Disability History Month

Good evening 

Hope your all well
This Wednesday was the start of Disability History month which runs from the 18th November to the 18th December and is aimed to promote awareness and understanding of all disabilities Read about it here.https://ukdhm.org/The theme this year is Accessibility

My trust is doing a lot of exciting things for this month. I won’t go into to much detail on this blog as they are internal activities. However if you work for my trust and want to learn more you can find more information on the intranet. Also by searching for the below hashtags on the our Facebook page

#DisabilityHistoryMonth

#UKDHM

I will also be very active on both the work and my person social media this month.

Ok now I would like to speak about Accessibility for a moment. I am not an expert on this topic. I fully admit that. So I will be speaking from my own experience which relates to Autism and Hidden Disabilities. School was hard for me. As a child I did not learn to read till age 10 and a half. Which may surprise those who know me. I struggled to integrate and stay focused. My diagnosis took a long time as well without going into details. My school was very good. They really brought me out of my shell. I owe them a lot for giving me a safe space and helping me grow. I think however I failed to realise how harsh the outside world could be. The reason I told you about school was because I learned the hard way that others can be harsh and judgemental. As I got older it became apparent that people make many assumptions. The trouble is that if you don’t behave how people perceive you should be to be “Normal” they can be dismissive.  Paradoxically if you integrate well it can also be hard to get through to others. It’s all to common for people to say “You don’t look autistic” or to be told then make assumptions about your level of understanding. This makes me so angry. So they either assume your “ok” are they invent their own person and project them that on you. Ok I will mention a few specifics here as I realise this is a bit vague.Public transport was hard for me when I first started using it. The noise the loud people. Knowing what stop to get off at. It’s not so bad now. I’m fine when I know the route. When being the key word.I find travelling to new places really hard even now. I can do it. But I cannot just hop on the bus and relax. I have to triple check the route. I have to know when to get off.I took a train earlier this year to get to the National Autism conference (just before covid) it was exceptionally hard to get someone to actually explain where to go and not just point vaguely.  People assume things is what I’m saying. They assume knowledge. The trouble is knowing your rights. Often people don’t even think to ask for extra support or know it’s available. It’s astounding how many people with hidden disabilities don’t wish to disclose or ask for support. I think many people are afraid of being judged by others pre conceived ideas. I get that it’s happened to me. Remember what I said about people treating you differently? I still remember vividly someone at a careers event who began talking to me like I was 10 as soon as I said I had autism. Basically acted like I wouldn’t know what a job was. In retrospect wish I’d done something there but I was unemployed and less confident than. It’s sad how many people have such fixed ideas. It’s still worth disclosing a disability though. Yes there are loads of bigots but there are lots of supportive organisations too.I’m not just talking about work here. I mean school, college, services. There are many services which are lacking. From my own experience learning to drive is one. It’s very hard not impossible but hard to find a instructor who can be adaptable to everyone’s needs.

Also public transport as mentioned before is hard at times. I had a gold card for years which is a disabled pass. I was only asked a handful of times if I needed any help. I didn’t except for as I say going to new places but it’s nice to be asked. As I said I had to ask a few times to get help at that train station. So I would fully encourage you to take any support your offered. If it doesn’t work for you or you find you don’t need it just explain that.  Just don’t be afraid to enquire I realise this post has been a bit all other the place but if you do have a learning disability or a hidden disability Mencap has some great tips on how to know your rights https://www.mencap.org.uk/about-us


Ok. Elephant in room.I know this post did not cover all areas of accessibility and focuses primarily on Autism and Hidden Disabilities. I chose to focus these areas deliberately. I do believe things have improved since I was young in terms of education and care but I’m not a healthcare or social worker and felt I could not do justice to some of the other areas.  So it seemed more appropriate to stick to what I knew. Just wanted to explain that 
I would like to encourage you all though. We all have life’s we all have our views.Please I ask you whether you have any form of disability or not to get involved this month. If you do have a Disability what is it? What does it affect in your life that other don’t think about? What is the most common misconception?
Do you work with people with Disabilities?What changes have you seen?What needs to be changed?Please share your stories.Remember the hashtag too Ok good night. Thank you all for reading 

#DisabilityHistoryMonth

#UKDHM

Using Social Media Responsibly

Good evening I hope your all well.   Sorry for posting a day late. Yesterday got away from me a bit. Even though I did nothing? One of life’s mysteries how that happens.


Due to lockdown social media platforms are big now. Everything’s online. Classes. Work meeting. Choirs. Loads of my poetry events have moved to zoom. It’s good that people are still able to feel connected. I’ve posted before about my love hate relationship with social media https://punton9.wordpress.com/2019/02/10/my-issues-with-instant-communication/
https://punton9.wordpress.com/2019/07/15/put-that-phone-down/
I’m not a technophobe. Well not totally. I love my phone. I admit it. I love watching you tube. Playing a game on Facebook. Anyone else addicted to battleships? It’s great as well for plugging this blog. Speaking of which 👋  So yes social media can be great. It makes keeping in touch with friends and family easier. It’s great for finding information. There are so many creative writing events, that I’d never have heard of without it. The trouble is it’s a two edged sword. Yes sites like Facebook are great for keeping in touch but, trouble is with who and how? Be honest. How many of you have met someone at a workshop, night out or at a activity added them on Facebook. You mean to get in touch but you live in different areas, your busy etc. Two years later you get a notification. Who is this?Also you get to much info. It’s impossible to keep track. How do you prioritise all those notifications. Tweets, Facebook messages tags. It used, I have to admit really stress me. Part of my Aspergers is that I feel guilty for ignoring people. When I first started using social media. I worried that if I didn’t reply to comments or tweets or whatever people would think I didn’t care. I had to learn what most people have naturally. The ability to prioritise it. It took a shoot but I learned to give things a more cursory read. Often it would be a post I’d commented on but was no longer part of the discussion. Or just a friend posting a daft joke. It’s like anything else you just need to trust your own judgment. Is this that important? Really think it gets easier with practice.I don’t know for certain if this is a me issue only but I am sure I can’t be the only one on the spectrum who had trouble with this.
I have a couple of tips that I use
1: know what you use social media for. I use it for running, creative writing networking.  Among a few other things. You don’t need to have your whole life on there. Which brings me to point 2
2: Don’t use it as your social life. I know social media is a great way of staying in touch. Many friends do connect. However don’t expect to much from it. I was initially obsessed with Facebook likes having a high friend list. I know it can be easier to talk online. Some sites like twitter and Reddit are great as can they offer anomyinity. Many people feel they can be more themselves online. This can be good as long as your careful. Leading to point 3
3: Be careful. This is a long one.As I said many sites allow you a degree of anonymity. This can create a lot of false confidence. I myself once years ago got into a rather silly argument with someone on a site where only username were required. It was ridiculous and stressed me out. False confidence online goes both ways there are a lot of unpleasant people out there. So make sure your careful what you say. Be very careful taking to anyone you don’t know. This is even more important on sites where your name is shown like Facebook. You don’t even have to be friends with the person, often anyone can see your posts. This may not seem like a big deal but if you say something silly or that you don’t mean. Well it’s out there. Even deleting it a day later won’t stop loads of people seeing it. So bluntly,make sure you don’t say anything you wouldn’t be comfortable with the whole world seeing. 
4: This last tip is easy. Turn it off. Admittedly this is only a short term solution. It does help though. I have very limited notifications for social media on my phone. If I want to see my notifications. I go onto the site. I’m saved a constant barrage of pings and phone vibrations. I honestly don’t know how that doesn’t drive most people mad. Taking breaks helps. Keeps you from losing track of the real world 

A few anecdotes

Good evening Before getting into tonight’s post I’d like to be serous. Today as you all know was Remembrance Sunday. I watched some of the ceremonies on the news today. It must have been so hard for all the people who could not pay their respects as they normally would. I’d just like to thank all those who’ve given their life serving this country and all who’ve served. Sometimes we need to be reminded the world is bigger than ourselves. Thank you for your service.


Ok onto the main post. I thought today I would talk about something fun. Why you may ask ? Well we’ve just entered a second lockdown here in the UK and in the US a man called Donald is angry that he didn’t get his own way. So I’m going take some time to I have a few anecdotes. These are times when I was a little bit of jerk. Well not really on purpose but I certainly can certainly see now what I did wrong. Hindsight is a cruel thing.


1: But you say it: When I was younger. My sister would use the common slang term man when annoyed with me. Like if I made a mess it would be “Ross man be careful” Once I decided I’d do likewise she annoyed me in some minor way by changing the channel I was watching “Lisa woman I was watching that” I saidShe turned and explained you can’t call a girl or lady “woman” as it sounded rude.I said “but you call me Ross man. Why can’t I call you Lisa woman?” I was so annoyed by what I perceived as hypocrisy.  My kid brain admittedly didn’t think the word hypocrisy but it was the gist. My poor sister


2: Exact words: I remember once my dad asked me not to wake him super early. He meant stay in bed. I interpreted as get up on my own at half six turn on telly and make a mess when I got breakfast. (Actually come to think of it I still make a mess)


3:What time is it?: Years ago when I was about 17, I went to the library one day. It was 18:57 remember that. I approached the counter with a big pile of books.Me: I’d like to check these outStaff: I’m sorry we can’t Me: I have a ticketStaff: The computers are off Me: Can’t you put them on again?Staff: No we shut at 7pmMe: It’s only 6:58Other staff member: You should have been on timeMe: (getting stressed) I still have two whole minutes!!!The look they gave me then. Utterly baffled.Basically I left mumbling about how unfair it was when I still had two minutes. Funny it was really stressed me at the time but feels funny now. It’s so funny how indignant and hard done by I felt. I suppose learning to prioritise and be considerate is part of maturing.


4:Why are you waving:I haven’t been the best in the past at picking up cues.I remember clearly once years when I first started work I was talking to a colleague and someone who I later learned was senior came in. I was just chatting away about something non work related but was still working. My colleague started waving their hand. I said “Are you ok” they told me there was a visitor I said hello to the visitor and started talking again. They again waved and pointed. I was confused. Later they said to me they didn’t want me to have my conversation in front of that person. I said “Why it wasn’t a rude conversation” then after a pause “Why didn’t you just say so instead of waving your hands” Their faces.I get it now in case you were wondering.


I hope you enjoyed these short tales. They’re all very true so red face here. Serious note here. These stories all have one thing in common, me not reading between the lines or reading cues. It so easy for most people but it took years for me. God I still remember when someone asked me for five minutes and I came back in six annoyed they weren’t done!!! Why are you annoyed it’s a minute extra!!! (Yes another true story)           I used to take words so literally it felt at times like the rest of the world was in the wrong. After all I followed the instructions how was I supposed to know  about the unsaid rule? Also who told everyone else? Did I miss the class? If your on the spectrum you’ve probably made a misstep at least once. No easy fix but I will say it gets easier. We all learn and in time you will start to recognise stuff more. Also don’t get annoyed I did in a couple of the above tales and it did no good. Remember people aren’t mind readers. Just try to be patient.I know easier said than done.Letting people know your on the spectrum can help though schools and workplaces are increasingly more supportive. So be bold
Ok that’s it for tonight.Stay safe 

A conversation with myself

Hi good evening. Sorry in advance normally I try to post things that I hope everyone can relate too.This I’m aware is a very all about me post.Still it’s my blog so…..
I’ve just finished a week off. I had a pretty good week actually. Managed to see a couple of people whilst still sticking to social distancing rules. Did a run each day as part of a personal challenge. I swear if I didn’t need money I’d do one every day. Also just vegged a bit so yeah on the whole a good week. There was only one thing I did that I regretted. My manager send me a email to my personal inbox asking about some training courses I might like. I said thanks then asked casually if some emails I’d set up to send automatically had sent. I was told they hadn’t but could wait till Monday. I felt annoyed as I had clearly told the email to send them automatically at a set day.I took out my work laptop logged on a checked my outbox. I then saw a few emails come up and started thinking “that a lot. Oh no. I’m working from home my laptop is so slow it’s to much….” I do this it’s part of my Aspergers I can’t leave things. I worry.Luckily that day another part of my brain kicked in. “Ross it’s Thursday you are off work till Monday. What is the worst thing that can happen. Your team is nice. Even if you do have a few emails it’s not a huge deal.” The weak me feebly held on “Some of these look complicated” My stronger self “It doesn’t matter. Relax.” So I did I had stuff to do. I was doing a fun run that night for Halloween plus I was doing some housework before getting the laptop out. No real point or moral to this post but I was proud of myself. I nearly got worked up but I stopped myself. That’s my achievement for the week 😂

Ok night folks 

Walk with dignity

Evening hope your all wellI’m feeling quite relaxed have the next week off and whilst I cannot do exactly what I originally planned still plan to have a nice week.This is going to be a really short post.Just wanted to share a short story from this week.I have lost a bit of weight this year almost two stone.

While I still have a way to go I am feeling slimmer. I’ve had quite a few people say my running has improved so obviously this makes me feel good. I’ve posted before about my issues with impulse eating. While I won’t claim to be completely reformed in terms of my attitude to food, I do feel on the whole better. This Friday I wore a hoody and a large coat for work. So I was wearing a few layers.I decided to get the metro home as I missed my bus. There were two lads blocking one side of the steps at Jarrow. Basically you had to walk really close to them to get to the platform they weren’t getting a train just sitting there. As I walked by one of them said “You like cheesecake?” I know this was probably said to everyone. I know I was wearing layers. I know I’ve lost weight. It stung anyway. The thing about autism and Aspergers you can’t always shut out negative comments. I didn’t say anything. I probably looked like I didn’t care. It annoys me that I did care it what idiots like that want. It didn’t end there after getting off my metro I saw a crowd at the traffic lights on both sides of the road. I waited off to one side whilst they crossed and was accused rather vocally of being weird by a man. I explained I was keeping two meters (which their group wasn’t) and was laughed at. He pointed out that I was about six feet tall. Not sure what his point was here. That I shouldn’t be scared? It’s a virus that makes no sense. Or that I looked threatening even though I was literally standing still bothering no one. I returned home mad as hell. I wish stuff like this didn’t bother me. I know they’re wrong not me. Their judgment means nothing. Why should it bother me.I would love to be unfazed sadly my emotions have a will of their own.Their is a plus though. I went home had a cup of coffee thought about it and found it funny. A few years ago I would have stewed for ages on it. There was a time I would have made it worse tried to confront them make them see my point of view. I was able to walk away from both encounters with dignity.

So if this post has a point it’s be yourself don’t let others stupidity ruin your day. It gets easier just keep going in the direction you want. At the end of the day those who mock you only do so to make themselves feel big. So if you fail to respond they lose. Be yourself. That’s it from me now good night.

Don’t ignore your emotions you can’t outrun them

Good morning 
Another late post. I know this blog doesn’t have a deadline but maybe it’s time I faced facts. I’m not good for sticking to any type of deadline on a Sunday. As it’s now Tuesday and I’m on a ferry to work….
Well better late than never me not public transport
So today’s post is simple. 
You may remember I talked about change the other day in my last post. Well recently I got really annoyed at something minor. I fretted over it for ages.
I even began thinking of things to do about it. It was only after a second look I realised it was a minor problem. The reason I was so stressed? I had something else on my mind and was trying to ignore it. Soon as I realised that I felt better. The thing I was ignoring wasn’t so bad. Sometimes it’s easy to tell ourselves oh we have stuff to do it’s not that important. The irony is trying to ignore things to minimise stress causes more worry and impacts on your day. So I’m posting this as a warning to you and to future me who will doubtless forget this lesson at some point.Don’t ignore your emotions it may seem easier but they’ll creep up and affect your day, your mood and ultimately will effect how you to interact others. Let’s face it when your having an off day some times you lack perspective. So try and deal with your negative feelings and worries . I know that is easier said than done but at least acknowledge them. Don’t try to pretend they don’t bother you. They will spill out.

Ok thanks for listening have a good day 

How I process change…

Hi good evening 

Sorry for not updating last Sunday but I have had a few private personal things going on that meant I was not in the mood to write. I actually did try Sunday but it wasn’t coming out well. I will apologise in advance that I’m leaving some details of this post vague on purpose for privacy reasons.


Recently I’ve been thinking about change and how I process it. There has been something that was brought up to me that would be beneficial. Yet I hesitated as it required me to do new things and change my routine. I won’t say what it was but it got me thinking. Every person on the spectrum is different I would like to emphasise that this is how I process this feeling. Others will find it harder than me to change or alter routines. I’m not suggesting otherwise the below text  is my thought process however. So no offence intended to anyone who may not agree. We all have different experiences.
I wrote a post recently where I got really upset at school as they decided I know longer needed an escort in the taxi without asking me. Cried in fact.        However when I was young and my parents split up I was told I would still see them but that they would not live together. My response was a cheery “Ok” I know that sounds cold but I didn’t mean it like that. I didn’t even comprehend relationships really were or what separation meant for a couple. I loved Mam and Dad and knew I’d still see them. I suppose I associated mam with evenings dad with weekends. Though in retrospect I’m sure that was not fair!!! Basically though I was fine as it as far as I could see wouldn’t affect my routine of school, playing in evening, doing stuff with dad or mam on weekends. It seemed simple to me. You may argue quite rightly that things had changed immensely and it would affect my life. A lot. It did of course but at the time I was told and in my head it didn’t feel any different. Even though it was. Yet I freaked out at school about things most people would consider minor inconveniences.
 It been a same the lot of my life. The above is an extreme example of course. It still happens though I can take some things really well but get annoyed over others. Example I hate it when websites I use change their layout even if it’s helpful. Big example iBook I hated their new navigation system at first. Work changed their online systems background colour from red to blue about 9 years ago. It really annoyed me at first. I mentioned it once recently no one else remembered the change. Why would they it was nothing. I even wonder now why I cared. I got used to all these things (expect iBook their layout really is terrible now 😉) but it’s more astounding what doesn’t bother me. Reading a poem on open mic? Can do it with easeSpam email? I can spot a fake miles off and  bin appropriatelyRude people? I won’t lie can be a trigger at times depending on the situation but more often than not I just roll my eyes. Meeting someone new? I love people  But if you….. Explode my phone with texts I freak as I can’t answer so many and your interrupting my me time. If you suggest I change my route to work I worry for ages about the time and how long it will take. So basically I stress about change if it’s something I can see affecting my routine. If not I feel ok. I know this sounds selfish but it’s not a conscious decision. It’s reflex.I can deal with these things however.I said this was my personal experience not what everyone on the spectrum experiences. I know many would struggle to make the sam adaptations. So I’m luckyI can change my routines, I just have to think about the benefits. Let the feeling of stress pass and in time they become less frequent.The trick is that if you do it long enough your brain becomes used to itLike when I did sit ups every morning during lockdown it was hard at first but then became just something I did. Side note I will start again with the sit-ups eventually…So this decision I mentioned it would mean a change in my routine what was holding me back was fear and comfort. It easy to stay in a routine that feels safe. There’s nothing wrong with routines to some degree we all have habits rituals but we should control them not them us. Which is why I will try new things. It’s worth the stress sometimes.
Right this ended up being longer than I intended if you read this far we’ll done.I’m off to bed

A conversation

Good evening.

Have you ever been talked down to? Many people on the spectrum process things differently. Take a different approach to others. Sadly some people are off the mindset that we all have to think in the same way. Not seeing things their way means we are being difficult according to them. It’s hard to deal with such people but I’d like to share a story with you all.
I got a phishing email today. Allegedly from PayPal. A quick google search quickly allowed me to double check and confirm what I already knew. It was fakeIt reminded me of something that happened a few years ago. 
I got an email similar to the one today claiming there had been weird activity on my account. I didn’t follow the link  in the email as I was suspicious of it. Instead I logged into my account and checked myself I could see nothing. Now most people would have thought case closed. My brain wouldn’t let me though. I kept thinking what if it’s hidden somehow?So I phoned PayPal. Just to be sure.I explained the email I had been sent and that I was sure it was probably fake but wanted to be sure as it had came into my main inbox rather than spam.I got the most condescending lecture how it “Was obviously fake.” and “You should never respond to fake emails” This felt so insulting.I had gotten stressed by that email. Stuff like that can really trigger me. The uncertainty, the pressure to deal with it. I hate phoning companies too. Waiting trying to get my thoughts in order. I did it though, I called them I  explained myself clearly and politely.  Only to be talked to like a stupid child. I responded uncharacteristically annoyed that I was well aware it was probably fake. That I had not responded to the email and was merely calling to enquire about it. The call then ended. The whole thing just made me angry. It didn’t occur to me till later that I actually stood up for myself. She was being condescending and I said my bit. No one should talk to someone like that.
So the point of this story is that we all at times will meet ignorant people. People who don’t treat us how we want or deserve. You need realise you have rights you don’t have to take it. Be kind to yourself. Stand up for yourself speak up. I know that sounds easier said than done but think of your family your friends the people who matter. Don’t let some random ignorant person make you less than you deserve.


Right I realise this was a bit of a serious post just needed to let of some steam. Good night.

Why I give spoilers

Good evening

 Hope your all well. I’m ok had a relatively quiet week. I hate the title of this post but literally cannot think of a better description. Ok just gonna get straight into it. When I was a kid I was always trying to tell people about things I liked. Books tv shows etc. I wanted them to understand why I liked them and share my enthusiasm. This led to a lot of conversations that weren’t really well conversations!!! Now I have a confession. Unlike many of my traits I haven’t outgrown this. I lent my dad a book recently as it was a genre we both enjoyed. I found it very hard not to reveal the plot to him. It happens to me all the time I recommend a film or series to someone and have to consciously remind myself not to give away everything. It’s a by product of having an over active imagination I suppose. Fiction always been a way of escape for me.

When your a kid and nervous what could be better Having an adventure second hand but risk free. It gets me even now out of my own head as well. Sometimes I read a book and it’s like I am the character. Take confrontation, I often read books with sarcastic narrators. The character can say things I would love to say but never dare. I’ve encountered my share of rude people and rude love to say what I think of them but my brain won’t let me most of the time. Which admittedly is probably a good thing. It’s more than that though stories can take you anywhere. Another country, another life.So naturally when I find something I really like. All I want is to share.The trouble is it’s not always appropriate.Or for that matter something people are interested in. I try not to do it.I’m aware it awkward for people. It must be annoying. So why do I do it? It sounds daft but sometimes I literally cannot stop myself. I don’t realise I’m doing it at times but can’t seem to stop once I get going.The other day I began telling my mam about a film I’d seen. “I’m thinking of ending things” It’s an interesting film premise but badly executed. I began to describe it. Mam politely said she wasn’t going to watch it. I still finished my statement though. Why? I felt I needed to finish. It’s a little thing but this is still one way my Aspergers shows up from time to time.Well that it from me good nightP.S: Yes I was tempted to go into why the film I mentioned doesn’t work. That would be a whole post on its own however.

Sea Change South Shields a wonderful resource for those on the Spectrum

Good evening. 

This will be a short post. Hope your all doing well. I’m ok. Had a quiet week. 

Ok to get straight into it. Recently I went to a lovely cafe in my town . Sea Change on Ocean Road South Shields.

://sea-change.co/

It’s a charming place. It’s clean and looks modern with nicely painted walls and artwork local artists. The food is all made from scratch and is delicious. Also it’s menu is completely vegetarian. Whilst not vegetarian myself some of my family are. I know it can be hard to find places that give vegetarians and vegans a wider choice of things they can eat. So I love them for that.The best thing about Sea of Change? It’s ran by Autism Able a charity that aims to educate adults on the spectrum and help them gain work skills.I’ve been there twice the staff were just brilliant. I can tell that they’re being given a great deal of support. Some of the art on display was I believe by the staff to.I remember seeing one of the staff being given some very positive verbal  encouragement about being confident and what to say when they took our order. The whole place just gave me a lot of hope.
I wish it had been there a few years ago.I remember when I was looking for work. It was so hard to get given my first opportunity. Most employers want confidence. They want you to think and react a certain way. Even if the person interviewing you likes you they might still think that. It wasn’t easy to know what to say. I was always second guessing what to say what to do. It was frustrating like I had to try and be more confident than I felt.Don’t get me wrong I met some really nice people who helped me with my job search. I don’t think they or I really knew where exactly I would fit though. 
I would have loved Sea of Change if it had existed then.It’s a wonderful business and is a wonderful place for those on the spectrum. I fully recommend if your ever in South Shields you check it out.