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THE ROYAL PARKS HALF MARATHON 2018 LONDON IS DONE…THANKS TO ALL OF YOU WHO SUPPORTED ME FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART.

0 Comments | This entry was posted on Oct 15 2018

I really struggled yesterday for various reasons but I did it!  Here are some photos of me dancing wildly with my medal  – very happy in the knowledge that I have raised nearly £5,000!  Every penny of which will go to brave families with autistic children.  Lx 8e5af00b-f183-42e0-b42f-a5284c7e57a1 happy in the knowledge that I raised nearly £5,000 for all of the brave families with autistic children Lx Read more »

ROYAL PARKS HALF IS THIS WEEKEND -click on link for latest news on Lucinda and new photos!

0 Comments | This entry was posted on Oct 09 2018

https://bit.ly/2CwEjmZ

http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fredfoundation

Fred’s mum training in wild Co. Donegal for The Royal Parks Half https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fredfoundation…last big run before the big day. 2hrs 20. Done

0 Comments | This entry was posted on Oct 03 2018

PHOTO-2018-10-03-10-22-50PHOTO-2018-10-03-10-22-52PHOTO-2018-10-03-10-22-51PHOTO-2018-10-03-10-22-51 (1)PHOTO-2018-10-03-10-22-51

Lucinda is running the Royal Parks Half Marathon for The Fred Foundation on Sunday 14th October! Anything at all you can spare?

0 Comments | This entry was posted on Sep 24 2018

https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fredfoundation

“Across the country many autistic families are struggling as the extreme financial cuts in social care and education bite harder every day. Children and young people are not even getting the education the State is obliged to provide by law without a fight. Parents are often so worn-down by the day-to-day caring of their autistic children that they cannot fight a fight that often ends up in court”…please click my link below to read more Anything you can spare very gratefully received xx

UK.VIRGINMONEYGIVING.COM
Help Lucinda change the world! Make a donation now?

2017 Accounts

0 Comments | This entry was posted on Sep 09 2018

We have published our 2017 accounts which you may access below. If you have any queries please e mail

thefredfoundation@gmail.com

 

Signed accounts 2017

‘I WAS A CHILD CARER’ – When you are a carer, it can be hard to relate to your friends, with their “normal” lives. You have responsibilities. You have to grow up very quickly. “You can’t muck about and be so carefree.

0 Comments | This entry was posted on Jul 29 2018

‘I was a child carer – it made me who I am today’

Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett and her brother

From the age of 12, writer Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett helped look after her severely autistic brother. Like hundreds of thousands of other young carers, she took on major responsibilities early – but says it made her the person she is today.

Being a young carer makes you different from your friends. This is one of the first things that you learn. You visit their houses after school and notice how different their lives are from yours. Their houses seem tidy, quiet and peaceful.

Mine was the opposite.

My younger brother is severely autistic. He was diagnosed when he was four, but we knew there were issues before then.

Even as a baby, he wouldn’t stay still when you tried to hold him – my mum, Anna, said he was like an octopus wriggling in her arms.

As a toddler, he was hyperactive. He tore through our house, leaving chaos in his wake. He would climb furniture and banisters, empty cereal packets and cartons of orange juice on the floor, scribble on the walls.

Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett's brother

He didn’t sleep. He didn’t talk. We knew our lives would be changed by his autism, but we didn’t realise by how much.

I am six years older than my brother, and cared for him along with my mum until I left home in North Wales at 18 (my parents separated when I was 12).

It’s been estimated that 700,000 children and young people across the UK, some as young as five years old, are caring for family members. But the true number is likely to be much higher, as many are hidden from view.

I know what an isolating and difficult experience it can be – growing up, I had no idea there were so many other children out there in similar positions, caring for ill and disabled relatives.

When you are a carer, it can be hard to relate to your friends, with their “normal” lives.

You have responsibilities. You have to grow up very quickly. You can’t muck about and be so carefree.

Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett and her brother

I certainly didn’t misbehave – I felt that my mum, who did the lion’s share of the caring, had enough to deal with, without me being naughty as well. My brother barely slept and she was exhausted most of the time from getting up more than four times a night. I would care for him while she snatched an hour of sleep and, as I got older, for much longer stretches so that she could go to work or spend the evening with her then partner.

I did have moments where I felt quite separate from my classmates, who were still having their dinner cooked for them when I was preparing meals from scratch. On the other hand, being able to cook stood me in good stead in the long run, as did many other skills and traits I learned from being a carer – responsibility, compassion, empathy, selflessness, multi-tasking, patience and generosity.

A sense of humour was a must, especially when it came to toilet trouble. Mum and I cleared up enough poo for a lifetime (this may be why, at 31, I am still not sure how I feel about having children).

It taught me basic plumbing – give me some string and a coat-hanger and I can fix a broken toilet – but also how to laugh when you’re up the proverbial creek. You had to, because otherwise you would cry. Then again, we did lots of that too.

We had two floods and a fire, and endless weird and embarrassing moments. People loved my brother – he was a very cute child with a huge goofy smile and big blue eyes, but his behaviour was – how can I put it? – unpredictable.

Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett's brother

Sometimes when we were out and about he would take his clothes off and run around while we chased after him, waving his trousers desperately like a flag. He was always falling into lakes and rivers, or reaching into people’s bags of chips and plucking them out.

He had no sense of fear so you had to be hyper-alert. He once ran into a field with a bull, which was terrifying. Thankfully we got him out in time.

He also had tantrums in public and people would stare and make comments. I always confronted them when this happened – being a young carer made me quite feisty. I had a keen sense of injustice from a young age and that has translated into my journalism, particularly when it comes to the hardship and discrimination that disabled people often face.

Schoolwork was difficult as sleep was disrupted, and the house was really noisy all the time.

I learned how to concentrate even if all around me was total chaos. I developed a love of reading and tore through several library books a week. In a way, being a carer is what made me a writer. When things were difficult, I needed a way to escape, and reading provided that, but it also made me interested in people.

Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett and her brother

You learn so much about humanity when you are looking after someone vulnerable and you need empathy, a vital skill when it comes to creating your own characters.

Teachers didn’t always understand. I’m not surprised that Carers Trust Wales have found that many children who are carers are not known to local authorities. Adults often don’t think to ask, or when you try to explain why your homework is late, or indeed why you are, they will just say that you are making excuses. I’ll never forget the horrible reaction of an after-school drama teacher who refused to accept that I had missed a rehearsal because I had to look after my brother.

Nevertheless, for every nasty person there were many more kind ones.

I had a couple of close friends who lived nearby – Hannah and Kate – who have always been there, and would keep me company when I was on my own with my brother at home because mum had to work or pick up a prescription. (Hannah is now a mental health nurse and says her experience looking after my brother helped inspire her to pursue that career.)

As I grew older, I opened up to more friends about my home situation. They were all really supportive, treating my situation as though it were no different from anyone else’s. Sometimes people act as though they are uncomfortable around my brother because of his strange seeming mannerisms and noises, but they never did. They helped me realise that there is no such thing as a normal family.

My mum trusted me, and in many ways that worked out quite well – as long as I made sure my brother was OK, I could have people over and she could benefit from finally having a bit of a social life. Often friends would help put him to bed, and I remember being particularly touched to find my friend Sam reading him a bedtime story.

Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett's brother

Leaving home was hard. By that time, my brother was in a special school, staying overnight during the week and coming home at the weekends. Yet I still felt like I was abandoning my mum, who was finding it increasingly difficult to cope.

My brother had grown very big and strong and she couldn’t control him any more. He had also developed epilepsy, which needed careful management and supervision, and his obsessive-compulsive disorder meant that taking him outside was more and more difficult. She became very isolated.

I missed them both terribly, because although things had been hard at times, we were a family.

I cried for two weeks, and I think the sadness and the exhaustion are with me even now.

Although I have a good job and a happy life, there are some days where I still feel very low.

When my brother was nearly 15, things became so difficult for my mum that he went into school full-time. He is now 25 and lives in a care home. He is very happy there – his carers are brilliant, and I see him as much as I can for walks on the beach and trips out for lunch.

Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett and her brother

I am grateful for how lucky we are – not everyone receives such good government support. If the help hadn’t been there, I might never have left home. I certainly wouldn’t have gone to university or have established a career as a writer.

Whenever I meet young carers, I want to give them a hug and tell them that I know what they are going through.

They should be given more support – both practical and respite care. I certainly would have benefited from some counselling.

No child’s education should suffer because they are looking after a family member, they should be encouraged by adults, and given the help they need.

Sometimes I am asked if I wish my brother had been “normal”. It’s a strange question, because it’s essentially asking me if I wish he were a different person.

Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett's brother

Obviously, I wish that he did not have to suffer, which he does as a result of his epilepsy and anxiety. But I love my brother for who he is, and looking after him has been the defining experience of my life.

Caring has made me strong as well as sensitive. It has made me a kinder person and given me the motivation to fight for social justice. But most of all I feel lucky to have felt such profound, unconditional love for my little brother. That has been a gift.

HIDDEN LIVES – HAPPY FATHER’S DAY!

0 Comments | This entry was posted on Jun 17 2018

Anyone can be a father but to be a Dad to a severely autistic young person is quite something else.  So, to all the unsung heroes who care for autistic loved ones and especially to the Dads who care for profoundly autistic young people and never have a day off from worry or strain. HAPPY FATHER’S DAY.  We see you.

Renuke & friends at Spark Foundry UK supporting The Fred yet again! www.justgiving.com/fundraising/london2parisforfred

0 Comments | This entry was posted on May 21 2018

THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH FROM THE FRED!

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/london2parisforfred

The Hidden Lives of Siblings of Children with Disabilities’ – ‘WHAT ABOUT ME?’ By Avidan Milevsky Ph.D

0 Comments | This entry was posted on May 14 2018

“What about me?” Enhancing the Lives of Siblings of Children with Disabilities by Avidan Milevsky Ph.D

There is one member of the overall family system who has been neglected as part of the effort to attend to disability issues: namely, the siblings of those with disabilities. As I have argued in multiple venues, sibling issues in general is an area that has been neglected in research, application, and the law despite the fact that siblings play an integral role in the lives of people throughout life. This neglect of sibling issues is even starker when examining the attention given to siblings in overall disability services.

To begin shedding some light on this problem, allow me to present several common issues faced by siblings of children with disabilities:

SIBLINGS MAY DEVELOP MULTIPLE DIFFICULTIES

Siblings of children with disabilities are at a greater risk than average of developing emotional issues, anxiety, and stress. These problems are known as internalizing issues, not obviously visible, and may be an attempt by these siblings to hide their problems; they may want to be well-behaved or protect their already overburdened parents. Other issues that these siblings may face are peer problems, as well as a lack of engagement in extracurricular activities and academic issues as a result of limited time and money.

SIBLINGS BECOME OVERLY RESPONSIBLE AND INDEPENDENT

Considering the attention given to the child with the disability, siblings may neglect their own issues. In some cases, siblings experience parentification where they are expected to have many responsibilities for themselves and their sibling, developing duties similar to those of a parent and overlooking their need to act like children. This responsibility may seem positive to parents but may actually be precursors to emotional distress.

SIBLINGS MAY FEEL NEGLECTED BY PARENTS

The family focus on the child with the disability may take away from the attention desired by the sibling. Time spent on medical and therapyappointments for the child with the disability limits the amount of time parents can spend with the other siblings resulting in their feeling neglected. Furthermore, parents may spend a great deal of emotional energy on the child with the disability leaving little emotional energy to support the sibling.

SIBLINGS FEEL IN THE DARK FROM PARENTS AND SERVICE PROVIDERS

Siblings may have similar questions about the sibling with the disability as do parents but have little information or resources available to them. During doctor visits, they are often left in the waiting room. Parents may want to keep well siblings away from the treatment environment or may want to protect the privacy of the sibling with the disability leaving the well sibling feeling in the dark about what is going on with their sibling. They may have many unanswered questions about their sibling including whether their disability can be transmitted and what will be in the future. With little or no information, siblings may develop their own ideas about what is happening, often much worse than is actually true.

SIBLINGS EXPERIENCE MIXED EMOTIONS

Sibling may experience a range of emotions about their situation. They may feel guilt wondering if they caused the disability of their sibling or they may feel guilt about why the disability did not happen to them. They may feel fear about the health of their sibling or about what may happen to their sibling in the future. Siblings may also experience resentment, anger, or jealousy towards their sibling considering the attention and resources expensed on their sibling. An additional common feeling is embarrassmentas a result of the behaviors and appearance of their sibling. In some cases the embarrassment may be so great that they disassociate from the sibling with the disability. They may claim to be an only child or may not invite over friends so that they do not have to answer questions about their sibling.

SITUATION PROVIDES OPPORTUNITIES FOR SIBLINGS

Beyond what is known as the pathogenic perspective, which highlights the difficulties associated with having a sibling with a disability, this difficult circumstance may also offer some opportunities for siblings. These siblings often develop certain positive characteristics such as self-controlcooperationempathy, tolerance, altruism, maturity, and responsibility as a result of dealing with their family situation. They may develop loyalty and a protective attitude towards their sibling. In some cases these siblings use someone’s attitude about special needs as a test for screening friends and mates. Their involvement with their sibling may even lead them to choose future occupations in the helping professions.

I see first hand at my university the great strides that have been accomplished in offering an environment that offers everyone a chance to succeed regardless of limitations. I am inspired by the great work of our university’s office of disability services in caring for the needs of all students. This great work is being replicated in many industries and institutions across the country. Focusing on some of the unique issues faced by siblings of individuals with disabilities is an important step in the continuous work that is being done in disability services overall. I hope to highlight this focus in future columns about variations in how siblings experience the above outcomes and some recommendations that can be used by families and service providers in helping these brave and burdened siblings.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/band-brothers-and-sisters/201406/siblings-children-disabilities?eml

Avidan Milevsky, Ph.D., is an associate professor of psychology at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania.

On ‘NATIONAL SIBLINGS DAY’ WE JUST HAD TO SHARE – A SISTER WRITES….the truth is powerful

0 Comments | This entry was posted on Apr 17 2018

The Forgotten End of Autism

I spent last night in my room in peace. I went to bed around 11, watching a TV show and enjoying the silence of my house. My brother wasn’t home for the first time in a while, and we were able to relax for a few hours. The night before, I went to bed at 11, frustrated as I’d just had an argument with my mum. We were both exhausted as, for the fifth time that day, we’d dealt with my 17-year-old brother having a meltdown over – I kid you not – the Teletubbies.
There is no physical way to explain to someone who hasn’t experienced autism what the emotional labour is like on a family. It challenges one beyond what they think they can cope with, because it forces us to take a look at life’s fundamental question: what is the point?
The issue I broach is one that is rarely expressed in mainstream media and politics – that autism is not and never has been one uniform block of distinction. The actuality is this: autistic people are no more alike than neurotypical people; the condition is an intricate web of varying aptitudes, inabilities and struggles. There will never be an ‘accurate’ depiction of autism because it is not possible to instill the qualities of every autistic person into a single caricature, and that is widely acknowledged across the autism community.
Even so, there is a ‘general’ notion of an individual with autism. Lacking social skills, including eye contact and perception of emotion and tone. Sensory overload, instances of stimming. Whether we mean to or not, when we hear the word ‘autism’, we construct an image of what we assume the person mentioned will be like. We do not think of the ignored edge of the autistic spectrum.
The forgotten side of the spectrum falls to the “low-functioning” children; the ones who cannot feed themselves without making a mess, or perhaps not at all. The incontinent teenagers, the barely verbal adults. Those whose ‘mental age’ is much less than their physical. People like my brother, Stephen, who seem to exist only in their immediate family circle.
For us, it is simple yet heartbreaking. Stephen will never be able to live independently. He requires constant supervision, can’t talk beyond basic requests, can’t use the toilet or dress himself; he can’t so much as cross the road by himself. He doesn’t grasp the notions of money and spending, or even of life in general. His autism is so severe that his world revolves around a rigorous routine of school and home. He thinks in numbers and colours and children’s TV shows. In brutal honesty, I don’t believe he knows what day it is. ‘Mainstream’ is a word that hasn’t left our lips in years.
First of all, nobody truly recognises how tough it is merely to care for someone who needs assistance with everything. Stephen is 6 ft. 2 and has to be bathed, washed and nappies changed. Physically, and mentally, it is downright exhausting. His sleep schedule is non-existent and his meltdowns are unpredictable. His self-harming happens unexpectedly and can last for indeterminate amounts of time. These are the children you don’t see in autism awareness adverts; headbutting walls, smacking their heads, nipping and biting and scratching. It is the most draining thing to devote hours upon hours simply trying to prevent someone from hitting themselves, and a task that seems so stupid and meaningless in nature when you know that, come a few hours’ time, it will simply happen again.
Secondly, there is no general understanding of severe autism sought. I mean, who can I tell? Family rarely if ever come to visit him, be it for reasons of ignorance or genuine lack of awareness. There is only so much empathy my employers can show me when they have never met him. I worry that friends won’t comprehend, or that they won’t want to know him. I positively panic that potential boyfriends will be put off by him, or reject the idea that he has to come first in my life. The media show nobody like him; journalists don’t bother to highlight our situation. Politicians have never asked what we might need. We are completely and utterly alone at our side of the spectrum, in the dark and in the cold.
I am 19; I should spend my days fretting about having enough money to go out at the weekend and passing exams to get my degree. My biggest fear about the future should be whether I’m going to achieve my dream job, what countries I will travel to. Instead, I worry about what will become of my brother. He understands nothing of pain and manipulation and danger. My brother is so bearing on the spectrum that he needs round the clock care, and when I am the only one left to do that, how will I cope?
And you know what? I love him so much. I love him more than anything in this world, because if anything he is pure. He doesn’t know anything of sickness and pain; he has no awareness of hatred. All he knows is his little bubble of love and care that we provide for him, and in some ways I envy him. He makes me laugh with his wittiness and smarts, and he has kept me going through some rough times. He is a positive influence on my life, and I am not taking away from what he is or has done for me.
But the reality is this: we are tired, and we are alone. Families on the severe end of the spectrum feel they cannot write into support groups, because often their experiences feel too extreme. It is impossible to ever establish a sense of normality, or to lull ourselves into the illusion that things will get better. Our children and family members are not just struggling socially, but struggling merely to exist, to function. With no consciousness among the general public of how hard it truly is, there is no relief from this feeling. We simply have to get on with it. We must continue to take care and love a person who will never comprehend what we have done for him, how much we have sacrificed for him, and will never thank us for it.
Understand this also: if you are part of a neurotypical family, you take much for granted that we will never experience. Family dinners out don’t exist. Holidays could never happen. Stephen will never attend a school disco, bring friends over for dinner, or bring home a partner. I will never get to ask him, “do you want kids?” There will be no wedding for me to attend. Never will he have the satisfaction of a job, a home, a sense of fulfilment in this world.
This is what makes my heart ache the most: my brother simply doesn’t understand his own existence.
This is why, when asked the loaded and complicated question of, “would you take away Stephen’s autism if you could?”, my answer is yes. He doesn’t understand his actions, or the consequences of them – the hurt and exhaustion, but also the happiness and love, that he brings on our family. He makes no decisions about himself or his future, and has no comprehension of any normal, everyday concepts that we grasp so simply. We all want the best for our children; all Stephen wants is a box of Teletubbies and a can of Diet Coke.
We don’t have the luxury of forgetting about it. You probably don’t see these children often – families find it hard to take them out in public, as it is much too stressful and we are judged immensely. These children don’t attend your children’s schools; they simply pass you in traffic on a bus, so you don’t have to experience their presence. You have the luxury of avoiding “low-functioning” children altogether.  In a 24 hour, 7-week job, we do not.
The reality is that it cannot be taken away. Whatever becomes of us, we will continue caring for Stephen far into the future. All that I ask for in this time is awareness of the hardships autistic families go through in the meagre task of existing, of living at home. As invisible as we may be in everyday life, we are here, sacrificing normality in the name of love. Don’t forget about us.
Katrina xo

Stephen and I with his beloved Teletubbies. lol
Taken from “KATRINA MC Blog – Lipstick and Politics In which I document my views on makeup and why democracy doesn’t exist. Sometimes.”
____________

*The first somewhat mainstream representation of the broader spectrum of autism that I have ever come across is Louis Theroux’s Extreme Love: Autismwhich shows children attempting to navigate their way through a mainstream school, verbal children on the cusp of being integrated into “normal” life, all the way to children who are barely or non-verbal and have serious self-harm issues. For those willing to delve into the world of autism, it’s a good start. It is available to stream on Netflix.