Posted by James Saunders (via Facebook) on 29th April 2008
Archive for April, 2008
Posted by James Saunders (via Facebook) on 24th April 2008
Posted by James Saunders on 14th April 2008
This June, me and a bunch of my Virgin Media colleagues will be swapping our keyboards and desks for the great outdoors. We ‘think’ we are fit and therefore have decided to take the challenge to climb 3 of the UK’s tallest mountains, Ben Nevis (1,344m), Scafell Pike (978m) and Snowdon (1,085m). Oh yeah, and we thought we would try and scale these 3 mountains in just 24 hours too!
We are not just doing this to prove to ourselves that we are on top of form, nor just to bag three more trig points, but the primary reason we are doing this is to raise money for charity. Last year the team raised £2375.46 for Great Ormond Street Hospital and Motor Neurone Disease. This year we are combining our efforts with 35 other competing teams to focus all our fundraising efforts for a charity called the Foyer Federation, an organisation which helps homeless young people regain their full potential so they can begin to build a life for themselves. More information about the charity and the event can be found here.
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Please dig deep - we are climbing 3 mountains in 24 hours after all!
“The balloons only have one life and the only way of finding out whether they work is to attempt to fly around the world.” –Sir Richard Branson
Posted by James Saunders (via Facebook) on 5th April 2008
Posted by James Saunders on 2nd April 2008
Today is World Autism Awareness Day, a day which aims to challenge us to “think differently about autism”. This remindes me about a blog entry I wanted to write about something that opened my eyes recently after reading a magazine article and watching a collection of online video blogs made by an autistic lady.
I have worked in the past with Autistic Children in a previous job I had as a carer in 2005. In this job I learnt a great deal about the different ways in which we can communicate with Autistic children using picture and coloured cards. I have also seen first hand the frustration that can be experienced by both carer and autistic child when they are unable to communicate because they are almost talking a different ‘language’.
The magazine article in Wired Magazine (March 2008 Issue) posed a couple of thought provoking questions about how autism should not be considered a disease, how we should not have the rite to try and ‘fix’ autism and whether autism should be accepted as another part of ‘the variety of life’. Why should we put down a person for failing to speak our language or conform to our ‘normal’ ways while we fail to try and learn the “native language” of an autistic person?
The article goes on to discuss the problems with traditional intelligence tests written in ‘our language’. In the past many Autistic people were considered to have low I.Q. because they could not understand what was being asked of them. It has recently been realised that quite a number of autistic people have small areas of increased ability (mathematics, memory, problem solving) but these have been undetected due to shortfalls in the methods we use to measure intelligence. We would not consider a blind person as unintelligent just because they are unable to respond to a set of written questions, yet we label autistics as lacking brainpower because they can not express what they know, or in a way we can understand.
Following reading the article I then went on to watch a couple of YouTube videos created by an Autistic lady called Amanda Baggs (aka ’silentmiaow’) showing how she communicates with the world. The first of the videos called ‘In My Language’ started off with a woman rocking back and forth, flapping her hands and chanting an spooky hum, going on to stroke and rub her face on various objects. The video then cuts to a translation describing what is going on inside Amanda’s head as she carries out these seemingly bizarre actions. The second video, ‘Disability Characteristics and Political Correctness’, is a commentary by Amanda describing her past as a child, tortured because she was different and her upset of people now walking on egg-shells around her. What is amazing is how Amanda creates these videos, she does not talk but instead uses a computer synthesized voice, splicing together lots of small video clips. From first impressions you would never have guessed that this lady was capable of creating and publishing such content.
Watching these two videos and reading this article certainly changed the way in which I now look at autism and I really hope that you will also watch these videos and that they too will challenge you to “think differently about autism”.
“If Amanda Baggs had walked into my clinic five years ago, I would have said she had significant cognitive impairment. And I would have been wrong.” –Thomas Zeffiro, Neuroscientist