that they look at the evidence presented and make the playing field level, rather than being stacked against me.

The outcome became irrelevant in the end, because I had finally taken a stand and made my voice heard. It may not have sparked a revolution within the establishment, but I’m setting a precedent for myself. From now on, I will stand up appropriately for myself – if I’m unhappy ill say so instead of being forced by my nerves and anxiety to keep quiet, and suffering from headaches, bad stomachs and being grumpy to live with.

So I guess I have done the “new year, new me” thing after all!

Happy new year to everyone reading this, and apologies for the late posting. I hope it’s a really good year for you all.

Stay Safe X

Hate Speach

This evening while at the bar I came across something I’ve normally only seen online, and from someone who’s profession is such that I would expect better from them.

It started with a teacher who is also a local parish councillor and one of my regulars discussing various decisive subjects such as Donald J Trump and Brexit I tend to stay away from such subjects as they often cause heated discussions between those involved and I like to keep some sort of harmonious environment in the bar area.

This was fine until the said teacher began discussing vaccines which I stayed out of until he said that he hadn’t vaccinated his children as giving a child the MMR vaccine at 2 months old (it’s not given till 12-13 months old) would cause irreparable damage. He then began quoting the now barred and discredited Dr Andrew Wakefield’s research paper. I asked him if he was aware the research had been proven untrue and that as a result he was de registered as a doctor.

British Medical Journal Findings

The gentleman went on to say that Wakefield was right and it was a conspiracy to control the population. The regular then laughed at this comment as did a couple of other customers. Then came the worst remark I’ve ever heard personally. He then went onto say that he would rather not vaccinate his kids than have them become autistic as autistic people are such a drain on society and the NHS.

I nearly lost my temper with the customer at this point. I mean for someone who is supposed to be an educator this is such a ridiculous opinion regarding vaccines, but to then top that off with such a vile hateful and sweeping statement about the autistic community. Is disgusting, incorrect and damaging. I know a number of autistic people like me that have achieved so much. I could list the number of famous people that are on the autism spectrum. I could show figures and statistics to back this up but most people know that statement was factually inaccurate and wrong.

It saddens and angers me that in this day and age. That people will openly spew such vile things in a public place. Until now I’ve only experienced such hate speech online. Where the poster can hide behind anonymity and a computer screen. It seems that some people are now getting brave and regurgitating the rubbish they read and spout on the internet in public.It’s a shame that these kind of views still exist, be careful and as always.

Stay Safe X

Annual Gift Day

Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza or Yule – call it what you choose, it’s that time of the year when we decorate our homes with a tree, candles, and tinsel, and we have family and friends and family around to share drink and food. I’d like to take a look at things from the point of a person on the spectrum.

Autism and Christmas are not always the best mates. It can be a very stressful time for any family, but especially so for families with an autistic family member. Changes in usual routines, heightened expectations, and possible sensory overloads all add to anxiety levels and a sense of being overwhelmed.

Remember that every individual on the spectrum is very different. Each family and its dynamic is different, and will have its own traditions, routines and priorities. For some families, it is a rare occasion to enjoy seeing members of the extended family. Others find it is a time to share with just the immediate family members. Some might not have family, choosing to spend it either with friends or alone. Whatever the situation in your household, you will need to decide well in advance what your own priorities are.

If you have an austistic family member, it might help to ask yourself some of the following questions to help prepare for the festive season.

Guests and Family

  1. Who are the people you need to spend time with over Christmas?
  2. How long do you need to spend time with those people who do not form part of your daily life?
  3. How is everyone’s behaviour going to change – how will people greet others, how much you be eaten and drunk, how much louder/quieter will people be speaking?

Environment and House

  1. How much of the house will be decorated?
  2. Will there be Christmas-free zones?
  3. What sort of lights will be used? Will they flash?
  4. Will there be extra sounds, eg Christmas songs playing?
  5. How will the shops you visit change – seasonal goods, seasonal music, bands playing?

Routines

  1. How will television programmes change?
  2. Will you spend more or less time at home?
  3. When will your routines be restored?

Once you have established what your family’s Christmas celebrations will look like, the guest list is sorted and you’re clear what your priorities are, you will need to plan well in advance to help any of the autistic members of the family to prepare and to help to reduce their anxieties and confusion.

The main thing above everything is to not put too much pressure on the autistic members of your family or yourself. Just try to enjoy the holiday season and then start to prepare for next big event on the calendar, New Years Eve!

Stay Safe X

Branching Out

The other night I decided to do something completely out of my comfort zone and out of character for me.

It started with an email from the secretary of an organisation that I belong to, with an invitation. The branch in my home town was having a meeting, part of which was a talk on the branch’s longest-serving secretary, who had been in the role for 43 years. This 25-minute talk was fascinating, and it was really nice to see how things were done there, compared to my normal group. I don’t attend the one in my home town, because at the time I joined they met on an evening when I was routinely at work, so I had to go further afield.

The one thing I forgot about was the fact that, as a visitor, you are expected to stand up and say a few words to introduce yourself to the group. This was where, I must admit, I surprised myself. I was a little deer in the headlights to start with if I’m honest, but I didn’t do too badly.

Afterwards, I realised that I had managed to do something that I wouldn’t have normally thought possible. Visiting a strange, unfamiliar place, without anyone else there to support me, and not knowing anyone there either. At the end of the night, I had made a few new friends and, as a result, I’m now looking at other branches to visit and maybe make some more friends. I know – steady on, Bob, you could end up with a social life!

The main thing I’ve learnt is that if I push myself outside of my comfort zone, the results can be surprising. So it may seem scary at the time, but the results may be spectacular, though I know that’s not always the case.

Stay Safe X