Breaking New Ground

Breaking New Ground

On the 19th of February 2015, Auticulture Network secured its first donation of land thanks to the generosity of Anna and Fiona at Gartnavel Royal Hospital in Glasgow. This significant show of trust and support is the beginning of what is hoped to be a very busy growing space over the year ahead, to be recorded on this site which in turn will become a new hub for inspiration, self discovery and self-empowerment.

Beyond all that we hope to facilitate a means by which all people with an autistic spectrum condition  can enjoy new ways of demonstrating to themselves and the rest of the world just how good life can be and how much we are able to contribute, using our very many special abilities.  We can break down barriers in our own thinking and limitations, social experiences and in the way we express ourselves – just by setting a good example and coming to know the most freely available resource around us – nature.

You never know, someone might just listen!  look here – someone listened to us and we have a set of keys to show what we can achieve.  Next Thursday we should get our next set of keys for our second site where people near to that location can become the next link in our network of discovery and hope.  Improving environmental health for all and changing opinions – think about it…

We even want those close to us to have a go with their own gardening sessions, so they can relax and enjoy a new perspective on life.

Understand nature, understand life

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Living the Fenner Brockway

A Man at Peace

A Man at Peace

Fenner Brockway was a man prepared to meet the personal cost of speaking out to uphold personal principles and 2015 will mark 30 years since his death.  In the UK, today, the appalling treatment of NHS whistleblowers is in the news.  I know from personal experience that this is the tip of the iceberg, hiding the much wider scale of staff abuse within the so-called ‘care industry’.

From my own perspective, voicing concerns comes from a conscious willingness to hold to account those who make promises without ever having any honest intention of meeting them, combined with an innate, autistic naive belief that they really want to hear constructive criticism and make things right.

Management teams are often supported by systems designed to help them maintain the pretence that all is as it should be while the vulnerable they are charged with protecting are left bereft at the realisation that those they trusted will silence their concerns.  It can take a while to make that discovery and for the most vulnerable, it may never happen.

So, if these management teams are so proud of their work, they will have no fear of staff approaching them with concerns about common practices and staff will have no fear of fulfilling their duty in reporting these concerns.  Grievance procedures will be followed with integrity and monitored by an independent observer and local politics will play no part in proceedings. Continue reading

Sit Down, Stand up.

'A great fighter for liberation of humanity'

‘A great fighter for liberation of humanity’

 

During the last century, when I moved up to ‘big school’ (as it was termed) we had a headmaster who spoke a great deal of setting a personal, good example to others.

He had been orphaned when quite young and, indeed, had done well to reach an esteemed position of trust and influence. The school grew and, accordingly, so did his remuneration. He told us about his big house, lay preaching and general superiority in face of adversity. A very proud man. We didn’t like him but that didn’t matter, he liked himself enough for all of us. Continue reading

Happy new same old?

Stand up from the crowdI know a man on the spectrum who takes a week’s holiday, each year, and spends a couple of months beforehand and about a week afterwards being anxious and very unsettled about the change in his routine. So, after having it pointed out to me how I might find the stress of Christmas difficult to cope with, I recognised that, indeed, I do and always have done.  I’m not alone in that. Now we have a new year to contend with.

We have a new month, every month but that slips by as quietly as the time does but the focus on January and the traditionally inclement weather can give it an air of foreboding.  It was helpful to realise that my stress was more to do with the change in behaviour of the world around me than in myself. Look at Black Friday as a taste of what was to come – and there was I merrily pootling along through all the neurotic neurotypicals, feeling glad to be giving it a miss.

If I’m ever to be found playing tug-of-war for a still expensive bit of end of line stock, then by all means question my behaviour. It should be questioned. But it’s ‘what people do’ so it will pass by the composure register. Continue reading

HOW TO: Get Out Of This Life Alive…Part 1.

Clear way forward

Clear way forward

Or: Beat The Bullies

One thing that’s guaranteed to evoke a negative response is to have a fair point and to express it. Wow, who needs fireworks? Some of us genuinely can’t help but to keep making that same mistake, over again, but having learned how pained and lonely that can leave you, I’m beginning to see the benefits.

Why be daunted by those little cliques that feel the need to form in self-defence? When you demonstrate the strength to follow your own path, they just become the nasty little weeds along the way to be trodden down.

They need to combine all their joint forces in order to try and combat – you! That’s clearly a group to which you can have no real desire to belong. It will be painful to see how many people you’ve admired walk away from you, but that pain is only masking the success you are achieving, so, off with that mask too. Continue reading

Charity Begins At Home

Give and take weathers the storm...

Give and take weathers the storm…

You just never know what turn of events is in store for you or how fragile is the life you believe to be set in stone, never to change. Years ago I was at school with someone who thought it was fun to emulate physical disabilities in a mocking style. There were those around him who would laugh out of fear of not being in the ‘right’ crowd.

 

It has always baffled me why anyone should have any quandary over aligning with such behaviour but then, being part of any crowd has never been a draw for me, and observing such sheep-like stupidity (apologies to sheep and other victims of stereotyping) was never likely to change my mind.

 

The last I heard, He was quadriplegic, following a motorcycle accident. The person who told me didn’t know if he had any level of awareness – now. They were more concerned about the drama of the news. Continue reading

You; Man; Nature

Nature in a new light

Nature in a new light

I’m at my happiest when enveloped within the natural environment that, once, was all our ancestors knew. It was there, pending our efforts to control and manipulate it. Now, the ‘norm’ of control and manipulation is the thing I seek to escape, and the natural environment is the place that offers me the comfort and safety I knew as a child in the protective hug of my Mother’s arms.

I am in awe of the infinite sources of inspiration that nature provides. I have met few people who have truly inspired me, but of those that have, it has been their setting of an example that has shown me something worth considering, perhaps a behaviour worth adopting. I have had an alternative perspective demonstrated that, naturally, made me stop, think, consider and then act. That is rare. That is what makes it valuable.

So rather than get locked down into the disappointment I feel in the majority of people I meet, I’ve come to realise that’s just the way it is and I’ll look for my solace in the amazing power of nature’s offerings far more often than I will among people. In nature it’s there in abundance.

 

Continue reading

Follow My Leader?

Does our tough-man ‘Cambo’ lead by example? Does he want us to do as he does and not just as he says?

Well, if so and you get a bill that you’ve agreed terms on but now just don’t fancy paying – simply don’t. It’s fine, Cambo says so and is setting the example he wants us to follow.

If you can’t pay, because of a change of circumstances – say our leaders mucked up everyone’s plans for life – well then you’ll be fined, gaoled and stigmatised, but just get a bit miffy and you’ll look like you have principles.

Isn’t that the sort of scenario that goes through your head between the first and second sounding of the alarm clock on a morning? Weird, unsettling but containing a modicum of reality somewhere? Continue reading

Con Text

I read a report on BBC News website today. It told of a teenager who murdered his girlfriend. Now, news like that is bad enough but with so much of it competing for attention it must be hard for any reporter not to just report the facts but to ‘build added interest and intrigue’, perhaps by an innuendo, suggestion or by building a matter of concern. Trouble is, there are people out there who will become afraid on the basis of remarks like:

‘Told to kill’

‘The teenager, who had been diagnosed as having an autistic syndrome, told his family that a voice in his head named Ed told him to kill someone.’

An autistic syndrome. Really?

A few months ago I contacted Sherrif Brown whose widely reported delicate and considered comments after a shooting and suicide were:

‘”It is very, very apparent that he was severely mentally disturbed. It’s obviously the work of a madman,” he added.

In a so-called manifesto which had been published online, Rodger – who suffered from Asperger’s – said he had been born in London…’

Well, there we are. Conclusive proof that any prejudice against anyone with an ‘autistic syndrome’, a computer and who comes from London must be about to shoot you if you look at them a bit funny, must be justifiable to ‘normal’ people. Hmmm. No.

Where are these ‘normal’ people?

Oh, I see them. They’re the one’s committing the rest of the vile acts being reported elsewhere, and even more frequently, not being reported because a surprising amount of it is accepted as – you guessed – normal.

There are facts and there’s context. There is chalk and there is cheese. There is reporting and there is selling a story.

By the way, the Sherriff did respond, eventually. He spoke of his close experience of Asperger Syndrome (which worried me more)… and asked for my vote in the forthcoming election. If only I could have emigrated to America in time I could have cast my vote for – anyone else.

Virtual Reality

In our target-driven, new and constantly improved society, where can we find traces of humanity? Does the preponderance of charities mean we are a more altruistic society or that the tax advantages of passing off as a charity are being manipulated purely for commercial gain and jobs for the ‘family’?

 

Care is measured in minutes, pounds and pence while the real cost to the human existence is immeasurable, lost and echoing in the distance like those who depend on it having worked for it all their lives. Goalposts are moved. Promises are no longer deliverable. Justice is lost within the Law and truth is lost within the words, twisted, bent and fed back to fan the smoke and mirrors life we have all chosen democratically.

 

Objection handling and tenuous justifications mask real human interaction but every now and again you may just encounter a view that takes your breath away, or a sunset, a look of understanding, humility or a smile. These are the oases that help me to step my way through the minefield of superficiality when I’m too tired to be amused by the ridiculousness of normality.

 

I look at the world today and think of the ancient civilisations and how they must have been so confident in the way they had advanced only to then disappear. I feel that is the way we are heading, towards self-destruction in the pursuit of the pretense of perfection, mutated ideals and sugar-coated ‘benefits’. Bigger, louder, brighter, better. The constant goal of ‘more now’ can never fulfill but to stop, look around and seek fulfillment in what really is here, now might just deliver something meaningful.

 

A lady told me recently, that she believed that autism was the next evolutionary leap. I didn’t know what to say. It would be a more straight-forward, sincere and honest world, I think, but that could be achieved now. Instead, we glance at the news programmes like some juicy episode of one of the soaps and soon forget that these are real lives. I can’t help but face the intermittently brutal and beautiful realities of life as it is, but despite all that I’m generally considered to be a game ‘boy’.