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

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!