Fellow Followers, I Need Your Help!

Hiya everyone. Gigi here.

Normally, I wouldn’t ask for help from my followers but I thought it would be a good opportunity to get you guys involved. I am currently writing an article about whether or not sign language should be added in the school curriculum and I’m thinking about getting it published in a national newspaper. However, I’m stuck on what to write so I was wondering if you guys can share your opinions with me. You can tell me anything; you can ask me why it is or isn’t a great idea, what would children learn from sign language, who would benefit and maybe , you can share your stories, if you wish.

I would be extremely grateful for your help and appreciate your thoughts.

🙂

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What’s It Like Living With Autism?

This post was requested by my parents, especially my Mum in general. While I was growing up, I heard stories from them about other people with Autism giving literatures about their lives and how they struggle each day. My Mum then said to me I could write a post about and there it is: my life, as an Autistic young woman.

 

I was diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorder when I was two years old. I can’t remember the day the doctors told my Mum or the side affects before the diagnosis. Apparently, I had a lot of screaming fits, nasty temper tantrums and would often hit people. But it was mystery of how it started; the family believes my change came from the MMR vacation while others may say it was my birth. I was born a month prematurely after my Mum was sudden taken ill while extremely high blood pressure, but luckily we both survived.

I say, I believe in both cases because from the stories I heard from my parents, I think my Autism was really, really bad. I was also I sickly child and I was often ill (and still am, as an adult); it would take me forever to cover. The longest time it took me was nearly six months when I had whooping cough as a teen.

In both Primary and Secondary school, I found it really hard to socialise and co-operate with the other children. I did have a few friends, but most of them saw me in a different way. Mum said it was hard to find schools that’ll take on Autistic students; I realised this when we were looking for Secondary schools. To me, they might say, “Oh, there’s room for you come here”, or “You’re not good enough to join our school”. However, we did find schools that would accept me. Studying was really hard; half the time, I was in the classroom with my peers and the half was in “different rooms” where I would learn social skills and do spelling tests with learning support staff. I did mix and mingle with other students with Autism, Down’s Syndrome, etc. but the students in Secondary weren’t very co-operate.

Outside the classrooms, however, I was picked on and bullied a lot. Mostly by boys. I would often have habits by talking to myself, playing by myself and always being a jolly, happy child. This made a target for bullies. They called me names, laugh at me, poke my body (sometimes my private parts) and in one case, I was pushed hard against to a wall when someone saw me by myself near a stair landing. I was very vulnerable and because of this, I started to lose confidence in myself. I was also excluded by the popular kids, no matter how I tired to be polite. The only people I would say who I trusted and still do, are my family and teachers. I had a lot of nice teachers at school, even teachers who other students didn’t really like. However, there was this one teacher I had who was not nice towards children. I heard a story that she pushed a child in the school corridor one time, but she left before the summer holidays.

My parents saw this as a worrying thing, so they tired to make me feel better. As a child, I went to therapy sessions; speech, how to walk properly (I had really bad balance), went homoeopathic hospitals, had ultrasounds on my heart because I had difficulty doing physical running and I even brush therapy. I’m not joking on this one; for this session, I had someone stroking my hand palms with a paintbrush to make me feel calmer. To begin with, they were really ticklish so Mum and I called them “tickling brushes” and still do to this day. Most of the therapy sessions did help; when I was older, I began to feel more calmer and kinder.

But I still have a lot to learn. So far, I haven’t been able to travel by myself; as I need public transport to get me places. I still haven’t formed strong relationships with some of my peers. Today at Drama school, I still get picked on because other students want to give me three attention or for some other reason. One time, I got stalked by someone, who was just being nasty. That person scared me so bad that I hid and cried in a public lavatory. However, I’m starting to get a little bit better; I start to feel more confident about social situations. I try and see it as a learning curve.

Despite my difficulties, I have achieved many things in life including getting loads of certificates at both schools, including an Outstanding Contribution to School Life certificate, when my Secondary school celebrated a special anniversary; participating in the Special Olympics, did a regional swimming  competition, and won three gold medals when I was only eight years old and of course, my every own blog. It’s a lot to achieve by; to be honest, I’m not proud with some of them but it has showed that anything is possible, even if I am Autistic. I would love to achieve more, such as passing my driving test, graduate University and travel the world. If anybody says it’s not possible, I would say to myself, “I’m going to prove your wrong”. 

Being Autistic isn’t really easy and lots of people wouldn’t know today if I have Autism. I know others who I can see that they have Autism; some do things I feel uncomfortable about or have difficulty to co-operate by, but then I always forget that I was in the same position, a long time ago. I think people need to have patience with anyone who has Autism or any other disability because they may struggle in life and need to shown kindly, instead of being criticised all the time when a parent says you forget to wash up the dishes again or when a peer tells you off for getting something wrong in class when they know they’re not supposed too. We need to learn as a community that Autism isn’t a label or people who are different aren’t punching bags, invisible objects or strangers, they’re human beings and they need help from teachers, parents and friends. 

Please take this really seriously, as there will more people with Autism in the future who will comer do an amazing things in their lifetime but they can’t do it alone because they need help from the people they love.

I will know leave you with a comment by Karen Kingsbury: 

“But the Beast was a good person…the Prince looked on the outside the way the Beast was on the inside. Sometimes people couldn’t see the inside of the person unless they like the outside of a person. Because they hadn’t learned to hear the music yet.” 

Are Children’s Games Excluding?

Note: This is an old article I wrote last term for Drama school; my class were focusing on including and excluding subjects that the world suffers and in our spare time, we were asked to research and send information that are either inclusive or excluding. I’ve chosen many subjects and some, I’ve written in articles. This is the first I have put online but I’ll see how it goes before I’ll post some more.  

When I was a young girl, I remember going to after-school events, classes and holiday workshops like Girl Guides and school productions. Although I liked the activities they did, my favourite thing was to play games. However, what I didn’t realise was how some of my favourite childhood games were excluding. I was pretty shocked about this situation and I’m still shocked that these kinds of prejudice still exist today.

In one lesson on Developing Inclusion Children’s Theatre, my class peers and I did various exercises on inclusion and excluding activities for Children’s and Youth Theatre Workshops; most of them used original games like “Musical Chairs” as examples for activities that are excluding, then tried to alternate them so the games are inclusive for everyone. Afterwards, we had discussions about them, as a whole year group. And it is their discussions that have inspired me to write this article and explain why some of my favourite games are excluding.

I have been excluded by some of these games but I choose five because, I believe they can exclude an entire group, not just individuals themselves.

  • Duck, Duck, Goose – It is a traditional game that children first learn in nursery or reception at school, but what makes this game excluding? While the rules are simple, playing the game isn’t. Duck, Duck, Goose isn’t a fair game to play because children will often pick their close friends to be the ones chasing them and what about the children in wheelchairs? The chairs won’t be able to come out of the circle or chase after their peers. This is completely unfair for them because they won’t get a chance to join in and have fun.
  • Splat – Otherwise known as Bang, this game was a personal favourite at the Girl Guides. This was the first game (I didn’t know at first) I came to realise that was excluding. Not only the leader chooses who the splatter is, but the person who’s the splatter chooses who gets splatted and who is out. The peers have to be quick ducking and splatting opponents, otherwise they are out, until there are two people remaining. Children will often get jealous when they see an individual winning a game and this can lead to arguments.
  • Fruit Salad – It is very creative and a good learning game to teach children how to eat healthily (in my opinion). But, it is excluding because the leader, again, chooses a player to lead the game, divide their peers into groups and calls on the names of fruit to change places, separately, despite a few chances when everyone will stand up and find chairs to sit on.
  • The Name Game – It’s a great way to get to know your peers names. However, this is excluding in many different ways; what I’m interested in is the physically within the game. Again, it is a problem for wheelchair users. While other children can happily free use action moves to go with their name, they will not be able to. They’ll be stuck, only having to say just their name rather joining in with creative actions when it’s their turn.
  • Runner Beans – It is another physical game (and it used to make me giggle a lot when I used to play it). But like “Splat”, it is excluding because there is only one person who would lead the game; in other words, the leader. Then, the children would have to listen to instructions like “French Beans” or “Baked Beans” and copy each other, acting out the beans, using their bodies. These include lying down, flat on the floor or jogging on the spot like athletes. It is a huge problem for wheelchair users because they won’t be able to appreciate at all.

It is disgraceful that most theatre companies and well-known after-school events allow to teach children excluding others. It shows that even we are living in the modern world, we are failing behind on equality and fairness for all children and young people. We are also letting down future generations by not doing anything to resolve these situations.

In my opinion, teachers should, like my peers did in the Development lesson, alternate the games and make them different in order to make them inclusive. For example, they could have three splatters in a game of “Splat”. Also, instead of making people sit down they are splat, the leader could allow the children to be splatters themselves. In one way, it is better because everyone is included and it’ll help to strengthen the children’s team work skills. Hopefully, in time, a movement like this will happen everywhere and people will come to realise how excluding we had become and it’ll be possible to change all of this.