Autism + food = Argh!

Our son has a small range of food and drink that he’ll acceptably consume and has done for a number of years now. Anything else is considered poison and to be avoided at all costs. There are of course many reasons for this be that routine, fearful of trying something new and super sensitivity to taste and smell. This was also one of signs that confirmed his autism to us before getting a diagnosis. As a baby/toddler he would pretty much eat anything within reason, curry vindaloo for example was not offered, but then suddenly instead of a buttered cheese sandwich he would only eat it without cheese, then without butter and finally not even the bread.

As other foods dropped off his accepted list one by one at around the age of four it settled down to a set range which didn’t change for a couple of years. It consisted of a bowl of porridge every day for breakfast, dry food snacks during the day, some fruit and a handful of set healthy meals in the evening. When out and about the only other food he would accept would be chips from McDonald’s or certain thick chips from a restaurant depending on how they were cooked and their shape. We counted ourselves fortunate as even though it isn’t a big range it’s a relatively healthy one consisting of enough fibre, fruit and vegetables.

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The only real challenge this ever causes us is when going away on holiday as we need to take all of Jake’s food with us. This usually consists of my wife and I sacrificing certain items so that we can squeeze in enough food for the holiday and still get under the baggage allowance. Who needs spare shoes and sun tan lotion anyway… The food is always spread over three suit cases just incase one gets lost to avoid a complete disaster. It’s probably always raised an eyebrow or two at the airport but only once have we had to persuade customs to let us keep all of it. After explaining the situation the kind person at U.S.  Customs allowed us to keep his pot meal dinners as long as we didn’t put the leftovers down the waste disposal.

Since his six birthday, almost a year ago now, he’s alarmingly been going backwards. There’s been a few positives with him eating ice cream for the first time, randomly eating a slice of bread whilst laughing to himself and always wanting to have a fish finger or sausage on his plate when we’re having them. He’ll happily hold the sausage/fish finger and study it but has never tasted one. Still it’s progress. However, he’s now stopped eating yogurts, Oatcakes, Crackers, Mini Crackers, Salt & Vinegar French Fries and McDonald’s chips. Apples and grapes also appear to be on the verge of being permanently on the banned list. This has led to a very small range that he will now eat if and he gives up any more it will cause a serious issue with him having a healthy diet.

As well as refusing to eat food he used to love he also can’t stand the sight or smell of them or others. If I were to eat a bag of the salt and vinegar crisps he’ll now jump on the sofa with his back to me and cover his face with his hands until I’m finished. As soon as I’m finished he’ll take the empty bag and put it in the bin and then he can relax again. Even though I tell him he doesn’t have to eat them he’s still upset and on edge at that fact they’re in the same room. When out at restaurants now he’ll sit on the chair with his back to us covering his face until we’ve finished eating where once he’d happily sit and eat food we’d brought with us and play with his toys. After finishing our dinner we now have to wait for dessert until he’s finished eating the poppadoms we brought with us.

IMG_9869The worst experience recently was when we went to the drive thru McDonald’s near our home. He used to love getting a happy meal. He only ever ate the chips but loved the toy and enjoyed choosing whether to include a burger or nuggets. As we pulled up to the restaurant we asked him if he wanted a happy meal and he kept shaking his head, he’s non-verbal, and got upset pointing to home. Despite telling him he didn’t have to get one and mummy and daddy were going to get something for themselves he became increasingly upset. This carried on until we got home where he went screaming and crying into the house before trying to take our meals away and put them in the bin. He eventually calmed down and went back to his old self as soon as we’d finished and the wrappers were disposed of.

Even though Jake is unable to speak he’s very good at communicating but on issues such as this he’s unable to get across why he doesn’t eat certain foods or can’t stand them near him. I suspect his senses have changed and certain smells are too much for him as well as textures. Some of it could be behavioral though but I can’t be sure. I think the time has come now for us to seek some professional help as we need him to start eating different types of foods again for his health and to tolerate others for his own benefit as it will prevent him from going to places in the future.

Other parents might say well don’t give him anything else until he eats what you want him failing to understand how hard it is for him. I know if we said there’s nothing else to he’s eaten a new type of food he’d starve and end up at hospital on a drip. We’ve tried bribery promising him new toys/etc. but to no avail. I just wish there was more I could do as food is yet another big hurdle for our little dude to overcome…

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TeeChip are thieving sods. Beware!

My wife had purchased a couple of items from a company called TeeChip back in March 17 and received the usual confirmation email with the money taken straight out of our account. A couple of weeks past and the items had not yet arrived so my wife emailed asking what was happening and received no reply. Yesterday she asked for my help to see if I could contact them another way. I found a page on their website where you could enter an order number and worryingly it wouldn’t recognise it. Alarm bells were ringing!

I wish she’d asked me first before making the purchase as I never buy anything online from a company I haven’t heard of  without first checking them out. Twitter, Facebook and other review sites all had negative comments against them. These range from taking people’s money without supply goods, adding items to an order without consent and facilitating selling t-shirt designs that haven’t been authorised by the original artist. It became apparent she’d been scammed and was just another victim in what is probably a very long line.

teechip twitter

Despite the negative reviews I posted on their Twitter feed, Facebook page and sent an email inquiry via their website asking for assistance and registering my displeasure. Predictably I have heard nothing back. Next step contact the credit card company to get our money back. This is just a reminder that the internet is full of scumbags and to prevent yourself being ripped off if you haven’t heard of the company before (a) check them out on social media and the internet (b) always use a credit card as it covers you against fraud.

In the end it wasn’t a lot of money that we had lost and we’ll probably get it back from the credit card company but it’s more the inconvenience and knowing that you’ve been scammed. Plus, my wife had purchased a couple of items for autism awareness week that she wanted to wear with pride as our son is autistic. TeeChip you are pure scum!

Autism discrimination when adopting a child

Jake Snow

A couple of years ago my wife was told that she could no longer have children due to a medication she needed to take to prevent her being in constant pain. It’s necessary but as you can imagine caused us a certain amount of heartache upon hearing the news as we were just considering expanding the family. We’d delayed having any more children for years until we were sure our son’s needs could still be met whilst caring for another child.

After a year or so we’d decided that the only path available was adoption. Fostering was considered but we knew we couldn’t handle constantly saying goodbye to a child we grew to care for. My hat goes off to those that can and do. We did our research, attending an open afternoon, completed our application and had the home visit. Everything was going fine and the home social worker, and people we had previously spoken with, had all made positive noises until they dropped a bombshell. Sorry but your son’s autistic so there’s no point proceeding any further. Er, what?!

Yes, of course you tick all the right boxes we were informed. Our house was perfect, we were perfect, our finances were perfect, our support network was perfect and our plans for my wife to take a year off work then reduce her hours was perfect. It was just that our gorgeous little lad would have had such a massive negative mark against us as a family that we would never be chosen by local authority placing social workers. We were told that we’d most likely go through the application process fine and get approved as adoptive parents but be forever confined to the back of the queue as we would be discriminated against for our disabled child no matter what glowing references we came with as a family.

We were disgusted, angry and heartbroken all over again at the final chance of expanding our family was removed and such hurtful discrimination could be aimed at our son who we love so much. Below is a response I presented to the local authority which summed up our emotions and thoughts at the time. Of course a bog standard reply was provided to this and we had reached the end of the road…

Firstly, thank you for coming to our home and discussing the application process. I know the decision has already been made and understand there’s little point in proceeding with our application to become adoptive parents due to the prejudice we would experience from placing social workers due to being parents of an autistic child. At the time I had a mixture of confusion, shock and disappointment when you had raised concerns of our son’s social interaction and the huge negative effect this would have on being chosen from a prospective adopters list. Since then I have to say my emotion has changed to anger and resentment.

We have a nice home, are in good health, a good support network, our finances are very secure and we have a proven track record of being devoted parents who will do everything they can to ensure a child has the best start in life. My wife, being a teacher, was also prepared to take a year off work to bond with the child and there after only work three days a week. The other two days they would have attended either the nursery attached to the school, or indeed the school itself, where my wife works so she would see them as much as possible.

To have all of these positives completely disregarded as our son is autistic and has social interaction issues is astonishing. Not only that it’s insulting towards my son that he is considered to be a worse impact on a child’s well being than a parent who could be morbidly obese, smoking or any of the other rules on who can be an adoptive parent that have recently been relaxed. Jake is a wonderful boy and once somebody gets to know him they will feel the same as would a child coming into the family. The negatives that a new child coming into the home may possibly feel rejected by him is a lazy excuse in my opinion by any placing social worker making that judgement. I could easily spin that on its head in that our son would be accepting of anyone coming into the family, he won’t try to force them out of the home, potentially bully them due to jealously, etc. Our experience of children coming into the home is that they take Jake for who he is and are fond of him regardless. It’s a real shame that adults in 2016 can’t do the same…

I think that we have shown, and would have demonstrated during the adoption process, that we have the patience, commitment and skills necessary to re-assure a new child coming into the home and make them feel part of the family. With all that being said people are people with their prejudices and preconceptions and as you have pointed out the system won’t allow for a placing social worker to have the time to get to better know our son and change their mind. That’s a real shame and quite discriminatory especially in this day and age. I imagine in twenty years time when people are more aware of autism this type of discrimination will be looked back on in horror.

In light of the current situation I would recommend *removed* council, and other authorities, amend their websites and literature to explain that families in our position should need not apply. During my initial phone calls with the adoption team, further email correspondence, contact with staff at the information meeting that we had attended and on the enquiry form we had submitted we had always stated that we have an autistic child with social and learning difficulties.

At no point previously had anyone raised concerns that it would it would be a pointless exercise and neither does the literature on the website. I think best practise would be to immediately raise concerns and inform parents that it’s a road not worth going down. Nobody we spoke to had done this and indeed during the home visit everything seemed to be going great until the discussion moved onto our son. Maybe we were naïve but from our point of view everything seemed to be going well during the home visit and we were ticking all of the boxes. It came as a complete shock to be told our son would unfairly dismiss us as potential adopters.

Even more disappointing isn’t the fact it would prevent us from passing the selection criteria and approved by the panel but that placing social workers would forever not choose us because of my son’s disability. It may be the harsh truth but it’s a very ugly one. We have worked hard, as has our son, to get to where he is now. He is well behaved, happy and doing well at school. Whilst he’s non verbal he’s making good progress and forming some basic sounds and words and his non verbal communication and comprehension is excellent as noted by his speech and language therapists. Indeed we had waited for a number of years to expand our family as we had wanted our son to get this stage where we are confident we have the time to devote to another child and our son is ready for a sibling.

I know you had made your judgement on our son based on the hour or so you had been able to observe him whilst you were talking to us about the adoption process. As would be the case if a placing social worker were to visit us. I would like it to be noted though that he had just come home from school and wanted to relax and play on his own which I think is pretty natural for most children. He isn’t a child who will normally initiate communication and at no time had you tried to get to know him or properly interact. One of my wife’s friends, whom he had never met, came round awhile ago and she made the effort to get out a blanket with some toys and they played a lovely game together with plenty of non-verbal communication. Last week we told him she was coming again and he immediately got the blanket and brought it to us. At first we didn’t realise why he did it until we remembered the game they had played which he obviously had enjoyed.

Whilst I do appreciate the honesty it would have been a lot easier to take if everyone we had talked to had raised their concerns. Also, I think if this is such a negative factor then surely instead of spending two hours talking about our reasons for adopting, finances, etc. a meeting should have been arranged where our son was in attendance and he could have been assessed first. Indeed if our son hadn’t of been at home how far down the road would we have been allowed to go with our hopes raised even further before they were finally dashed?

As my wife is no longer able to conceive naturally this is the end of the road for us which will take some time to come to terms with. We’ll bounce back as we always do and move on but I will never see sense or forgive those that judge our son and who cannot see that a child coming into our family would be content and lead a happy prosperous life.

 

Is my child autistic?

A friend of ours, whose daughter is austic, recently asked us how we knew and when we got Jake’s diagnosis of autism. My wife and I had to cast our minds back and it re-iterated to us, with hindsight, how obvious it was and why it was quite a simple process to achieve confirmation from a paediatrician of ASD. We were told early on by a health professional that a doctor wouldn’t take us seriously until he was at least two years old but we had known long before this.

From the moment he was born Jake had trouble breast feeding and couldn’t latch on properly. He wasn’t putting on enough weight and was crying for more milk. After a week or two the midwife told us to put him on the bottle if it didn’t improve. I still remember now heading up to the supermarket at 3 AM to buy some baby food formula and getting back home to figure out what the hell to do with it! Even then we quickly discovered that we had to use the teets that enable the milk to come out easier that were for older babies. This wasn’t necessarily related to his Autism as Jake also has Dyspraxia but the two combined meant his co-ordination and ability to manipulate his body weren’t working as they should.

At the time we had put the above down to “not all children breast-feed successfully” and had thought nothing of it. As the weeks/months rolled on my wife, who was with Jake 24/7 started to pickup on the fact that he wouldn’t settle easily for a sleep or make eye contact with her. In fact she used to get him to sleep in the end by looking into his eyes whereup Jake would close his and finally drift off. The fact that we had also made a decision to put Jake to sleep downstairs during the day in a cot wasn’t helping as there was too much noise and light. We had thought lets get him use to being able to sleep anywhere but of course to him this was a complete sensory overload. My wife grew suspicious that something wasn’t quite right.

As he got older my wife grew concerned and she was becoming upset at the fact that at six months old Jake was crying endlessly at times and she didn’t know what was wrong. He’d also get extremely upset when she attempted to take him out to playgroups and nine times out of ten she would have to leave and come back home. Upon returning home he’d settle down and was fine. Looking back it was just too noisy, too much going on, too many people and he couldn’t cope. I’d often come home to Jake screaming/crying with my wife also in tears not knowing what was wrong but knowing something wasn’t right but wrongly blaming herself too. Friends, family and health professionals would just say the same re-assuring things along the lines of every child is different and develops in their own way.

More months rolled on and Jake started to play with toys, crawl and stand. This was probably the time we knew something was definetely not right and we needed to research. His playing with toys consisted of choosing the same ones and doing the same things with them over and over again. The favourite being the stacking cups which he would just endlessley spin around and around along with lining them up in the same order over and over again. He started to crawl but could only go backwards and went from this to standing. He never crawled forwards in the end. Between the ages of one and two when he started walking he would be extremely unsteady on his feet and constantly banging into things/falling over far more than children of the same age. Again this was more linked to his Dyspraxia we later learnt as his core muscles and co-ordination were not developing as normal.

The final confirmation for us was between 12 – 18 months when he had started to talk and had about a dozen words in his vocabulary. One day he suddenly stopped and would say nothing. We’d already done our research and had strong suspicions. This just re-enforced our belief that our son had autism and we were ready to get a diagnosis to then get the help that we needed and was available. The nearer he got to two years old the more apparent his condition as he was still not talking, still obsessed with spinning cups, playing with the same toys, not interacting with anyone, oblivious to the world around him, sensitive to noise, sensitive to light and more besides.

Not long after his second birthday we had gone to your local GP and explained his symptoms and our diagnosis. Whilst in the doctor’s room Jake just ran from one side of the room to the other laughing to himself completely oblivious to the world around him. It took five minutes for the very nice doctor to give us a referral to a specialist paediatrician. Awaiting our next appointment other incidents would occur with Jake getting extremely distressed at light coming into the car on his face or the hoover in the house being too loud both overloading his senses. The solution having to get tinted windows for the car and only hoovering when Jake was on another floor in the house. Food had also become an issue and where he would once eat buttered cheese sandwiches he regressed firstly he ate them without the cheese, then without the butter before finally not even the bread. He still doesn’t to this day and has an acceptable range of food and drink that hasn’t changed for years.

A few weeks later we went to the hospital to see the specialist and again it didn’t take very long for her to come to a conclusion. Five years on I still remember it now in response to my question “So do you think he’s autistic?” she replied in a thick Australian accent “well, it’s bloody obvious isn’t it”. That made us chuckle and even though it was confirmation from a professional that Jake had a mental illness it meant that he could get all the help that he needed to improve his life. It also meant that fiends/family who were in complete denial and insisted that there was nothing wrong and he would “grow out of it and catch up” could finally be told to sod off!

EU Referendum – The Aftermath

EU OutBlimey didn’t see that one coming. Despite voting out, and boring anyone who I came into contact with explaining why they should do the same, I am amazed the majority of the country stayed the course and voted that way. The remain camp did their best to scaremonger and took “Project Fear”, deployed so successfully during the Scottish referendum, to new highs but ultimately those voting out switched off the more absurd the threats became. One in particular “your family will be £38.42” worse off a week was my personal favourite.

Since waking up Friday morning and discovering the shock result there has been turmoil. The prime minister has resigned, the pound/markets crashed and then recovered a bit and crashed again. The members of the public who voted remain went to social media to vent their anger insulting everyone who voted leave. The far right wing took it upon themselves to stir up hatred and tell foreigners to go back home. There was a petition, protests and a push for a second referendum. Labour (the opposition party) had two thirds of their shadow cabinet resigned in attempt to oust their leader after his lack luster display during the campaign. The leader of the SNP is pushing again for Scottish independance as they desperately want to remain in the EU. Meanwhile the leaders of the leave campaign have effectively gone to ground whilst the leader of UKIP who were running their own campaign to leave has taken his MEP seat in Brussels and gloated about his success much to the dismay of all around him. The UK right now is effectively rudderless and is going through a period of uncertainty that .

The images below show both how my county Kent had voted and the rest of the UK. The result in total was 52% leave against 48% remain. Scotland, Northern Ireland and London had a much higher ratio for remain than the rest of the country where generally the opposite was true. Turnout for the referendum was high, higher than a general election, with most regions being way over 70%. What has also been noted is that generally the older you are the more likely you were to vote leave. The youth are currently an angry bunch, even more than usual.

CltZ-gAWYAANZemEU-vote-map

At the time of writing this the markets have returned to their normal levels and the waters are calming. As the graph below has shown the FTSE 100 is even higher whilst the other two indexes are pretty much back to where they were. So much for the world wide devastation that was predicted. The Pound is also slowly recovering ground that it had lost against the Dollar / Euro. All in all everyone in the financial sector is very happy with how things currently stand with the Bank of England on standby with a  huge emergency fund to pump into the economy if necessary. It’s now a case of steadying the ship as we negotiate our way out of the EU.

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Now that things are steady in terms of the economy the Conservatives are going through the motions of selecting a new leader and by the end of the year Article 50 will be invoked. After this we have two years to negotiate the best trade deal and exit package as possible otherwise we revert to WTO rules which include a number of tariffs. The biggest stumbling block that we face is that over the past few days all of the European leaders have stated that we can’t have free trade without the free movement of people. This was one of the biggest issues for people voting to leave so it’s going to be one hell of a task!

EU Referendum – Why I voted out

Introduction
There’s been sod all substance, and a hell of a lot of “project fear” nonsense, spouted from the remain and leave campaigns over the past few weeks both in the press and during the TV debates. Today is voting day and to be honest I’m glad it’s over as it’s been a dirty and spiteful process with lies and half truths from both sides. The public are left scratching around and digging for the actual facts.

Below are my considered opinions for leaving, minus the propaganda and scaremongering, but also acknowledging the difficulties that we may face post Brexit. It’ll be interesting for me to read back ten/twenty years later to reflect on what I thought would happen but actually what happen did come to fruition.

Immigration
Probably the most divisive topic in the debate and one which promotes spin/lies from the remain camp and from some parts of the leave in an attempt to evoke anger and hatred. I believe in order for government to provide adequate public services for health, schools, etc. you need to know how quickly a region will grow. With uncontrolled mass immigration into London and the South East these public services are being put under so much stress that they’re at breaking point. Remainers will claim that this is due to government cuts but that’s naive as where would the money come from exactly as the country is heavily in debt?

The majority of the people that want to leave the EU don’t want to stop immigration altogether they simply want to assess it year by year to see what the country needs and can manage, e.g. 50000 – 100000. Immigration over the years has given us the wonderful, varied multi-cultural society we live in today but at some point you have to take stock and do so in a sensible manner. What is wrong with limiting the numbers as Australia, Canada and others do with a points based system?

The NHS and other sectors where we don’t have enough people skilled in those professions will be green lighted so that people coming here with those qualifications can be granted working rights. The remain camp are currently saying that we won’t be able to control immigration if we leave the EU either as over half of the current high numbers, approx 330000, are from outside the EU. That’s quite simply ridiculous as it just means the government is doing a poor job and need to put a better system in place. It’s all computerised and at a simplistic level you only have to have a running counter for any given month, with some exceptions, and say after X amount have been processed “sorry, you’ll be first on the list next month”.

The other downside of mass immigration is that many of the migrants will be willing to take jobs at a minimum wage/zero hour contracts which is all very well but this does have the effect of driving down wages for our lowest income workers. Some immigrants may well only be here for a few years and willing to live in poor accommodation/getting by whilst saving as much as they can as it will be worth a lot more when sending back home. This isn’t very fair to a low income worker who’s wages are stagnating and they want to start a family and make a home for themselves. They cannot compete unless they in turn lower their quality of life. At the end of the day it’s big business that benefits from an increase in profits.

House prices and rents continue to increase and I believe this can be partly attributed to mass migration. The government is partly to blame of course for not doing more and offering incentives to house builders to build more homes. However, successive governments always seem reluctant to do so which leads to a shortage so we get demand out weighing supply. In truth with a net migration of 300,000 they are never going to be able to build enough homes that quickly and house building companies won’t take the risk.

Another argument that has been put forward is that we need a high level of immigration to support an ageing population and that as we’ve only built on about 3% of the country we have plenty of room. Firstly, isn’t this just causing a problem for the next generation as all of the people arriving will be old one day and they’ll be an even larger older generation. Won’t we have to keep on expanding and expanding forever which is unsustainable eventually. In the not too distant future it’s projected we’ll have a population of 80 million! Secondly, even though there’s a lot of space to develop on that’s not going to happen. People don’t arrive here to live in remote parts of the country they move to where the jobs are in already built up cities and towns leading to more congestion on the roads and drain onto public services. At the time of writing this latest figures show that the UK population has grown by more than half a million in one year. How is that sustainable?

The Economy
Can we really trust the opinion of the so call experts with their precise predictions on what the future may bring when none of them for sore the credit crunch or can seemingly predict what will happen next year? How many times have the forecasters got it wrong in recent times? I recall many business leaders and economists, including the CBI, stating that not joining the Euro would lead to a disastrous outcome. What a bullet we dodged there…

Additionally, how many of these “independent” economists are funded either by the government or EU? Business leaders of course want us to stay in as they’ve got their snouts in the troughs benefits from cheap labour and an effective monopoly as the EU keeps out the competition.

There are some who say the economy will crumble, no body will trade with us, etc. but if Iceland can strike a trade deal with China I’m sure we as the world’s fifth largest economy can do the same. Of course the remain camp say that there isn’t a plan, what model will we go for but until the decision is made to leave the EU and rest of the world aren’t going to talk about it.

As for the nobody trading with us even today German business leaders have said it would be unthinkable not to strike a deal as it would hurt their exports. That being said I’m not deluded into thinking there’s no risk. Of course there is but I believe it’s a educated risk and one worth taking based on all the benefits to leaving outside of the economy.

Sovereignty and Workers Rights
Whichever way the remain camp want to spin it we have ceded power to Brussels and more will follow in the coming years. For me our politicians should be solely in charge of the country and we shouldn’t have to be abiding to laws made in a foreign land by those that we never voted for and are unaccountable.

Folk will say that our government cannot be trusted and the benevolent EU is protecting our workers rights. Really? Then please research the EU/US TITP deal that’s currently being thrashed out by un-elected negotiators and see what they have in store for us. Our workers rights are about to take a nose dive and become more in line with the US along with the privatisation of the NHS. This isn’t scaremongering this is what is being proposed and on the table. Do we really believe our politicians will be brave enough to stand up against EU will to push this through?

On top of this many of the basic workers rights/etc. that are defined by the EU our government were at the forefront of adopting and have been taken even further than many other nations. The fact is that if the EU changes their minds and strips us of our rights we are powerless but with a nationally elected government you can vote them out and vote for another party that will re-instate them.

The EU the lawmakers, who are un-elected, would have to put these proposals to the national ministers who then would have just one vote and hope everyone else agrees with them. How is in our best interests, it’s just like the lottery adding another few balls into the machine and we’ve got even less chance of winning.

United States of Europe
After listening to many politicians and Eurocrats it’s obvious where the EU is heading. I’ve no doubt that within the next 30 years there will be a United State of Europe and the UK will simply be the equivalent of how New York is to the USA. By this stage we’ll be given some powers, similar to a local council, but ultimately they’ll be no real democracy. You’ll get a vote for your local MEP to give the allure of democracy and that you’re having a say. In reality we’ll end up like a member of the Green Party feels. You cast your vote, may even win a few seats, but nobody listens to them or cares what they have to say in the grand scheme of things.

Discussions are already under way, which have been kept low key until after the referendum, on the creation of a small EU army “task force”. This will of course grow and grow along with political integration. If there’s ever a cause we feel is worth fighting for around the world, or one that we don’t want to get involved in, we’ll have no say.

Before the U.S.O.E we’ll of course be forced to join the Euro or be punished and consigned to the sidelines forever more. This will lead to us being part of the bailout club to balance the books of the mess caused by others. Economic independence and the opportunity to take emergency action as we did in the credit crunch will be lost.

Those that say this will never happen and that we have our veto are deluding themselves in my opinion. If there’s enough political will from the other member states it will be forced through. They won’t let the pesky UK get in their way. By the time this all happens we’ll be even more intertwined with the EU it will be impossible to consider leaving. At the moment it’s like taking a plaster off but then it will be like amputating your legs.

Conclusion
At present we’re quite rightly giving more power and control to the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly and even discussing a north east regional hub to manage certain funds. The thinking is that the people in those countries and regions know best what works for them and how best the money is spent. I find it strange that we’re giving more control at a local level on the one hand but then giving more away on the other to those that won’t even directly be affected by the decisions that they make or accountable.

Personally I’m not concerned about leaving Europe or the scaremongering tactics employed by the remain camp and government. Only recently did David Cameron go to Brussels and when trying to negotiate a new deal stated that if he didn’t get what he wanted he’d support leaving the EU. He’s only changed his mind now as he has been scared into it by the EU powers that. Also, do we really believe a government would have given the country a referendum knowing that one of the outcomes would end life as we know it…

Today, I’ll be voting leave. Voting to control our borders, to grow the population at a sensible level, to regain powers given away to Brussels, to be in charge of our own destiny and to prevent being part of the inevitable United States of Europe.

Finally. Love Europe. Hate the EU.

Gemiini – S&L for Autism

Gemiini is a speech and language programme where the student watches a wide variety of videos a number of times in order that what is being said and the actions shown eventually sink in. The eventual hope is that they will copy the actions and repeat the words. It’s an old method of learning but with a modern twist and autistim in mind.

It’s been a few months now since we’ve started using Gemiini opting for the basic pre-defind programme designed for the progression of speech. Our six year old non verbal autistic son enjoys watching the videos and does take an interest in what’s being said and done by the actors. Sometimes the clips will include a musical interlude with a child playing with a toy, going on a boat, etc. which works really well and keeps the student engaged. Videos will consist of different subjects and topics in one session keeping it fresh along with the different focus from close ups of the mouth, pictures of the subject matter and clips of people performing the actions of what’s being said.

IMG_2129It works really well. Basic but clear. The aim is to work in three fifthteen minute sessions per day. This works well into our daily routine. The first session is with breakfast, the second when he gets home from school and the last after dinner. Each video is to be watched forty times before moving onto the next. As an adult this is painstaking but to be fair our son doesn’t seem to mind.

As to how effective it has been for me the jury’s out though. Whilst Jake has just started copying the actions on the latest two videos (pointing/waving/blinking) he could do all of these before. He had been making lots of noises and sounds before embarking on the Gemiini programme, and has been having lots of speech and language therapy, so the additional sounds he has made recently could or could not be related. I wouldn’t say any great strides have been made.

We’ll carry on using the programme as it works well into our routine and Jake seems to enjoy it. It’s educational if nothing else. I know it’s a bit unrealistic but I think unless he starts saying out loud suddenly the words being said in the video I’m going to be a bit sceptical as to it’s success. However, I’m also aware different therapies work for different people so I would recommend that if you have a child with speech and language difficulties then give this a go. It’s also not that expensive!