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Monday, 9 December 2013

Moving into the future with services for Aspies

With Asperger's Syndrome only being formally recognised in the DSM until 1994 and the majority of people being diagnosed as children up until recently there has been a lot more focus on children and adolescents than adults.


As of late there has been some talk and a few implementations of services for Adult Aspies as people have started to realise there are (especially now) a lot of them that require services. It is very important to have Aspies involved in the decision making processes and allow them to gain positions as aids as appropriate to achieve a sense of belonging to these organisations and have them feel as not a dictatorship but rather a helpful environment/service. Some of the services required are:

  • Employment - to help increase the number of Aspies employed it is necessary to have specialised employment services that understand Autism and have specific programs in place to help secure appropriate employment. 
  • Social therapy and social groups. I believe that both therapy and attending a social group for adult aspies that are run by Aspies is important as it helps us improve our social skills and feel less isolated and alone. It is necessary for more adults to take initiative to start social group like I have in Orange and Garry Burge has in Brisbane. One path of doing so is talking to a local autism parents group and seeing if they can help assist in creating a social group for aspies. Social groups also help in discussing and solving other issues as teamwork can yield new perspectives and solutions better than just oneself.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Trekking4Autism

It is my pleasure to be inviting Peter Hosking to the next Orange Asperger's Social Group as a guest speaker. Peter is quite inspirational as he is giving it his all to raise money and awareness (which will eventually lead to more acceptance) for people with an Autism Spectrum Condition. Peter is 31 years old and has Asperger's Syndrome. He will be trekking from Walhalla in Victoria to Tharwa in the ACT along the Australian Alps Walking Track (AAWT) (totalling 655kms), from October to December 2014, all in the name of helping people with Autism. 

When he attends the group later in the month he will definitely add some very useful ideas into the group like having a healthy lifestyle which aids in having a healthy mind. Getting out into nature is a great way to improve health, by being out in the fresh air, exercising and getting the endorphin's flowing will help improve your mood and help thoughts become less stagnant. Often, the best thoughts and ideas come to people when they get out from behind the desk or TV and go for a walk or other physical outdoor activity.

He will also be talking about positive mindsets and overcoming obstacles that people with Autism may face, reaching your true potential and attaining goals that you truly deserve. Often people with Autism (myself included) are socially isolated, but with the help of groups like the one that I assist running we can all assist each other and become better people and work towards common goals. I believe that having online friends can help but its human nature to need face-to-face interaction with people (people with Autism included). If anyone has any ideas, opinions or questions about running a group or about Peter's expedition please leave a comment. Peter has asked me to mention that  he is needing some people to help with his trek. He needs to focus on training and physical strength/ endurance so would welcome enthusiastic people to help with media and sponsorships. You can also read more about Peters Trek on his website http://trekking4autism.com.au/.


Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Asperger's, mental distress and a different approach to treating mental distress

The reason why talking about mental distress (also known as mental illness but I use distress as it includes more people than what a diagnoses does and does not have the stigma attached as the word illness; it implies a fully human experience) in the Asperger's community is that various studies have shown that as many as 70% of people with Asperger's also have a mental illness, most commonly depression and anxiety although there is likely a higher percentage of people that have autism also have schizophrenia and bipolar.

I went to a workshop in the week about which was titled "Navigating mental distress, supporting the personal journey of recovery". The pilot program is run by inside out & associates Australia (http://www.insideoutconversations.com.au/).

The workshop was about how the traditional method of treating mental illness is to solely use a medical approach to treat people with a mental illness creates stigma, leaves patients dis-empowered as they were dictated to by health professionals and were not in control of their own treatment. The seminar also explains how we need to move away from this, and let individuals take control by asking what they want/need, helping them reach the goals that they want to achieve, empowering the individual by handing back control to them and making them feel valuable by allowing them to be part of their own improvement.

The way we look at mental disorders need to go from being medical to being focused on the individual and looking at the distress as a wholly individual experience and treating the person as a person, not treating them as a "someone who is mentally diseased".

The seminar was on a recovery-oriented mental health services. Recovery is defined as ‘being able to create and live a meaningful and contributing life in a community of choice with or without the presence of mental health issues’.

Recovery-oriented approaches offer a transformative conceptual framework for practice,
culture and service delivery in mental health service provision. The lived experience and insights of people with mental health issues and their families are at the heart of recovery-oriented culture. The concept of recovery was conceived by, and for, people living with mental health issues to describe their own experiences and journeys and to affirm personal identity beyond the constraints of their diagnoses.

Recovery-oriented approaches recognise the value of this lived experience and bring it together with the expertise, knowledge and skills of mental health practitioners, many of whom have experienced mental illness in their own lives or in their close relationships. Recovery approaches challenge traditional notions of professional power and expertise by helping to break down the conventional demarcation between consumers and staff. Within recovery paradigms all people are respected for the experience, expertise and strengths they contribute.

Recovery-oriented approaches focus on the needs of people who use services rather than on
organisational priorities.

More information about recovery can be found here (these are also the source for part of this blog post)
http://www.ahmac.gov.au/cms_documents/National%20Mental%20Health%20Recovery%20Framework%202013-Policy&theory.PDF
http://www.mentalhealth.org.nz/file/downloads/pdf/Destination%20Recovery_FINAL_low%20res.pdf

I am in agreeance with this approach and believe that it will help alot more people have better outcomes. This is a great start for people with an Autistic Spectrum Condition however, as there are quite a number of differences between non-autistic and autistic people such as the difficulties of recognising their own and others emotions, we often appear to lack empathy however the opposite is often the case that we feel very strong emotion which often confuses and overwhelms us.

As I have not found a lot of information I would like to get some thoughts from you on what I should put in my next post which will focus on what people with Asperger's need to cater for their specific needs in the way with dealing with co-morbid conditions, especially anxiety and depression, but any suggestions on this topic are more than welcome.

Thank-you for reading my blog and if you like my work please support it by giving it a plus1, sharing it on facebook and twitter. If you want to you can follow me on twitter (@AutismOrangeAus).Stay tuned for the next update.



Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Females and Aspergers Syndrome

As promised I am publishing a blog about females and Asperger's. I thought the best way to explain Aspie girls is to have someone with more knowledge than me in this area. I would like to share with you a video by Willow.  The video is about her personal experience as an Aspie  and her thoughts on girls on the spectrum.

Willow is a young woman with Aspergers Syndrome, Attention Deficit Disorder, Dyspraxia and Dyscalculia. She runs a YouTube page and a forum where she aims to help other people on the spectrum. You can find more about her on her website: http://www.willowhope.com/



Would love to know your thoughts on this subject, especially what you think about the ratio of females to males diagnosed and the general difference in behaviour between males Aspies and female Aspies.

Thanks for reading my blog and stay tuned for more updates!

Monday, 21 October 2013

Guest Post from my Mentor Garry Burge

This week's post is my first guest post which is written by Garry Burge who was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome 1998 by Dr Tony Attwood. Garry is heavily involved in Autism Advocacy and has started a group for Adults with Asperger's where he resides in Brisbane. Garry has been my mentor since he first contacted me a few months ago. Since then he has supported and encouraged me with my advocacy work, most notably helping me with creating a social group for Aspie Adults in Orange. His blog with further information about him and the great work that he and others are doing is here http://garrysaspieblog.blogspot.com.au/




Over the past month I have been in touch with other adults on the Autism Spectrum on skype. It is with great news that my contact with Ben Wilshire has been very productive. Ben is an adult on the Autism Spectrum based in Orange, New South Wales in Australia.  Ben like so many adults has a lot of potential and energy but finds the labor market a real struggle.  The many adults I come into contact with are finding employment support difficult. Either employment consultants from Disability Employment Agencies are not turning up, not getting back to clients or just unable to assist adults with Autism to get employment.  These factors have made me wonder whether the group I run and am  involved with should take action!  Is it possible that employers can be contacted with the positives of employing someone on the Autism Spectrum as possible?  The group now has many adults in attendance and it is hoped overtime that important responsibilities and commitments can be delegated. However this needs to be done in a way that brings out the potential of adults. 

Getting back to my earlier post concerning Ben in Orange.  I have worked with Ben to encourage him to take on an advocacy role and it is one that I believe he is doing very well. He now runs a group in Orange and this group is very important for rural New South Wales.  Regional Australia needs a big boost in terms of awareness and services for adults on the Autism Spectrum and Ben is doing a great job at providing a start.  The Brisbane and Orange groups are now working together and the Facebook group is now bringing in the help of others to spread the word of Autism and to work with the adults.  The group is a means of entering the Aspie world and for the outside world to see us positively and not as the often negative betrayal that is seen mostly in the media.  We have been somewhat disappointed that a newspaper article didn't go into the Courier Mail but there are more important things at the moment.  The work of Damian Santomauro is also important within Australia, especially Brisbane and like the many adults we have here, more of a focus on who we are and what we can achieve is essential.

The group in Brisbane has a lot of potential but currently I am trying to work through the many facets of a foundation base before important tasks need implementation.  The most important of these is dealing with the lack of services for adults.  Quite simply if you feel socially isolated and in need of friends, you have no choice but to put up with the 'me society' and to be referred to a psychiatrist or psychologist who will recommend medication or referral to some specialist who indicates that we are broken and need fixing.  Instead I would like to think that society needs fixing. A fixing in accepting Autism as a fact of life and to work with Autistic people rather than box or label them.  Of course this involves a lot of work but something that can be achieved with optimism. 

I would like to conclude by saying that I am working very hard with other adults to look at ways of moving this country forward in a positive direction with Autism.  It would be also good one day to entertain the idea of an Autism Act which was introduced into the UK Westminster Parliament and passed and that only needs a Member of Parliament to put forth a Private Member's Bill. Until then let us remain optimistic about the path forward.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Accommodations/considerations for those with Asperger's Syndrome

Society has become accustomed to considering people with a physical impairment and then accommodating those needs by incorporating features into buildings such as ramps, lifts and disabled car-parking spaces). Now is as good a time as any to consider those with Asperger's Syndrome in areas such as Employment, Education. (When I come up with a few more areas I will write another blog post on them). As people vary with their requirements what one Aspie requires isn't quite the same as what another Aspie requires it would make sense to discuss with the individual on whether the accommodations are suitable and whether any other reasonable accommodations can be made to assist with them reaching their full potential.


Employment

Unfortunately an Australian survey has found that only 54% of adult Aspies are in paid employment. With more employers understanding this demographic combined with accommodations such as those listed below it is possible to employ many more Aspies as most want to, and are capable of, working.

Examples of accommodations that can be made to assist Aspies include:


  • Including a section on the application form for the applicant to provide information about any adjustment they may require during the recruitment process and the workplace to help overcome potential barriers or disadvantages.
  • Let interviewees know in advance of the interview who will be on the panel, exactly where the interview will be held and what they can expect to happen during the interview itself. It is also good practice to ask the interviewee if they need you to make any adjustments to the room itself - for example, to the lighting
  • During the interview it is important to adjust the type and wording of questions you ask in order to give Aspies an opportunity to demonstrate their ability. This can be done by asking clear and concise questions as opposed to hypothetical or abstract questions and avoiding idioms and abstract language.
  • Raising staff awareness of the employee with autism’s particular strengths
  • Being clear about your expectations of the employee
  • Not making assumptions
A great resource (of which I got the aforementioned accommodations from) about employing people with Autism/Asperger's Syndrome can be found here: http://www.equalityni.org/archive/pdf/Employingpeoplewithautism.pdf


Education


Most students with Asperger's disorders are eager to learn, however as many have sensory issues and require to be taught in a way they better understand, their specific needs should be taken into consideration.

Examples of changes made to the learning environment/teaching methods include:

  • If they are light sensitive, seat them away from the bright windows.
  • If they are noise sensitive, seat them away from the door or hallway noise.
  • Have a quiet area for the student to use for seat work when needed. This would provide a quiet, non-visually stimulating area to allow better concentration.
  • Make sure to utilize the interest areas of the student to keep him/her involved in the activities. Everyone learns better if lessons are somehow connected to an interest area. If the student likes dinosaurs or the solar system, work that topic into the day, even if it is for a reward.
  • When under stress, ask if the student would like to leave for  a few moments
  • Provide step-by-step written instructions
These are quite useful and contain more information.

I am sure there are other areas that I could cover however am going through writers block at present. If you have any suggestions for what other areas I can cover in a blog in the future please message me or leave a comment. Also if you have any comments on this blog please write them in the comments as I would love to know peoples opinions on this topic. 









Monday, 7 October 2013

A letter to the media about Asperger's Syndrome and the support that is needed to improve the employment rate of Aspies

My name is Ben Wilshire and I have Asperger’s Syndrome. I live in Orange NSW and have recently started a social group in my local community to lessen the isolation that many Adults feel, that are on the Autism Spectrum. The meetings are a great place for other adults on the spectrum to be themselves and talk about what is important to them and having people who can relate to the situations that they are going through. You can read more about

Garry Burge, who I often collaborate with, has suggested that I provide you with statistics on various areas which need to improve in relation to Adults on the autistic spectrum. I would like to cite my source as a study titled “We Belong” ( the full report can be found here: http://www.autismspectrum.org.au/images/Final_We_Belong.pdf) which was conducted by Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect), to better understand the experiences, needs and aspirations of people on the autism spectrum who do not have any intellectual impairment. A survey of people with Asperger’s or HFA and their families or carers found that more than 70 per cent of respondents are not receiving enough support to meet their needs in key life areas including social skills development, access to employment and community participation.

In stark contrast to the Australian employment rate of 95%, just 54% of adults in the study (excluding those in full-time education) had a paid job and the most common response to why they don’t have employment is because they need more support to look for work and apply for jobs. This is despite the fact that 80% of the adults have commenced or completed a tertiary qualification and have an average or above average IQ.  Employment Service Providers have emphasised that ongoing support is as equally as important as help to enter the workforce. They have put particular emphasis on developing their social awareness and communication skills, as well as educating co-workers about autism.

With the right support from employment services and employers, and the two co-operating together, the rate of meaningful, paid employment for Adults with Asperger’s Syndrome will increase which will have many benefits including: a valuable contribution to the workplace by people with unique talent, a sense of being a productive member of society for the adults and a greater amount of independence and  increased positive opportunities.

Thank-you for allowing me the opportunity to contribute to your article. I hope to hear from you soon.


Kind Regards,


Benjamin Wilshire

Sunday, 29 September 2013

An update on the progress I am making in Autism Advocacy in my local area


I attended the local Autism/Asperger's Support group about a month ago for the first time as I had finally got around to finding out more about the group. I had talked to the group organiser before hand and he had informed me that other adults with my condition would be there. When I attended however I realised that something more was needed. This group seemed to be pre-occupied only by parents and issues with their school-aged children. Now I definitely think there is a place to have support for the parents however I identified a gap where work was needed to improve the group. This gap was to have some meetings or separate meetings especially for the socialisation of the people affected by Autistic Spectrum Conditions (ASC).

I knew for this to happen I would have to advertise the group specifically for people on the spectrum to come along. I approached the two local newspapers and was interviewed and my story published the week after. (You can read one of the articles here: http://www.centralwesterndaily.com.au/story/1777482/breaking-down-social-barriers/).

The Thursday just passed I held the group meeting. It was exhausting as parts were emotionally charged however I managed to get alot out of the meeting. The time spent on preparing the agenda was well worth it as I had a few questions answered and it kept the conversation fairly on topic. The main question that I asked the individuals with Aspergers at the meeting was "what do you want to get out of attending the group?".

There were multiple elements that the Adults with AS (Asperger’s Syndrome) who attended the meeting identified as important to include in the group. These were:
·      Share their experiences with other people with the same condition
·      Build relationships with each other
·      Learn more about AS
A local park in the beautiful city in which I live :)

It was also mentioned that as AS is only just becoming better known and understood it is important for them to learn more about themselves and learning how to cope with social in social situations.

My next project is to assist running the next group meeting in October  and to organise and run a fundraising event for people with ASC's. The purpose will not only be to raise funds for Autism but also to raise awareness and gain acceptance by the wider community, What I am needing to do now is to assess the needs of my local peers with ASC and determine (with the help and guidance from the group as a whole) to determine where the money will be best spent.  I want to be able to take my idea to a charity that supports people with ASD and make a proposal to where my donated money will go so I do not have to go through the process of creating a new, separate legal entity.

This will be a difficult but very worthwhile event that will keep me busy, among other things, over the next few weeks. If you are interested in keeping up to date with the group go to the page which is here:  http://www.facebook.com/pages/Orange-Autistic-Spectrum-Social-Support-Group/1421529814734828

Sunday, 1 September 2013

A draft letter that can be customised for writing to the media on Aspergers Advocacy

There are many ways of engaging the community for the purpose of Advocating Asperger's Syndrome(AS)/High Functioning Autism(HFA) such as starting a social group for people with HFA/AS or fundraising for a charity that is focused on helping people on the spectrum. The following is to give you ideas on how to approach the media and other people so you you come across clear and people understand what you are about.

Introduction paragraph.
This will tell people about the event or group or similar that you are going to be doing.
Something like:
To (name),

I am writing this letter to inform you about a social group that I am setting up for Adults with Asperger's Syndrome (AS) and High Functioning Autism (HFA). I myself have the condition and want to help others and myself with feel socially included and feel less like the odd-one-out.

Include a bit of information on what AS/HFA is

Asperger’s syndrome is a hidden disability. Physically, individuals appear perfectly normal. Their cognitive intelligence is average or higher. Yet they have great difficulty interpreting everyday social cues such as facial expressions or body language. As a result, they often impinge on others. Typically, they stand too close, interrupt conversations and continue to speak whether or not anyone is interested. Unfortunately as not many people know about the condition this causes us to often be ostracised from many people.

Write about the group/event you are hosting:

The group will have its first meeting at (place) (time). Any interested people are welcome to attend.

Thanks for reading (conclusion)

Thank-you for taking the time for reading my correspondence. Please let me know if you have any queries and I hope that you will be able to support my group by advertising it in (name of media).

Yours Sincerely

Benjamin Wilshire

(also dont forget to put your contact details in so they contact you)

I hope you find this post provides a bit of an idea of how to write a letter to Advocate Asperger's and would love you to leave a comment if you have any ideas on this.




Tuesday, 20 August 2013

What i do to stay healthy and feeling good

Research has shown that mental health and physical health is closely linked. This is shown in many ways, like people who are more optimistic about their outlook on their ailment, on average, recover faster than those who are pessimistic.For this reason I believe that the best approach of looking after yourself should equally include physical and mental improvements/activities.

 One of the most important things we can do is sleep well. Sleep is important as it allows the body to re-cooperate and repair itself. The best way to ensure you get the amount of sleep you need (this varies between person to person, however it is usually around 8 hours) is to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, or at least as much as you can, avoid alcohol and caffeine so to make sure you are not majorly affected by these as they can disrupt sleep, have a relaxing bedtime routine (I personally enjoy having a bath with Epsom salts that detoxifies the body and relaxes your muscles or read a book), don't use electronic devices 30 minutes before bed and make sure your bedroom is slightly cool, quiet and your bed is comfortable.


Eating well ensures that your body gets what it needs to function correctly. I try to make sure I eat a variety of foods and get a variety of different coloured veges and fruit on my plate, I also use the food pyramid as a guide on how much of a certain food group I consume. The best way to eat is to eat more kilojoules during the start of the day and less nearing the end of the day as your metabolism is faster at the start of the day. It is best to eat snacks between meals as this helps to keep your metabolism steady and may help you eating more because you are very hungry when it comes to meal time.

I know that social interaction is difficult with those on the spectrum as I struggle almost daily with interacting with people however it is still just as important for us Aspies to get a daily dose of connecting with other people. Attending an Aspie social group, joining a (or a few) facebook groups and engaging in the discussions and volunteering are all good ways of finding an opportunity to connect with people.

Exercising (my personal favourites are swimming and walking) helps with keeping your weight under control, improves mood (it works wonders to go for a session to make you feel less angry or upset) and assists with sleep. Aim for at-least 30 minutes a day and you will notice a positive difference in yourself if you don't regularly exercise.

 I'm sure there are other things that are great for your health. If you have any thing to add that you do yourself please write in the comments below and thanks for reading my blog.








Monday, 12 August 2013

Why my advocacy and HFA/Asperger Syndrome Advocacy in general is so important

I have been thinking of the reasons of why I write this blog and look for other ways to raise awareness and advocate for people who have High Functioning Autism(HFA)/Asperger's Syndrome (AS)

I have come across a report titled "We Belong"  done by Aspect (Autism Spectrum Australia). "We Belong" is an Australian first study which investigates the life experiences, aspirations and service and support needs of Australian adults with AS and HFA. Although this survey was done in Australia, the findings are also present in other countries. The facts and statistics I have in this blog entry come for the aforementioned report and can be found here
 autismspectrum.org.au

HFA/Asperger's Syndrome is quiet common in that around 6 in 1000 people have the condition. In Australia alone that equates to approximately 97,000 adults with HFA/AS.

The unfortunate fact that is highlighted by this report is that although adults with AD/HFA have aspirations and goals for their lives that are similar to those held by many other Australians however as a group we want to be better understood and accepted. Sixty percent of the adults in the study need more support to explain the nature of the condition to other people and service providers from across the education, employment and mental health domains who were interviewed for the research frequently commented that one of the greatest challenges for adults with HFA/AS lies in overcoming other peoples ignorance and misunderstanding. (this is why creating awareness and providing accurate clear and concise material on what AS/HFA is, is SO important in advocacy).

The work that I am doing that involves helping myself and other Aspies find employment is long overdue as the Australian employment rate is currently  95% and although more than 80% of these adults have commenced or completed a tertiary qualification only 54% (excluding those still in full-time education) have a paid job.

The report outlines other aspects however I have just prepared a bit of a insight into some of the aspects that need to improve in Australia (and a lot of other countries). As much as this report focuses on the things that need fixing it should be noted that already there is a lot of support for people with HFA/AS (like myself), these services need to expand and improve. It is going to be a long journey however I believe with determination of many people, including governments, schools, people with HFA/AS themselves it will be possible to provide better services and to  make more people aware and change their perception and attitudes towards these conditions.




Monday, 5 August 2013

Working again

After going through a quiet time without much work I have been contracted on to assist with the refurbishment of a local store moving stock onto the new shelves. This comes at a good time as I am planning to go on holiday early next year and also because I have accumulated a small debt due to not having much of an income the last couple of months.



I believe that it is important to work as not only does it assist financially, good work can bring a sense of belonging, inclusion and a feeling of accomplishment and doing something worthwhile. It also helps in creating a schedule. A structured routine is important, especially for people with Autism as without one you can forget to do important tasks, if you are going to bed and waking up at different times everyday this will adversely affect your sleep and we may become preoccupied with one of our special interests and we may spend more time than we intended to on them. Schedules are also important as they give more control over what you want to achieve i.e if you dont have a schedule or plan than it is alot more difficult to achieve the goals you set out to do.

As with any job, the job that I am currently doing comes with its own challenges. The main difficulty i faced when i started it was that it was overnight work. The first couple of nights I was tired nearing the end of the shift (mid-morning), however after a week of getting into a new schedule of sleeping and eating etc. i have become accustomed to it. It also helps to have a great team leader which not only makes sure that everyone knows what they're doing but also assists in getting the work done themselves too. It is great to work in a team where everyone gets in and gives it their best to get it done. Where I am working currently i feel that I am valued and assisted appropriately. It is so important for any work environment to have a great culture where employers contribution is valued and they are assisted/guided whenever possible.

As this is temporary work in my spare time I am currently organising a movie fundraising event with the Blue Jay Foundation (http://www.facebook.com/bluejayfundraising) so I and other Aspies who live in my town can gain a 1 months paid work experience. If you are from Australia and are interested I suggested that you look on their page and contact them.

Currently I am busy with work but I plan to post at least weekly. Stay tuned and thanks for reading!




Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Sleep issues and employment

For a very long time I have usually woken up feeling tired and sleep-deprived. I have been to the doctor several times and had all the usual blood tests taken including iron and thyroid function however these came back as normal. Recently I went to the doctor and suggested that I would like to get a sleep study test done as the other tests did not pick up on any abnormalities. When the results came back they suggested that I had a case of mild sleep apnea. The good news is that mild sleep apnea is often treated effectively by ensuring lateral sleep (sleeping on their side) is effectively maintained.

I have found in the past that these issues of not obtaining restorative sleep have majorly effected my performance at work. Compounding this issue is the fact that i consumed a large amount of caffeine to try and offset the affects of my lack of sleep. I often found that no matter how much caffeine I took I was not able to concentrate to a level that I could reach my full potential.

Up until recently I have still been taking caffeine however a few weeks ago I decided that I should give up caffeine because it was making me feel anxious, nauseous, affecting my sleep and made me feel generally unwell most of the time. I had come to realise that it did not help me function better and that it would be beneficial for my overall health to overcome my dependance on caffeine.

The method that I found effective was to reduce my caffeine gradually and put time aside to recover from the withdrawal symptoms which can include headaches, drowsiness, and nausea. I found that after gradually reducing my caffeine I was able to become independent from caffeine after a week of following a strict reduction of intake plan.

What I have found after becoming independent from caffeine is that my sleep quality has improved, I do not have nearly as much anxiety symptoms such as racing heart or trembling hands and I do not have nearly as many tension headaches as I did before.

Another thing that I found that has helped me get out of bed easier in the morning is maintaining a sleep routine. I find that if I go to bed and wake at around the same time everyday that my body is more naturally inclined to wake up at the time I need to get up therefore making it a lot easier to wake up. 

All in all after practicing good sleep hygiene I am starting to feel better. I do go through days where I feel I need caffeine and I do have days where I feel like i need a sleep during the day but I ussually avoid these urges and they are becoming few and far between.

I have some night work coming up so hopefully I will be able to keep my sleeping habits healthy to ensure that I am able to stay alert for work!



 

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Exploring avenues of entering employment

Today both Garry and I contacted Blue Jay. Blue Jay Foundation supports paid work experience for people with Asperger's Syndrome. We are involved in Autism Advocacy and are especially interested in gaining meaningful employment for those who are on the Autism Spectrum.

In our Autism Advocacy work we focus on the abilities and strengths as we believe that these out-way the difficulties that Aspies face. We are currently investigating options and opportunities to find suitable employment for Aspies that are looking and willing to work.

Other ways we are looking to assist other Aspies in the social group that I am involved in include providing access to reliable and accurate information that will assist Aspies that are looking for work. We also want to assist Aspies in the interview process and we intend to provide them with interview training sessions, and self esteem raising exercises. We believe that it is important to hone in on these skills to increase the chances of Adults gaining employment and this will in turn  increase their quality of life both financially and socially.


Wednesday, 17 July 2013

An insight into the challenges of gaining employment.

I begin this blog by writing a post about employment as an adult on the Autism Spectrum.  Recently I have completed a Certificate in Mental Health First Aid. I believe that this is important for everyone to do this course as 1 in 5 Australians will have a mental illness¹.   In a couple of weeks I commence a job in a retail outlet. I haven't been working since the start of the year, so starting this job will be a challenge.  The job is roughly for 6 weeks and I am hoping to move to Brisbane to assist with the adult group there run by another Aspie Garry Burge.

 I believe I have determination and am reliable with several courses I have completed. I have also run my own business and have self determination.

Time management is something which I adhere to and believe is important within a work environment.  By reading this blog it is my intention to assist other adults like myself to better grasp the employment process.  It is also hoped that I can demonstrate that it is possible for an Aspie with positive attributes like my own to gain a foot into meaningful employment

I know that obtaining employment can be difficult but not impossible and if the right approach is taken which I demonstrate, then a positive future may exist for other adults on the Autism Spectrum.

What would be good to see is a means of providing support and assistance for adults on the Autism Spectrum to obtain employment.  In my own situation I have a strong commitment to work but what I find difficult is the application process as tends to focus more on social ability more so than practical skills and performance.
Breaking free of the barriers of employment