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Parents Help Downs Couple Find Love

February 15, 2019

A couple who both have Down’s syndrome have spoken about how their relationship has thrived thanks to the support of their families.

Alison Williams, 35, and Michael Gallagher, 31, from Anglesey, have been together for 12 years after meeting at a sports club.

Support group Mencap Cymru said people with learning disabilities have the right to meaningful relationships.

It urged carers to help them and not to be “frightened”.


All Health And Care Staff To Have Compulsory Autism Training

February 14, 2019

The Government has today published its proposals to introduce mandatory autism and learning disability training to all health and care staff in England. This is a very welcome move that could mean that all NHS staff have the training they need to support autistic people, finally living up to duties in the Autism Act.

The Government has launched an eight-week consultation on their plans and is seeking the views of autistic people, their families, charities and professionals, including health and care staff.

Tell the Government what you think


The proposals honour a commitment made by the Minister for Care, Caroline Dinenage MP, back in November 2018, during a debate in Parliament. The debate was organised in response to a petition started by Paula McGowan, following the tragic death of her son Oliver in November 2016. Thousands of autistic people and their families backed this petition, along with organisations like our charity.

Autistic people continue to face unacceptable health inequalities. Despite requirements in the Autism Act statutory guidance that all health and care staff have appropriate autism training, this training does not happen enough in practice – with serious consequences. 

But to have the impact that we all want, the legal requirements that the Government has published must be enforced and monitored.

According to a 2016 Public Health England survey, just 17% of areas report having an autism training plan for all health and care staff, and 10% have no plan at all. We believe that the training programme that Paula and the 50,000 people who signed her petition have been calling for could end this unacceptable situation.

We will be responding to this important consultation and we hope that as many autistic people and their families as possible have their say as well. The consultation is open until 12 April.


Jane Harris, Director of External Affairs at the National Autistic Society, said: “This new mandatory autism training for all health and care staff in England could improve the health or even save the lives of hundreds of thousands of autistic people.
“Too often doctors, nurses and other professionals don’t understand how autistic people communicate or how bright lights or noisy places can stop people getting the care they need. As a result people sometimes don’t get health treatments they desperately need or get the wrong treatments or support. 
“This public consultation is an important step towards ending the health inequalities autistic people face, finally living up to the duties in the Autism Act. It is the result of tireless efforts by campaigners like Paula McGowan, whose autistic son tragically died in hospitals in 2016. We pay tribute to her campaign for mandatory training. 
“The training will only work if it’s shaped by the experiences of autistic people and their families, so we’re pleased that the Government is consulting. We encourage as many autistic people and families to respond as possible.”

Minister for Care Caroline Dinenage, said: “It’s simply unacceptable that the lives of autistic people or those with a learning disability are being cut short in part because of barriers in accessing healthcare that most of us take for granted.

“Our plans to introduce mandatory training for all relevant health and care staff will help them to ensure more people receive the safe, compassionate and informed care that they are entitled to.”

Dame Cheryl Gillan, MP, said: “As chair of All-Party Parliamentary Group on Autism, I welcome this initiative as it is an ambition that all public facing staff will understand and be able to help people with a learning disability or, in particular, autism. I would encourage people to contribute to this excellent consultation.”

Tell the Government what you think

Keeping Fit When You’re In A Wheelchair

February 13, 2019

Amelia Taylor-Ash has spina bifida and has always struggled keeping fit and keeping her weight down.

Now she trains at the gym with personal trainer Joe and isn’t looking back.

Deaf Children Fall Behind At School Says Charity

February 13, 2019

Deaf children in England are falling behind their classmates from primary school through to GCSE, analysis by the National Deaf Children’s Society shows.

Only 30.6% achieve a GCSE strong pass – Grade 5 or above – in both English and maths, compared with 48.3% of children with no special educational needs.

And 57% fail to reach expected levels in reading, writing and maths in Sats tests at the end of primary, compared with 26% of children with no SEN.

The NCDS urges more government funding.

Its analysis of government data suggests the average Attainment 8 score (how well pupils do across eight core subjects) for deaf children was 39.2 – but for those with no SEN, the average was 49.8.

‘A crying shame’

Ann Jillings, from Lowestoft, in Suffolk, says the only reason her 12-year-old deaf son, Daniel, is not falling behind at school is because the family has fought hard for additional support.

“Sometimes I’ve been quite dogged in making sure that Daniel’s [education, health and care] plan reflected what he needed – it takes a certain amount of stubbornness and perseverance to navigate the system,” she says.

“I can see my child is very able – he wants to go to university – and I’ve vowed there’s no way I’m going to let him be let down by the system.

“But I do fear for about what happens to the children whose parents aren’t as well informed or who don’t have the ability to fight so hard for their children.”

Ann says making sure Daniel doesn’t slip behind his classmates at his mainstream school is a constant worry.

“We can never take our eye off the ball,” she says.

“Even though something’s in the education plan, we always have to make sure it’s being delivered.

“Why should there be a ceiling on their potential just because they’re deaf?

“Deaf children have the same potential as their peers and it’s a crying shame if they don’t achieve that – it’s their long-term employment, it’s not just now, it’s their whole lifetime.”

Chief executive of the NDCS, Susan Daniels, said: “These figures show the true depth of the crisis engulfing deaf education in this country.

“Meanwhile, the government is starving local councils of funding, meaning their support is cut back and their specialist teachers are being laid off.

“The government needs to address the gap in results urgently and begin to adequately fund the support deaf children need.

“It promised every child in this country a world class education, but until deaf and hearing children progress and achieve at the same level, it is failing to deliver and that is utterly unacceptable.”

A spokeswoman for the Department for Education said: “Our ambition for children with special educational needs and disabilities, including those who are deaf, is exactly the same for every other child – to achieve well in education, and go on to live happy and fulfilled lives.

“We recognise that local authorities are facing cost pressures on high needs and that there is more to do which is why in December 2018 we announced an additional £250m in funding for high needs over this and next year.”

Nurses, Physios And Paramedics Being Recruited As Assessors With This Email

February 13, 2019

With thanks to Gail Ward, who shared on Facebook.

“This is a copy of an email which has been sent to registered Nurses , Physiotherapists and Ambulance staff . The DWP are trying to recruit them as PiP assessors for UC. They are offering £ 43,000 basic plus loads of add ons including free company car , guaranteed 9-5 , 5 days a week with PRIVATE health care and bonuses. They offer 15 weeks training on full pay ( during which time they turn hard up Nurses into killing machines for the Tory DWP. ) Every Nurse on LinkedIn is being sent this email. These monstrous Torys are taking much needed and poorly paid staff from our NHS to do their killing with the DWP. Please read this and share it widely .”


James O’Brien Told By Doctor: People Can’t Afford Bus Fare To Go To Foodbanks

February 13, 2019

A heartbroken doctor has told James O’Brien that some of his patients are so poor, they can’t even afford the bus fare to get to the food bank.

Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd said yesterday that the increased use of food banks is partly down to problems in rolling out universal credit.

James O’Brien was discussing how universal credit has affected poor people in the UK and that’s when he got a call from James in Manchester.

He told LBC: “I’m a hospital doctor and I get patients coming in all the time who are asking me for help. They can’t work because of their medical condition – they have come to me for that.

“They can’t afford they money to get themselves to a food bank. They can’t afford the transport fare, be it the bus or whatever.

“They also can’t get the money to get the transport to come to their medical appointments to see us for us to try to help them.

“I will be sat there for 45 minutes in a 10-minute appointment trying to help them. We don’t know what to do.

“If they can’t afford to come to our appointments, we discharge them from our clinic and then that delays they getting back to work.”

James was shocked by what he heard, responding: “You’re talking about a person who can’t scrape together a tram fare to get to a food bank.

“That’s 19th-century.”

Getting A Human To Play A Disabled Person Is Not Too Much To Ask

February 12, 2019

There are some ideas that should never get past the brainstorming stage. All in a Row, a new play about autism at the Southwark Playhouse, London, is under fire for reportedly using a puppet to play the part of an autistic child, with the National Autistic Society pulling its support for the production. It doesn’t help that the puppet is grey and mawkish, with earlier versions appearing more suited to a horror movie.

It would be easy to dismiss this row as another example of our online offence culture, but it goes to the heart of the dehumanisation that disabled people face – quite literally by representing us as other than human. It is particularly damaging here because of stereotypes of autism, which characterise neurodiverse individuals as unfeeling and with no autonomy.

A spokesman for the play said it was “untenable” to get autistic performers to play the part, and that there are clearly difficulties with casting children – and getting “informed consent from a nonverbal autistic actor aged 11 to play the role”. But theatre should use art to push boundaries. Casting some of the non-disabled characters as puppets would have been more thought-provoking. Sesame Street recently introduced an autistic character, Julia, played by a brightly coloured puppet, surrounded by fellow puppets. It is a punch to the stomach to watch all the non-disabled parts in All in a Row played by actors, while the one disabled character is an inanimate figure pulled by strings.

This is a real missed opportunity when the playwright has talked of wanting to challenge ideas about disability. At a time when the casting of non-disabled actors in disabled roles is criticised, it seems a grotesquely backwards step. Getting a human to play a disabled person is not too much to ask.