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Quadruple Amputee Alex Lewis Climbs Ethiopian Mountain

November 7, 2019

His ambition was to climb one of Africa’s tallest mountains, despite having lost all four of his limbs and Alex Lewis is a man of his word.

Six years ago Alex caught a cold that led to a life-threatening illness, multiple amputations and an infection that also affected his face.

In defiance of his physical condition, the 39-year-old from Stockbridge in Hampshire, has continued to push his own limits and been involved in ground-breaking projects.

He says he pushes himself to show his eight-year-old son Sam that his disability never stopped him doing the things he wanted.

But reaching the summit of the 4,550m tall Ras Dashen in Ethiopia, using a specially-adapted buggy, proved to be a new level of challenge.


Mandatory Autism And LD Training After Teen’s Death

November 6, 2019

Readers, for a few days, I will only be posting links with relevant titles. This is due to not having access to a computer. I will still do my best to bring you content.

Tories Back Candidate Who Said Benefits Claimants Should Be ‘Put Down’

November 6, 2019

The work and pensions secretary has come under fire for backing a Tory candidate in a marginal seat who wrote on social media that people on the reality TV programme Benefits Street needed “putting down”.

The Conservative party has refused calls to drop Francesca O’Brien, who is standing in a key target seat in Gower, south Wales, despite anger after her Facebook comments were exposed by the Guardian.

Thérèse Coffey, the minister in charge of the country’s benefits system, said it was a “matter for the people of Gower” on whether O’Brien should be the constituency’s next MP.

In posts unearthed by the Guardian that have since been deleted, O’Brien, 32, wrote in January 2014: “Benefit Street..anyone else watching this?? Wow, these people are unreal!!!” Advertisement

In response to a friend’s comment, she wrote: “My blood is boiling, these people need putting down.” In further comments under her post, O’Brien apparently endorsed a friend’s suggestion for “twat a tramp Tuesday” to “take your batts [sic] to the streets”.

Asked whether O’Brien should be a candidate given her comments, Coffey told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “What she said is clearly wrong, clearly wrong. I’m led to believe it was early in 2014. I don’t know Francesca at all.

“She has apologised I’ve been told, that is important. And I recognise that these comments are not ones with which I would associate myself in any way.”

Pressed again on whether she should be standing, Coffey added: “I think that will be a decision for the people of Gower to make the choice on who they want to be their next member of parliament.”

A spokesman for the Conservatives confirmed the party was standing by O’Brien despite her comments prompting widespread outrage.

The Labour party’s chair, Ian Lavery, said: “Removing a candidate who used such vile language about people on benefits should be a no-brainer.

“The cuts to benefits and universal credit programme that Thérèse Coffey and her party are responsible for have forced people into poverty.

“It is shameful that Boris Johnson is allowing Francesca O’Brien to stand for his party in Gower. This reveals the Conservatives’ contempt for the less well-off.”

Benefits Street, which highlighted the lives of benefits claimants on a road in Birmingham, prompted controversy when it aired in 2014. The programme attracted 4 million viewers but also more than 100 complaints to regulator Ofcom of unfair, misleading and offensive portrayals of benefits claimants, alleged criminal activity and excessive bad language.

After being approached by the Guardian, O’Brien – who was selected last month in an open primary – apologised for the comments which she said were “off the cuff”. She added: “These comments were made off the cuff, a number of years ago. However, I accept that my use of language was unacceptable and I would like to apologise for any upset I have caused.”

Gower was won by Labour by little more than 3,000 votes at the 2017 general election and is a key marginal that the Conservatives will be targeting. It was won by the Tories in 2015 by just 27 votes.

Paddy McGuinness Rails At Disabled Parking Space ‘Ignorance’

November 5, 2019

Top Gear presenter Paddy McGuinness has spoken about the anger he felt after a stranger questioned why he had parked in a space reserved for the disabled.

The TV star, whose six-year-old twins Leo and Penelope have autism, said he was dropping his children off at a play centre when the man approached.

McGuinness admitted wanting to “bounce [him] off every car” but instead opted to “handle the situation calmly”.

“I tried to explain to him that not all disabilities are the same,” he tweeted.

“The ignorance and sheer pomposity of telling someone they don’t look disabled really makes my blood boil,” he continued.

“If you ever find yourself in a similar situation, stay calm, take the deep breath and educate the ignorant,” he wrote.

McGuinness and his wife Christine revealed their twins have autism in 2017. They also have a three-year-old daughter, Felicity, who was born in 2016.

Last year the Take Me Out host revealed he and Christine had finally managed to have a family holiday for the first time in four-and-a-half years.

Speaking on BBC Breakfast on Monday, Christine McGuinness revealed she faced situations like the one her husband wrote about “every weekend”.

“I try and educate people as much as I can,” she said. “I’ll take any opportunity to tell people about autism, because it’s the only way we can help people understand.”

Mrs McGuinness said it felt “awful” to have to explain the nature of her children’s disability and that it was “difficult enough” without having to deal with situations like the one her husband described.

“I would expect adults to understand a little bit more,” she went on, calling for people to be “a little bit more kind and polite”.

The National Autistic Society said the incident McGuinness described was “another example of how far we have to go before autistic people are understood and accepted in society”.

“Only 16% of autistic ppl [people] feel the public understand them in a meaningful way,” they tweeted after McGuinness, an ambassador for the charity, made his experiences public.

Airport Type Security At PIP Tribunals

November 4, 2019

To attend my PIP tribunal I had to pass through airport-type security. A guard checked my bag, lurking within which was my deadly knitting (a jumper for my grandson). This was confiscated and I was given a receipt. Then a bottle of water was discovered, cleverly concealed on the top of my bag. It could only be returned to me if I took a large swig, and presumably did not keel over having ingested some noxious substance. It took me quite a while to recover from all this.

It also took a while to recover my knitting – mercifully intact.
Mo Hutchison
Maidstone, Kent

A Letter To… My Daughter Who Has 47 Chromosomes

November 4, 2019

Almost 30 years ago, you exploded into our lives. Exploded is an appropriate term because we had no warning about your condition. It is fair to say that I was devastated. I felt I had been catapulted into a world in which I did not want to belong.

My early memories of that time are painful. I remember a nursing assistant in the hospital picking you up from your cot without permission and announcing, “Ooh, I love Down’s babies!” Well-wishers looked at me pitifully as they asked, “Didn’t you have the test?”

They were dark times and it was not an easy transition, but your older sister, who was two when you were born, welcomed and adored you. Your younger brother was born two years later and then, after three more years, there was another sister for you. Family life was chaotic. There were a lot of fun times, but also embarrassment and frustration, such as the time you took off your clothes in a department store, or flushed your sister’s makeup down the toilet.

Your learning disability is such that you have no spontaneous language and require 24-hour supervision and support. Your additional needs demand a rigid structure and routine.

Your brother and sisters have now grown up and live in their own homes. Your dad and I got divorced, an unfortunate casualty, in part, of the pressures of raising a disabled child. You are living with me, still enjoying Postman Pat and Disney.

I wonder how you make sense of all the changes? I know your quiet acceptance masks a much deeper understanding of human nature than any of us could hope to achieve. Your dad and I enjoy a good relationship now and he continues to be a big part of your life. Your siblings are always popping in for an audience, and an essential hug from you. You say little, but your presence is immense. You are their counsellor and their mentor. For them, you reinforce the essential simplicities of life, things we often lose in the chaos and mundanity of everyday existence.

The positive contribution you have brought to our lives is immeasurable, and that extra chromosome I so despised in the early days of your life is now revered, with gratitude, as an integral feature of the wonderful person to whom it belongs: you.

You are the glue that binds our unique, amazing family together. I feel privileged to be your mum.

Parents Call For End To Human Rights Abuse Of Autistic Young People In MH Units

November 1, 2019

The human rights of many young people with learning disabilities and autism in mental health hospitals in England are being breached, MPs and peers say.

The Joint Committee on Human Rights says hospitals can inflict “terrible suffering on those detained… causing anguish to their distraught families”.

Its report urges an overhaul of mental health law and hospital inspections.

“It must not be allowed to continue,” said Harriet Harman, who chairs the committee.

By law, young people with learning disabilities or autism detained in mental health hospitals must have treatment that is necessary, appropriate and available.

But the inquiry, launched in January, heard evidence of “a significant increase in distress and a worsening of symptoms for those detained, particularly where segregation and restraint have been used”.

“We are concerned that a very broad approach has been taken to the ‘appropriate medical treatment’ requirement… and the approach appears to be that the most basic provision of care satisfies this test,” the committee says.

“We consider the human rights of many of those with a learning disability and/or autism are being breached in mental health hospitals.”

‘Bone snapped’

One young man told the inquiry: “I did not know what was happening.

“Looking back at it now, it does not feel real. It feels like some sort of nightmare.

“It was not a safe place. It was not a treatment room. I got no assessment or treatment done.

“There was no care. I was just put in this room and I lay there and went to sleep.”

Another had his arm broken in a restraint, according to his mother. “His arm was wrenched up behind his back until the bone snapped. He was not then taken to accident and emergency for 24 hours even though his arm was completely swollen,” she said.

Another mother said her son had been kept in isolation for up to nine hours at a time.

“The rule was that he could not leave until he was quiet,” she told the inquiry.

“With his anxiety and sensory presentation, there was no way this was possible.

“He started to bang his head against the wall and would bite the wood in the doorframe out of desperation.”

Too often, families are excluded from decision-making and when they try to intervene are viewed as hostile and a problem, which is unacceptable, the report says.

Families must be recognised as “human-rights defenders”, it says.

The committee says it has “lost confidence that the system is doing what it says doing”, while the regulator, which should be a “bulwark” against abuses, is failing and in urgent need of reform.

“Too often it is left to the media to be human rights defenders,” the report says, highlighting work by the BBC’s Panorama programme in uncovering abuse of patients by staff at Whorlton Hall mental-health hospital.

‘Stark clarity’

The MPs and peers also say they have no confidence government targets to reduce the number of people with learning disabilities or autism in mental-health hospitals will be met.

They demand:

  • a special No 10 unit to safeguard the human rights of young people with learning disabilities and autism
  • an overhaul of inspections, to include covert surveillance and unannounced visits at night and weekends
  • only individuals who will benefit from treatment are detained in mental hospital
  • families are fully involved in decisions

“This inquiry has shown with stark clarity the urgent change that is needed and we’ve set out simple proposals for exactly that,” Ms Harman said.

“They must be driven forward urgently.”

Ian Trenholm, chief executive of the Care Quality Commission, which regulates health and social care services in England, said many of the report’s recommendations relating to the watchdog were already under way, “although we are clear there is much still to be done”.

Mr Trenholm said an independent review of the CQC’s regulation of mental health hospitals had been commissioned and the findings would be used to strengthen this work.

“We know we need to improve how we regulate mental health, learning disability and/or autism services so we can get better at spotting poor care and at using the information people give us,” he said.

“We are working hard to improve and we want to involve people, families, carers and stakeholder organisations to ensure we get it right.”