Why Autism And School Ain’t As Good As It Used To Be

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon from Pexels

Having autism myself, which was undiagnosed at the time of my school years, puts me in a greater position to understand my 15 year old son Sam who was also diagnosed with Autism two years ago.

This is the shortened version of the torture we went through during this time as a family. 

Only because I have the knowledge of being a school refuser myself, was I able to understand why Sam was refusing to go to school. 

Sam is highly intelligent. He received the one of highest Sats results in the country at the age of 10, and loved the attention that this intelligence brought him. 

Unfortunately with Sams high intelligence also comes high anxiety. 

Anxiety, if not spotted early and dealt with  effectively, leads straight to school refusal in sam’s case and many other children just like him on the spectrum. 

So how have schools changed to include children who are on the spectrum, or meet the needs of a highly anxious child with ASD ?

Some mainstream schools now have what is known as a hub for AEN students. Those with additional educational needs. 

These usually comprise of children with all different varieties of needs.

Sams learning difficulty is not because he finds the work difficult, it is because of the environment in which he is expected to do it in. 

Although these ‘hubs’ now exist in some schools, children are still expected to just ‘fit in’ with mainstream life. 

Having autism for Sam means that he can’t fit in. The energy Sam needs to try and fit into the school ‘box’ exhausts him, and he can only manage it for so long until cracks begin to appear, and school refusal begins again. 

Sam has been refusing school for around a month now. After government cuts forced him into sharing school transport, meant changing his driver with whom he had built a rapport with over the previous year, who he had gained a lot of trust in, and who had shared his triumphs in getting in to school the previous term.

An accident involving the new taxi driver who left the children to fend for themselves after the accident, and failed to inform anybody about it, all left Sam with whiplash, and a huge rise in his anxiety levels, which has in turn spiralled into school refusal once again. 

Schools are still as ill equipped in dealing with Autism today, as they were 40 years ago. 

There have been no changes in the way that people with Autism are still expected to somehow ‘fit In’ with an outdated education system.

People with Autism now have a name for their differences, and are not labelled as ‘maladjusted’ as I was back in the eighties. Much has been learned about Autism over the last few years, but nothing has been changed fundamentally to the mainstream education system It is still as rigid as it always was. Fit in or else.

Sam seems to be paving the way for himself. He tailor made his own curriculum, and up until a few months ago was doing an amazing job of keeping it all together. 

Unfortunately juggling too many balls in a mainstream secondary school setting has been too much for him to cope with. 

The education system in the UK needs a complete overhaul. 

We are creating anxious and depressed young adults who will be our future generation. 

School anxiety has become a huge problem in the uk, with thousands upon thousands of children, too ill to go to school because of it. 

Instead of treating our children with anti- anxiety medication, the government need take a look at the real problem, instead of just treating the side effects. 

The way things are going we are heading into a generation of un-educated, anxious and isolated individuals, who will have problems well into their adult lives because of it. 

If like me you are fighting to get your child an education suitable for their needs, don’t stop. Don’t give up ,we have to pave the way for future generations of children on the spectrum. Autism isn’t going away, its here to stay.

We all deserve a better future going forward.

Love Betty 

How To Blog Whilst Walking The Fine Line Between Sanity & Insanity

moonlight through the trees

The view from karensjointatthetopofthegarden.com

Many of you may wonder why my website address has the name Karen in it. 

Many moons ago I was once known as Karen. After a huge mental health crisis which almost took my life, a new name change came about. 

I was no longer Barren Karen, and I morphed overnight into Blogging Betty. 

Unfortunately before the morph took place, our website had already been established. 

Changing the name of a domain etc is just not worth the hassle, so in loving memory of our dearly departed Karen, the name will stay. 

As most of you are aware I have severe mental illnesses, and spend a lot of time healing my fractured mind, by doing any kind of therapy that I can think of.

baking therapy…one of my many therapies. galaxy chocolate chunk cookies with ice cold milk for dunking.

I am currently sitting in the joint at the top of the garden doing some of my other therapies.

I’ve got one hand on my MacBook and the other one is smoking a reefer. 

It’s dark and cold outside, but it’s so quiet, comfy and peaceful up here. I now have electricity and heat, which is a welcome bonus now that its way below zero, and the middle of December. The only sound I can hear is the odd hoot from a Tawny owl looking for his supper.

taken in my garden last week, the unique ice crystals on fallen leaves

I am sitting here meditating, trying to get out of my own way, so that I can blog tonight. 

I love Blogging. 

Yes I found it late in life, but better late than never, as my old grandad used to say. 

Unfortunately because I found it later in life, and because my mental health issues get in the way, I often find myself wondering if I will ever become a top blogger. 

I’ve been blogging now for around 6 months. In that 6 months I have learned a lot. Not only about blogging, but about myself. 

Being on so many different journeys at once is amazing. 

A journey of self discovery,  a spiritual journey, healing from trauma, self acceptance journey, and my blogging journey all take up most of my time. 

Being an Autistic single parent at the ripe old age of 50, to a 15 year old son who also has Autism with severe Anxiety, and Tourette’s Syndrome, takes up a fair bit of my time too. 

Does this mean I don’t have the time to be a top Blogger ? 

How much time do you need to spend on your blog to be a top Blogger ? 

Since I started blogging I have been following a few top bloggers, but finally found my soul mate in Ryan Biddulph. 

He doesn’t know we’re soul mates, but I do and that’s all that counts. 

Apart from the fact he’s a very handsome chap, he gives out fantastic advice, and if I had more hours in the day I’m sure I would be a top earning blogger just like him by now. 

So as I sit here wondering where I can find the extra hours to follow Ryan Biddulph’s advice, I realise that I am already doing it. Because those of us who walk that fine line between sanity and insanity are juggling so many balls at once, the fact that every time they even publish a blog it’s a huge achievement. 

doesn’t mention that it helps with blogging, but ill try anything… my new daily multivitamin for over 50’s not sure whether to laugh or cry…

Little steps on this journey we call life. 

keep on keeping on… ‘All Bloggers Rock’ love Betty x

It’s Been A Funny Old Day With Corned Beef And Cannabis

Today has been a funny old day.

Isn’t it strange how one small event can set off a chain reaction, and change the whole course of your day. 

Today I decided to bake a pie, I love baking, and recently even started enjoying eating it too. 

So I take the corned beef out of the cupboard and immediately my mind turns to ‘why the hell does corned beef still come in the most dangerous contraption known to mankind?’

We are heading into the year 2020, cars can drive themselves, living on another planet now seems feasible, so why in gods name does corned beef still arrive packaged like this ? 

It is the only tinned food that I have come across that requires risking life and limb, just by opening it. 

If the key is missing, you may as-well throw the damn thing out, rather than trying to use a tin opener. Tin openers do not work with corned beef tins, this is why they provide the key. No key =no corned beef.

Luckily this week my keys were all intact, and I only sliced my finger once on the jagged edges doing so. 

Then I thought ‘I wonder if people even know the dangers of corned beef tins ?’ and should I tell them?

You can’t really blog about corned beef tins can you ? 

This was the moment that my thoughts turned into another blog. 

A recipe blog, so I then began taking pictures of each step of my pie making, on the off chance that somebody might actually want to know how to make a corned beef and potato pie.

So here it is 2 tins of corned beef (check the key and watch your fingers). 

About 6 large potatoes cooked til soft.

Half an onion finely diced and boiled. 

Give it a good mash, pretend it’s the person who invented corned beef tins.

Rough puff pastry, bought or homemade either is good. 

This is when things took another strange turn. I always decorate my pies. I began to think of what decor my pie would have today, when the old nursery rhyme ‘Sing a song of sixpence’ came into my head.

Whilst I’m internally singing along “4 and 20 blackbirds baked in a pie,When the pie was opened the birds began to sing, wasn’t that a dainty dish to put before the king”

Suddenly My brain went Ting and there was my 420 wake and Bake gratitude pie, and my blog became something different again.

I gave up on sharing my recipe,  all you need to do next is stick it in the oven for 35 minutes and the pie cooks itself. 

Upon gathering my thoughts at the end of the day, I find the 5 things that I am most grateful for in my life today. 

My gratitude for being able to live another day on this earth, and the 4 cannabis joints that have helped me to enjoy it. 

Although there is no cannabis in my pie,  there is enough of it in me to save the day. 

A slice of gratitude pie for corned beef, cannabis and happiness..

You can have your pie and eat it. 

Is Takiwatanga A Disability ?

Takiwatanga is the Mauri word for Autism. 

The English translation is ‘In My Own Space And Time’

For me this sums up my Autism, I am in my own space and time. 

I like being Autistic, I’ve had plenty of practice at it, what with me being a silver surfer and all that. 

Over the years I have found that Autism only becomes a disability for me when it comes into contact with a society that doesn’t understand it. 

My Autism is not a disability to me it is who I am. It becomes a disability when society wants me to be just like them. 

Being Autistic becomes difficult only when we are requested to do something that people think we should be able to do, just because everybody else can do it. 

So is Autism the disability ? or is it society that disables it ?

What are your thoughts ?

Autism is different for everyone, these are all my own opinions and thoughts. 

Your Autism may be completely different to mine, but we all share a common trait, we are all different to the ‘norm’. 

But we are all unique in the ‘how different from the norm we are’ department. 

Seeing the world through a different lens can be difficult, some people need more help than others, to be able to make sense of a world that sometimes makes no sense. 

one of my art therapy drawings.

Learning to embrace your differences, and use them to your advantage can take a lot of time, and requires much more effort than simply being.

Being born with Autism, is like being given a different set of instructions to follow, than those born without it.

Social norms can be learned, but not without considerable effort and energy on the learners part. Those born without Autism do not need to use considerable energy to attain these social norms. They have the correct set of instructions from birth.

The amount of energy used in trying to ‘fit in’ with society can sometimes become impossible to maintain. This leads to becoming overwhelmed, and the meltdowns begin.

Take society out of the equation, I am happy, not disabled, just me Betty.

Add a dose of society and I can easily become disabled Betty.


Is Blogging Autism and Friendship Connected ?

Being a newbie blogger, I am slowly getting used to the idea that Blogging is meant for social people. 

I am not a social people.

I am not Anti-social, but I do find it very difficult making and keeping friends. 

This is not because I’m an unfriendly person, merely because I do not have the social skills required in maintaining friendships.

I have had ‘friends’ but because of my Autism, and the energy required to maintain friendships, I find it extremely difficult, and even more so as I am getting older.

In ‘real life’ I have 1 friend. Hi Lynda.

I recently fell in love with blogging, and wanted to be the best that I could be at it. 

Here comes the crunch, to become a successful blogger you have to befriend other bloggers. 

And there lies the problem. I love reading and finding out how other people tick. I find people fascinating. I will read their blogs and advice and think to myself, wow that was a good read, or I didn’t know that. I retain information easily, and always absorb what has been written.

Then something else will come into my mind, and boom, Im now on a completely different thought path, and promptly forget to like the article, or comment on it. 

Not because I don’t like, or have nothing to say, simply because I have a memory like a sieve.

So for all of the hundreds of bloggers who’s blogs I read and love .. I love your work, I do have lots I would like to say to you all, but my Autism makes this difficult.

All of my blogging friends are important to me, they have taken the time to read what I have to say. 

Time is one of the most precious commodities, and if you have given yours to me freely, then you truly are a friend. 

To all of my readers, and fellow bloggers, I appreciate your friendship, keep on keeping on.

love Betty x