Original Post from Community Care

‘A feature sponsored by UNISON


New research by Community Care shows that almost 80% of social workers are thinking of leaving their jobs because of stress. UNISON has growing concerns that one of the contributors to this stress is the pressure surrounding social work in the courts.

Earlier this year, new guidance for the family courts and the court of protection in England and Wales said that judgments will usually be published and expert witnesses named, unless there are compelling reasons not to do so. The aim is to promote transparency and public understanding of the work of the courts.

However, our experience of supporting members named in recent cases has shown the danger of selective media coverage of complex court proceedings. This can cause a backlash against the social workers involved, exposing them to public hostility and media intrusion into their private and family lives.

Such experiences take social workers away from the front line, increase stress and damage health. Once a social worker has been vilified in the media, securing co-operation from families and other agencies may become difficult.

The social workers named are often the least senior and lowest paid staff involved in the decision-making chain. This risks scapegoating them for decisions when the council should instead be taking ownership at a senior level.

UNISON has written raising concerns to the relevant government departments, the Local Government Association (LGA) and WLGA in Wales, and the social services directors’ organisations.

We are issuing guidance for UNISON branches on supporting members in these cases. And we are running a survey for social workers asking about experiences of court work and opinions on the likely consequences of naming.

What we are hearing so far suggests the need for a package of measures including:

· More awareness raising and debate within the profession

· Proper risk assessments ahead of court proceedings and applications for anonymity for social workers where there are specific risks

· Ensuring court report writing and evidence are covered to a high standard in training and CPD

· Workload management measures including protected court preparation time and support

· A comprehensive media and social media strategy in every employer to protect social workers

· Health, safety and welfare support measures

· More liaison and engagement between social work services and the judiciary……………..’

Original post from TIME

‘Maria Shriver is a mother of four, a Peabody and Emmy Award-winning journalist and producer, a six-time New York Times best-selling author, and an NBC News Special Anchor covering the shifting roles, emerging power and evolving needs of women in modern life. Jennifer Siebel Newsom is a filmmaker, advocate, and President and CEO of the non-profit organization The Representation Project, which inspires individuals and communities to challenge and overcome limiting gender stereotypes.

Our boys are in crisis, and it’s time to do something about it.

Millions of boys hear these words, these phrases, these commands, almost every day of their lives. They absorb the words and then spend a lifetime dealing with their effects. For our young boys, the path from boyhood to manhood is strewn with harmful words and stereotypes.

Original post from EPOCH TIMES

Daryl Hannah has been open about her autism. (World Travel and Tourism, CC BY ) Daryl Hannah has been open about her autism. (World Travel and Tourism, CC BY )

Daryl Hannah has been open about her autism. (World Travel and Tourism, CC BY )

Decades ago I found myself working with a young woman with autism. I had done my reading of the autism texts of the time, and was singularly surprised when nothing I had read matched up to the person I was sat next to. There was no flapping, she had no interest in my earrings or buttons, and she certainly wasn’t even lining anything up.

We know so much more about autism now but the idea that all people with autism are disordered, impaired, or somehow “lesser” is one that still needs to be challenged. Having worked closely with people with autism for more than 20 years, I have had the pleasure of meeting many hugely intelligent, insightful, kind, caring, loyal, skilled autistic individuals, including two of my best doctoral students who both graduated successfully and are now prominent in their respective fields.

Some of the strongest marriages I have encountered are between people with autism, and I have also met multi-millionaire entrepreneurs who have been identified as autistic.

Identifying Not Diagnosing

So, the question remains, why is it that autism continues to be seen as a disorder, with terms such as “impaired functioning” still so rife within the literature and current diagnostic manuals? Why is it that one needs to present as a “problem” before being in a position to be identified as autistic? Even the term “diagnosis” brings along its own associations with “illness” or “disease”. Surely, this gives out the wrong message to all involved – parents, individuals, and the public.

For years I have been suggesting “identification” as a more appropriate term, which counters the pejorative language so often heard in reference to autism.

Without doubt being autistic in a world populated in the main by people who are not can cause huge issues for the individual and their family. But this is not the same as suggesting that the problems are caused by being autistic. The very fact that there are plenty of autistic individuals who are hugely successful demonstrates that being autistic does not preclude anything at all. Actors Dan Ackroyd and Daryl Hannah, and singer Courtney Love are to name but a few, while others have retrospectively identified other potential big names such as Stanley Kubrick.

Measuring Outcomes

Some research has shown poor outcomes for people with autism but there have been fewer evaluations using real-world measures such as employability, self-sufficiency and social support. Some of the ways we measure ability may also be problematic – take memory and learning, for example. The task support hypothesis – the idea that situations can be created for individuals with autism that capitalise on their areas of strength – can lead to situations where the ability to remember is increased.

The sad fact is that there are still schools of thought that deny the fact that people with autism can lead very successful lives; comments such as “she will never be able to have children”, or “he will never go to university” are still way too prevalent. Parents of newly identified children are still sometimes told what the future will hold, despite the fact that no one has a crystal ball. Perhaps many of the problems stem from being in a poorly understood minority group, rather than directly from being autistic?

 (AP Photo/Scott Heppell, File)

(AP Photo/Scott Heppell, File)

Nonetheless, things are changing for the better – however slowly. The National Autistic Society, for example, promotes employment for people with autism. The Equality and Human Rights Commission is working to ensure a level playing field in the workplace, although there is some way to go before this is fully realised.

At the Autism Centre at Sheffield Hallam University we’ve been working to further these initial advances; to continue to promote a more accepting view of autism and to encourage society to recognise the potential of autistic individuals. One of the courses we run in collaboration with the National Autistic Society has welcomed a plethora of autistic speakers, guest lecturers and autistic students who share insight and expertise.

So, have perceptions changed over the years? Well, for absolute certainty I can say that mine have. I no longer assume that all publications are correct, and recognise that all autistic people are individuals. I have learnt to challenge the notion of impairment and disorder, while still recognising the huge challenges faced by individuals and families. I have begun to recognise the damage that can be done by ignorance and misinformation. And I have learnt that changing perceptions through a better understanding of autism can significantly improve lives, and the best way to develop an understanding of autism is to listen to those who are autistic, their families and friends.

In terms of general perception – well, society is certainly moving slowly in the right direction, with more and more autistic people self-advocating and promoting their strengths, but there is an awful long way to go.


This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read theoriginal article.  ………’

Blogging is one of the freedoms we have, but this is not so in some countries.

Original post from Newser

A protester holds a placard outside the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in London during a demonstration against the flogging of Saudi blogger Raif Badawi.
A protester holds a placard outside the Royal Embassy
of Saudi Arabia in London during a demonstration against
the flogging of Saudi blogger Raif Badawi.   (AP Photo/Tim Ireland)

(NEWSER) – After an international outcry over the harsh sentence handed out to a Saudi Arabian blogger, the kingdom now appears to have decided a decade in prison and 1,000 lashes is too lenient. Raif Badawi’s wife tells theIndependent that official sources say charges of apostasy against him may be reinstated. Converting from Islam to another faith is punishable by beheading in Saudi Arabia, and an apostasy charge against Badawi was thrown out of court in 2013 after he told the judge he was still a Muslim. reports the Independent. The prosecution’s evidence included the fact that he once liked a Facebook page for Arab Christians.

Badawi’s wife, who now lives in Canada with their three children, tells the CBC that she won’t stop fighting for his freedom. “We call on the world citizens and governments not to leave Raif dragged by such bigots to death,” the family said in a statement. Amnesty International, which is calling for Badawi’s release, says it’s trying to confirm rumors of a new trial. Badawi was scheduled to receive 50 lashes a week for 20 weeks, but later rounds of lashingshave been delayed because of injuries he suffered in the first flogging.  …..’

Original post from The New York Times

‘…………..Women’s shelters are one of the most provocative legacies of the Western presence in Afghanistan.

KABUL, Afghanistan — Faheema stood trembling in the courtyard of the large house, steeling herself for the meeting with her family.

She took a deep breath and ran inside, her black abaya swirling around her, and fell to the floor at her uncle’s feet, hugging his knees, her face pressed against him, her shoulders heaving.

The reproaches came immediately. “How could you do this?” her uncle said. “You were always so sweet to everyone. How could you have done this?”

What Faheema, 21, had done was to run away from her home in easternAfghanistan with the man she loved. She left behind her large family and the man that her family had promised her to. Although her uncle’s words at first seemed kind, his tone had a dangerous edge: Faheema had to come home.

For a young woman from an Afghan village to go home after running away with a man is tantamount to crossing a busy street blindfolded: There is a strong likelihood that she will be killed for bringing shame on her family.

Faheema, who like many Afghans uses a single name, was one of the lucky ones: She had made it to an emergency women’s shelter, one of about 20 that over the last 10 years have protected several thousand women across Afghanistan from abuse or death at the hands of their relatives.

These shelters, almost entirely funded by Western donors, are one of the most successful — and provocative — legacies of the Western presence in Afghanistan, demonstrating that women need protection from their families and can make their own choices. And allowing women to decide for themselves raises the prospect that men might not control the order of things, as they have for centuries. This is a revolutionary idea in Afghanistan — every bit as alien as Western democracy and far more transgressive.

As the shelters have grown, so has the opposition of powerful conservative men who see them as Western assaults on Afghan culture. “Here, if someone tries to leave the family, she is breaking the order of the family and it’s against the Islamic laws and it’s considered a disgrace,” said Habibullah Hasham, the imam of the Nabi mosque in western Kabul and a member of a group of influential senior clerics. “What she has done is rebelling.”


Watching Turkish soap operas at night in the shelter run by Women for Afghan Women in Kabul. The shelter is one of about 20 that over the last decade have protected several thousand women across Afghanistan from abuse or death at the hands of their relatives.CreditLynsey Addario for The New York Times

The opposition comes not only from conservative imams, but also from within the Afghan government itself. Lawmakers came very close in 2011 to barring the shelters altogether and in 2013 nearly gutted a law barring violence against women. They yielded only after last-minute pressure from the European Union and the United States.

Now, as the Western presence in Afghanistan dwindles, this clash between Western and Afghan ideas of the place of women means many of the gains women made after the 2001 invasion are at risk.

Although the Taliban’s harsh restrictions on women alienated many Afghans and helped rally foreign support for the war, the idea that women must submit to men remains widely held.

Continue reading the main story

Graphic: Narrowing the Gap

“A lot has changed since 2001, but most people still have conservative, traditional views of women,” said Manizha Naderi, who runs Women for Afghan Women, which operates shelters or other programs in 13 provinces.

That makes the fragile network of safe houses and the women who staff them even more vulnerable to restrictive legislation and attacks by local strongmen. The shelters, like so much of the Western project to coax change in Afghanistan, are emblems of a society in transition.

While the shelters have brought freedom to many women, others are stranded, safe for a time from their families but unable to leave because neither their families nor society accepts them.

Ms. Naderi estimates that about 15 percent of the women in her shelters cannot leave — ever. For these abused women, the longer they live suspended between two worlds, the less the shelter comes to feel like a haven and the more like a jail.

A Frightening Example

Above all, Faheema wanted to avoid the fate of Amina, an 18-year-old who ran away from her family in rural Baghlan Province in the summer of 2013 and whose case became widely known. She fled when her family told her she would be marrying an older man.

Amina made it to the provincial capital and was picked up by the Afghan Intelligence Service. Unlike many runaways, who are seen as fallen women and are prey to being molested by the police, she was not abused. Instead, she was brought to the women’s ministry office, which exists in every provincial capital in Afghanistan.

The women’s ministry sent her to the only shelter in the province. But after one or two nights, her family arrived. They promised not to harm Amina if she returned home with them, repeating that pledge on a videotape after meeting with the head of the provincial women’s ministry office, Khadija Yaqeen. The girl then climbed into a taxi with her family.  ………………’

Original post   from Disability Scoop


An artist's rendering shows plans for The Villages at Noah's Landing, a gated community specifically designed for people with developmental disabilities. (Facebook)

An artist’s rendering shows plans for The Villages at Noah’s Landing, a gated community specifically designed for people with developmental disabilities. (Facebook)

LAKELAND, Fla. — Much of the money has been secured — nearly $14 million to date. The blueprints are being readied. A builder has been hired.

It’s showtime.

“It’s been a long road; God has called me to do this,” Jack Kosik said recently at the 56-acre site that soon will be developed into a gated community for people with developmental disabilities.

To be built on property acquired from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the new development known as The Villages at Noah’s Landing shares with a similar project soon to break ground in Jacksonville the distinction of being the first communities of their type in Florida.

A ceremonial groundbreaking event in February kicked off Phase 1 of construction on 16 acres that includes 132 apartments and a recreation center with pool and commercial kitchen.

Financed primarily with low-income housing tax credits, the project is expected to alleviate a waiting list for safe, affordable housing for adults with developmental disabilities such as autism, Down syndrome and cerebral palsy. Unlike state licensed group homes, Noah’s Landing will operate independently, with oversight provided by staff, volunteers and parents, along with monitoring from state social workers.

It’s a concept gaining acceptance nationwide, providing a stimulating community setting for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities who are capable of living with some degree of independence.

Parents are critical to the success of Noah’s Landing, which will provide support services tailored to individual needs, said Philip Gossen, board president of Noah’s Ark and a single parent to Phil II, 30, who has cerebral palsy.

The concept of the inclusive community, with some oversight provided by parent volunteers, provides a level of trust that most other residential settings can’t provide, Gossen said.

“(My son) will definitely need support and help for the rest of his life, and I know that Noah’s Ark will help provide when I’m not there,” he said. “That gives me peace of mind.”

As an operating partner for restaurant chain Ruby Tuesday, Gossen spends much of his time on the road. He said it took much convincing three years ago for him to agree to place his son, who is somewhat self-sufficient and could be left alone for hours at a time, at Noah’s Nest, a cluster of three group homes on South McKay Avenue.

His fears soon dissipated.

“I was a great provider for my son. It wasn’t that he was unhappy, but we were stagnant,” Gossen said. “(At Noah’s Nest) he got more social and independent. He just has a greater purpose in life when he wakes up every day.”

When Noah’s Landing opens its doors about this time next year, Phil Gossen II will be one of its initial residents. The complex will be composed of one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom apartments. Additional phases will include more housing, an assisted-living facility, fishing dock and recreational areas. Ultimately, the community could house up to 224 individuals.

Most residents will pay $400 a month for rent and utilities out of their monthly Social Security disability benefits, which vary, depending on a number of factors. For instance, some people with disabilities qualify for a larger allotment once their parents reach Social Security age or die, said Kosik, parent of a daughter, Brittany, who has a disability.

But despite a government subsidy, many people with intellectual and developmental disabilities must live with parents because of a shortage of affordable housing equipped to handle their needs, he said. Noah’s Landing and a small number of similar communities springing up around the country aim to alleviate the problem, giving aging parents respite from the demands of caring full time for their loved ones.

“The question for (many) parents is, ‘Where is my child going to live when I die?’” Kosik said.

Across the state, a community similar to Noah’s Landing — The Arc Village — is preparing to break ground on the outskirts of downtown Jacksonville. It, too, is benefiting primarily from federal low-income housing tax credits, said Jim Whittaker, president and CEO of The Arc Jacksonville.

The 97-unit project also will rely on The Arc’s ability to raise additional dollars through grants and a capital campaign, the same as the Lakeland project, which must leverage at least $3 million in addition to its $14 million in tax credits.

“There’s a tremendous amount of interest throughout the country in what we’re doing here in Florida,” Whittaker said. “It’s a drop in the bucket as far as the need statewide” for affordable housing of this type.

“Hopefully, places like the village can be replicated.”

Already, as many as 227 parents and guardians have indicated interest in placing loved ones at Noah’s Landing, Kosik said. “We believe we’re starting a tsunami. If we do it right, this will be a national model.” ….’

Original post from Understood

‘By Lyn Pollard

Student looking perplexed in class
I’ve been focused on my 9-year-old daughter’s dyslexia for years now. Since we found out she had a reading issue in kindergarten, I’ve spent a lot of time educating myself.I even wrote a personal essay for the New York Times about how I felt when I first learned about my daughter’s dyslexia. Now, as the Parent Advocacy Manager at the National Center for Learning Disabilities, I talk with parents across the country about how learning issues affect their children at home and at school.But as much as I talk, write and think about dyslexia and how kids like my daughter deal with it every day, I’ve never really walked in her shoes. When I was asked to try theThrough Your Child’s Eyes simulation of dyslexia, I jumped at the opportunity.It went something like this:

The letters are jumbled. The clock starts ticking. You can’t read the words. You feel stressed out almost right away.

You try to put words into context by reading the entire sentence, but you can’t. You have to decode. But until you flip the letters, you can’t figure out the words. It’s really hard to tell which letters are flipped.

The more frustrated you get, the more you want to give up. Is reading this even worth my time? What is it trying to say? What’s the point? Keep in mind this is only a 75-second exercise. And I’m not 9 years old.

And so it hits me. This is what it’s like for my daughter every time she reads.

No wonder.

No wonder the tears, the excuses and the tantrums when I ask her to read or do her homework. No wonder as much as she loves her reading tutor she is completely exhausted at the end of each session.

No wonder she cries and doesn’t want to go to school. No wonder she feels ashamed and has trouble making friends.

I may never fully know what she faces, but I get it much more now. It’s not just about dyslexia. It’s about what it’s like to struggle with something fundamental.

For my daughter, being understood means having the opportunity to reach her goals, both big and small. The more I understand about what it’s like to be in her shoes, the more I can help her achieve success in them.

Any opinions, views, information and other content contained in blogs on Understood.org are the sole responsibility of the writer of the blog, and do not necessarily reflect the views, values, opinions or beliefs of, and are not endorsed by, Understood.

About the Blogger

Lyn Pollard

Lyn Pollard More Posts by the Blogger

Lyn Pollard is a writer and mom to two kids who learn differently. She’s also the parent advocacy manager for NCLD. ……….’

Original post from Autism Daily Newscast

Carly Fleischmann youtube 300x169 What happened to Carly Fleischmann? : an exclusive interview with her fatherDuring the tail end of last year (2013) Carly was having a few really bad problems with her OCD. She has struggled with her OCD to an extreme level for a long time, but last year she was very bad, bad enough to keep her off class and it was bugging her. She herself researched ECT treatment (electro-convulsive treatment) as a treatment to lessen the symptoms of OCD. She wrote that she couldn’t wait to try it as her OCD was taking over and she didn’t feel able to c1ontinue as she normally did.We had to accept this as something she wanted and then researched the best specialists and therapists in the Toronto area. She had a few sessions of the treatment and we didn’t see any positive effects, in fact her writing diminished and a few months down the line she’s now saying she’s having trouble understanding us, and any communication, that it is garbled and incoherent.

Thinking back we can’t be sure that this is as a result of the ECT because prior to the treatment she was experiencing standing seizures, so as a family it’s very difficult to determine whether it was the treatment or something Carly was going through prior to trying the therapy. ECT has historically a really bad image, and I would never have put her through it knowing what I know now. And we’ve been reading more about seizure activity especially in autistic girls and women where there is very little to go on. We won’t know if she gets better or what happened conclusively for another year or so, but it’s human nature to try. That’s what we did.

Would you like to say something to Carly’s supporters?

Yes, I would like to say thank you to those who have expressed loving support for Carly.

Anyone who knows Carly will understand that she made her own choice and was capable of doing so. Decisions about Carly’s treatment are made by Carly. It wasn’t a capricious decision taken lightly by us as her parents. We researched the best people in Toronto to take care of her.

Physically Carly is in very good health, but she has been overwhelmed and working hard for the last year or so with school and advocacy, but we really wanted her to live as normal a life as possible. We all have to accept that we have a personal limitation. We have moments with the therapists now where she laughs and jokes with them, proving that the “old Carly” is still in there and fighting.

We are keeping an eye on the so called rumour mill on FB from time to time, but we felt the time was right to come out and give our side of the story.

We would like to thank Mr Fleischmann for making the time to speak to Autism Daily News Cast to set the record straight. We would also collectively like to send our regards to Carly, and hope that she will be well on the road to recovery and back to Carly’s voice very soon.

Shân EllisAbout Shân Ellis

Shân Ellis, is a qualified journalist with five years experience of writing features, blogging and working on a regional newspaper. Prior to working as a journalist, she was a ghost writer for top publishers and was closely involved in the editing and development of book series. Shân has a degree in the sciences, and 5 A levels. She lives in the UK and is the mother of an autistic child.

Original post from the blog of The Huffington Post


Original post from The Guardian

‘………The chancellor should invest in the care and support that helps keep people out of hospital

An older woman and gets her meals on wheels delivered to her front room.

Services that help people remain independent, such as meals on wheels, aren’t luxuries we can choose whether or not to fund, says Izzi Seccombe. Photograph: Matt Cardy/Getty Images

No one wants to see their elderly mum or dad or sick neighbour suffer but this is exactly what is happening in health and social care. While social care remains chronically underfunded, the support elderly and disabled people rely upon will continue to suffer and deteriorate. Another care crisis, like the one we saw this winter, will become an unavoidable reality all year around, the vulnerable will not get the care they deserve and the NHS will remain under pressure.

This is why it is vital that the chancellor uses next month’s budget to protect social care funding in the same way it is doing with spending on the NHS. We know there is less money in the system for everyone, but council and health leaders all recognise that it’s a false economy to only protect one part of the system – investing money and protecting funding for the NHS while forcing councils to cut already stretched social care budgets.

Social care services help elderly and disabled people remain independent and stay in their own homes and out of hospital. Simple everyday support such as washing, dressing and meals on wheels aren’t luxuries that we can choose whether or not to fund – they are essential services that must be properly funded if we are to continue helping people to live independently.

It simply doesn’t make sense to invest money in responding to increased hospital demand when investment in care and support would help keep people out of hospital in the first place, and prevent them from returning if they require acute care.

While councils have been striving to protect spending on adult social care as much as possible, growing demand, escalating costs and a 40% cut to local government budgets across this parliament means they are being forced to make impossible decisions about which services they can afford to provide.

The repercussions of this are being felt not just by those reliant on the care system, but by everyone who uses services provided by a council. This April, local authorities will have to divert £1.1bn from services like fixing potholes, running libraries and keeping our streets clean to pay for adult social care. These are services that contribute to everyone’s wellbeing and everyone in the community values, not just elderly or disabled people.

This isn’t good enough. We need a care system that is fit for the 21st century and it must be a shared ambition between government, councils and their health partners. It’s not enough to keep papering over the cracks. Getting this right is crucial for the future sustainability of social care and the NHS, and for the quality of care people receive.

Simply put, if adult social care remains underfunded, the most vulnerable will not get the care they deserve and the NHS will remain under pressure. This is a situation in which neither health nor social care wins, and it is the people who need care who will suffer the most.

The government needs to invest money in protecting a system that is there to look after people in the long-term and not just in the immediate term – and it should be a priority for next month’s budget to do just that.  ……….’



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