Disability, Caring and Rights
I readthis article earlier and it and the response to it on twitter has greatly disturbed me.*Content warning for the article- parent literally calling her disabled adult daughter "damaged goods" and discussion of adult woman's personal care needs.*I am saddened and angry at how this story has been framed. There are multiple human rights abuses described in the article. The article itself adds a new breach of Siobhan's rights- the right to privacy by discussing her intimate personal care needs in public. I am frankly disgusted by how her mother describes her:“Sorry. I’m going to be very straight about...
Source: The Voyage - November 19, 2016 Category: Child Development Source Type: blogs

Thoughts on A World Without Down ’s Syndrome?
We watched the documentary prenatal screening and the reduction in people being born with Down Syndrome presented by Sally Phillips.It's on BBC iplayerhere and below is a short clip.The best article on this that I have read is byFrancis Ryan in the Guardian.I have however some points that I want to make about the programme. I tweeted these this morning and am bringing those thoughts together now.First principle is that individual women must have full bodily autonomy. Nothing in #worldwithoutdowns negates the need to legalise safe, free abortion in Ireland/elsewhere. It is still essential that Irish people #repealthe8t...
Source: The Voyage - October 6, 2016 Category: Child Development Source Type: blogs

Why She Left
A couple of years ago I wrote a post explaining why someone like Nigella Lawson, smart, beautiful and successful, might stay with a man who is abusive.Today, based on that list, I will share some of the reasons why someone might opt to end a relationship with an abuser:She's concerned about the impact living in such a poisonous environment is having on her children.She's seen her children fall victim to some of the tactics used on her.She knows now what this is- she's had support from people and professionals who've helped her to identify the mind games and manipulation. She has the support of those who have known and car...
Source: The Voyage - February 21, 2016 Category: Child Development Tags: abuse DV family Source Type: blogs

Troubled by Autism Training
I attended a relationships and sexuality education (RSE) training day hosted by Unison in Belfast and provided by Middletown Centre for Autism. It was free to attend as the Centre is fully funded by the education departments of Northern Ireland and the Republic. Most of those attending today were teachers though parents accounted for a large portion of delegates also. As usual at these types of events, the trainer proceeded as though the idea that any of the delegates might themselves be autistic was utterly unthinkable.I have researched RSE and autism in detail for both my post graduate course and to equip my autistic son...
Source: The Voyage - November 9, 2015 Category: Child Development Source Type: blogs

A Post to Guardian Dad For Autistic Kid
Content warning- disablism.Yesterday the Guardian published a letter from a man to his autistic son entitled, A letter to … my son, who has autism, for whom I’ll always do my best. Read this at your peril as it is truly vile.With just a few deviations, this letter follows the tried and tested Assembly Manual for Autism Articles TM  which I created in 2008.Guardian Dad starts off describing Autistic Kid's arrival into the world, how he felt "total, unconditional love" and envisaged watching Autistic Kid "grow up, go to university, find love, then maybe settle down and have his...
Source: The Voyage - May 17, 2015 Category: Child Development Tags: autism in the media disablism Source Type: blogs

Masters Assignment on Autistic Writers
In 2013 I submitted as assignment on autistic people's writings as part of my Masters in Autism (Adults) for the University of Birmingham. The title of the topic as set by the university and my essay follows: There is an ever-increasing body of literature from people diagnosed with autism who are willing to share their experiences. Discuss and evaluate the potential impact of this body of literature upon other people on the autistic spectrum, upon autism researchers and upon providers of support and services.This essay will describe the growing body of writing by autistic writers, particularly that which has flourishe...
Source: The Voyage - April 21, 2015 Category: Child Development Source Type: blogs

Yes to Marriage Equality
I've just written about our wedding on April 9 and described what a beautiful and perfect day it was. I had married before, 19 years ago. It was an unhappy marriage that I tried for many years to fix before coming to accept, with the support of many people around me and the help of Women's Aid, that staying married would destroy my life and likely those of my children. The separation happened four years ago and the horrendous task of divorcing took a few years more.I am forever grateful to the people who helped the children and me through that time. I am indebted to all those who over the years, campaigned to change t...
Source: The Voyage - April 18, 2015 Category: Child Development Source Type: blogs

Our Wedding
Thursday April 9th was the best and happiest day of my life so far. My three children, our closest friends and beloved family members gathered with me and the man I love, to witness our marriage. We had the ceremony in Belfast City Hall with a registrar who did everything she could to make it special and personal while also accommodating Ryan's needs. We and the children walked in together and Ryan read out his own words:"I am happy today because my mum and Micheál are getting married. That is great and loving and wonderful.Micheál is my friend. He is funny and sometimes silly. We go to Tesco and he...
Source: The Voyage - April 18, 2015 Category: Child Development Source Type: blogs

Never Say Never
In Saturday's Guardian was an short piece called "What I'm really thinking: the grandmother of an autistic child" in which a woman describes an outing with her 7 year old grandson Jimmy. Obviously we need to have some insight into the difficulties this causes her because that's the standard narrative for any and all articles on autism which centre on a family member and not autistic people themselves. So Grandma describes how "the red-faced Jimmy who is almost out of control" is "screaming and lunging violently at the locked doors" of some public toilets. Later when Jimmy has settled Grandma d...
Source: The Voyage - March 3, 2015 Category: Child Development Tags: autism autism books Source Type: blogs

Assembly Manual for Autism Articles
I haven't seen one of these for a while- a newspaper article on a parent's view of autism that adheres rigorously to the the template I wrote in 2008. Today offering is titled Autism and ABA: 'My beautiful, fun little boy was slipping away from me'. In this we learn how wealthy, beautiful and accomplished Tanja Gullestrup uses tough-love therapy to "stop her losing [her three year old son] to this isolating condition".So here's Step 1-4 of the Autism Article TM Template (Step 5 is optional and refers to vaccination-bashing autism articles) :1: Baby is born2: Everyone rejoices3: Baby grows4: Mum realises baby...
Source: The Voyage - March 1, 2015 Category: Child Development Tags: aba autism autism in the media Source Type: blogs

"Autism-Sucks" Parents Dominating Jerry Seinfeld Autism Analysis
Before reading this post read  Paula C. Durbin-Westby's recent blog post on media framing of autism stories and the real harm this is causing to autistic people. Jerry Seinfeld by David Shankbone via Wikipedia And once again, the parent of an autistic person is given space in a newspaper or magazine to spout off about how awful their lives are, what "real" autism is like and crucially, how dare Jerry Seinfeld claim he has anything in common with their lost and damaged offspring.First out of the blocks on November 10 it was teacher of creative writing, Marie Myung-Ok Lee in Salon telling u...
Source: The Voyage - November 17, 2014 Category: Child Development Source Type: blogs

What kind of people commit violent crimes?
Last week two of the most beloved and significant people in my life were victims of a violent crime. Their home was violated. It was a vicious physical and verbal attack. I shake with anger when I think of what two grown men did that night to people who are only ever kind, helpful, supportive and loving to their family and neighbours. It shakes you to the core when something like this invades your family. I want to do the impossible; turn back time and stop it from ever having happened. The people I love will recover from the physical assault. It will take longer for the psychological damage to repair. They have their fami...
Source: The Voyage - May 28, 2014 Category: Autism Tags: autism in the media crime Source Type: blogs

Post for #BADD: Stop Excusing Murder
Trigger warning for discussion of child murder. Please call your emergency services or local crisis support number if you need immediate and urgent help.Samaritans UK 08457 909090Samaritans Ireland 116 123This is a post for Blogging Against Disablism Day 2014.Disablism means discriminating against people due to their disability. It's unjust and unfair. Disablist attitudes abound in our society and worsened in the past few years as a result of robust campaigning by certain political parties and media outlets depicting disabled people as lazy, scrounging cheats.Disabled lives are accorded less value than the lives ...
Source: The Voyage - May 2, 2014 Category: Autism Tags: disability disablism Source Type: blogs

Ryan Movie Maker
I asked Ryan if I could write a blog post about him and as long as he didn't have to write anything himself he was happy enough. So I'm going to try to tell you about my boy and think the best way is to share some of his creations.He has always loved films and PC games and has been fascinated by all the different characters. He has learnt so much from wanting to find out more about his favourite characters from Disney films, Thomas the Tank Engine and even Kinder egg toys. He learned to type, read and write because he wanted to be able to Google their names, he learned colours and numbers from Thomas and his Friends. In th...
Source: The Voyage - April 29, 2014 Category: Autism Tags: art autism family films Source Type: blogs

Action not Awareness for Autism
It's World Autism Awareness Day and autism is all over the papers and radio. Some of the stories are great such as this by Fiona O'Leary, an Irish self-advocate explaining why she opposes the Light it Up Blue campaign and seeking an end to negative rhetoric:"Any research that will bring positive benefits to people on the autistic spectrum is welcome. However, the propaganda used by Autism Speaks is instilling fear and hatred about a condition that is struggling to find acceptance in society."Some stories attempt to tug at the heartstrings such as the story of a 9 year old girl who wrote in school about her deares...
Source: The Voyage - April 2, 2014 Category: Autism Tags: autism autism in the media awareness WAAD Source Type: blogs

Please Don't Light up Blue for Autism
You mean well. I know you hope that by persuading your local council to bathe your town or city's most significant building or monument in blue light, that you are doing a good thing. You have bought into the notion that increasing "awareness of autism" will help your autistic children. But do you know where the notion of "light it up blue" originated? Are you aware how people who are themselves autistic feel about this particular campaign? April 2nd has been marked as World Autism Awareness Day since the late 80's and in 2007 it was adopted by the United Nations. Light it up blue came along later; in 2...
Source: The Voyage - March 28, 2014 Category: Autism Tags: activism autism disablism Source Type: blogs

Autism Biomed Bullshit Booming in Ireland
This article follows the tried and tested Autism ArticleTM template as described below.Don't stray from the template- sure who wants to know about the reality of life with autism!It really astonishes me just how closely Adrienne Murphy sticks to the template I wrote in 2008!But it's 2014 and we should not have to keep having these discussions. I'm tired of dismantling specious claims by unscrupulous hacks. Autism is nothing like that described by Murphy in the Irish Times. Autism is a genetically-based human neurological variant and NOT "the result of a complex intermeshing of degenerative diseases and comorbidities, ...
Source: The Voyage - March 24, 2014 Category: Autism Tags: autism autism in the media health quackery Source Type: blogs

Is This Autism?
[Warning-  in this post, written in support of the This is Autism flash blog, I've quoted some of the dehumanising language used by Suzanne Wright.]I don't get to say what autism is. I'm not autistic though my thirteen year old son is. In learning how to parent him, I've met other autistic people, read their words and I've listened. I'm qualified to say what my son is like, how his awesomeness and autism intersect. I'm also authorised to say that the wretched "Call for action" edict by Suzanne Wright, co-founder of enormously wealthy and powerful, USA organisation Autism Speaks, is r...
Source: The Voyage - November 18, 2013 Category: Autism Tags: disablism Source Type: blogs

This is My Child
This Is My Child is an awareness-raising campaign run by Mumsnet. This is my millennium baby. He didn't develop along quite the same path as his older sister and most of his peers and was diagnosed with autism when he was two years old. Ryan aged 2 As a toddler he didn't speak but he communicated in other ways. Over time and with lots of help and teaching optimised to his way of learning he learnt to communicate more effectively. Ryan aged 4 in a play centre- he was speaking in 2 to 3 word sentences then. Over the years, just about every single time we have been out and about together, people have taken a second...
Source: The Voyage - August 20, 2013 Category: Autism Source Type: blogs

Double Helix Water Autism Quackery
There's a new quackery promoter in town and he sent me the following email a few days ago. My thoughts are in red: "Dear Sharon,  I have just been reading your blog I don't think so and wanted to introduce you to a new approach to working with Autism. Rather than send you a long email. Don't leave me hanging, rather than send a long email you'll...? I just wanted to say that I am new to the Autism community here in the UK allow me to represent the autism community in the UK and Ireland and say hello and welcome as I am working to try and connect with parents of Autistic children but not autist...
Source: The Voyage - June 27, 2013 Category: Autism Tags: Double Helix quackery water autism Source Type: blogs

Why She Stayed
I posted on Facebook about the photos of Nigella Lawson having her neck squeezed by Charles Saatchi and called him a typical abusive creep for making a statement minimising his behaviour by describing it as merely a "playful tiff". One of my friends said "I just cannot understand why such a smart, beautiful and independently successful woman would have stayed with him throughout torment like this!" I thought about this and decided to respond here instead of on Facebook. I don't know why she stayed, only she can answer. But I would be very surprised if at least some of the reasons I shall list don't app...
Source: The Voyage - June 18, 2013 Category: Autism Source Type: blogs