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Service Provider » Blogging AS an Aspie
Matt has Asperger’s Syndrome (AS), an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and is writing this blog so that people can gain more of an insight into how people with the condition process thoughts, feel emotions, react to situations and generally handle life.

07 Mar 09 Suspended

At 9am yesterday, I went into one of the rooms at the specialist college to reclaim some travel expenses, and found that the person I wished to speak to wasn’t there. As I was waiting, I had a charming first-year student inform me “Boo hoo, Emily isn’t here, what are you going to do?” Followed by a couple of other patronising remarks. I calmly walked round to him, and in a joking-style, said to him “this is what I’m going to do!” And I lightly clipped him across the top of his head – no different to how I interact with some other people, it’s just part of me…

Anyways, this student doesn’t react initially, but a lovely female support worker then informs me that “You shouldn’t hit other students,” and I explained that wasn’t hitting, it was a light slap across his head, with no force involved. She repeated her information, and then the student started to join in – except he wasn’t quite so friendly, “F**k off out of this f**king room!”

Then, the lovely staff member advises me to leave. I ignore her, because I don’t make a habit of following staff direction when they basically repeat what a student has told me to do. I get about three more requests out of the pair of them, before the student threatens me, “F**k off out of this room, or I’ll f**king drag you out!” I move into the middle of the room, where there is space to defend myself, but before I have a chance to prepare for a block, the staff member has put herself in the way, and the student assaults her as she blocks him.

Then, I’m told that I must see the College Co-Ordinator before I leave – but as I’m pressed for time, I give her 60 seconds, and tell her to ring me for any information, or if there are any developments. Next thing I hear is my Mum ringing me at 1pm, to tell me that the service provider has rang my step-dad (at work) to tell him that there has been an incident and that there will be a meeting. I then rings the college co-ordinators office to find out who rang my parents, and why they didn’t inform me – both of them denied ringing them…

After a day out at GFE College, I went back to be informed that I’m now about to walk into a Stage 5 Disciplinary meeting (the highest it can go without involving an external agency), and immediately request time with my advocate. My advocate then refuses to read my statement of events, and tells me that she is there solely to check I understand what is being said. During this meeting I’m told that I’m suspended from the service provider, and that

24 Nov 08 Taking the piss

I make no apologies for the title of this post. The service provider really is going too far now, and has got me jumping through quite a number of hoops just to be able to meet my friend!

Regular subscribers will remember the saga back in April & May of this year, when I was directly ordered to not meet my then 15-year-old friend in town for the purpose of helping her revise. Needless to say, the service provider hasn’t particularly changed its stance much, and is following its usual ethos of ‘check everything to the nth degree, and then go back and check it all again’ before even considering anything. It’s hardly any wonder why I believe progress to be so slow…

Back in August, my friend had her sweet 16th. Ok, maybe not-so-sweet, but you get the idea! With me helping her revise for her GCSE exams, she was in Year 11 at school. Which meant that she must have been born between 01/09/1991 and 31/08/1992. To further back this up, she’s been constantly talking about her sixth-form subjects!

So, 3 days after that day, I was in my manager’s office, asking him to risk assess me to meet my friend. My manager is a genuine bloke, and although he feels he cannot advocate for me with this issue, he does pass on my requests to the senior management team, and returns their replies promptly. And what response did I get? It certainly wasn’t an “off you go, stick within the city centre risk assesment” type response I was hoping for.

I got a “could you ask your friend to show us some photographic ID with her date of birth on it please” response. My immediate thought was to tell my manager where I might well plan to stick her photographic ID if I get it! However, I then had to simply ask how I was supposed to obtain said ID without meeting her to borrow it from her, bearing in mind that she still couldn’t be allowed with the halls. I was told to ask her to post it! Charming…

Well, I came up with a novel idea this month, having not managed to be able to get my friend to be able to photocopy something suitable and post it to me. She has kindly photographed her bus pass using her phone, and pictured messaged it to me. I’ve then saved the picture, copied it to my computer and put it on a USB pen drive. Then I went to see my manager, and I put it onto his computer, and he will take it to senior management.

I miss my friend, and she keeps telling me she still has a hand-made thank-you card from when I helped her revise. I was meant to get it when I saw her for her birthday party, but I never ended up going to that. Her birthday fell right in the middle of the first aid duty I was doing all weekend, and I ended up so busy and distracted that it was the next day when I eventually remembered to call her and wish a happy birthday!

Anyway, I’m now just waiting for senior management to get back to me with the latest set of hoops to jump through!

12 Aug 08 Remembering what’s important

In the last four weeks, I feel like my life has been turned upside down. I don’t know why it turned upside down, it just did. And what confuses me the most is that I was effectively on holiday when everything happened at once.

I was as far removed from ‘the loop’ as professionals could reasonably keep me. It wasn’t just me; my Mum also was not sure what was going on. In some cases, even my Overseeing Manager at the service provider was not informed of things that affected my care.

I’ll briefly explain a timescale. From 15th July to 25th July I was still at the service provider, although (for all intents and purposes) was on holiday from the college. I returned to my Mum’s house on 25th July, and stayed until the morning of the 27th when I travelled independently to my Gran’s house in Southampton. I returned home on the train on Monday 11th August, and have been at my Mum’s since.

The first I knew something had been going on was when my manager called me into his office on Monday 21st July, and was explaining that “to keep me out of trouble and to protect me” he was suspending all of my community risk assessments until I left the Sunderland area on Friday. But I wasn’t suspicious, his reasons seemed acceptable to me at the time, and I had no reason to suspect that anything else was taking place. I should have noticed later in the week when another manager queried me on an aspect of it, but I dismissed it as a usual lack of communication. It should have been blindingly obvious on the Friday when my manager explained that one of my Psychiatrists wanted to speak to my Mum at home.

As it was, I simply took it as routine, and went about my journey home. I wasn’t expecting the phone call from my Mum on Saturday asking me to be home for 4.30pm because the Psychiatrist needed to “urgently see me at home”. I duly returned, and settled down for the meeting. At this point both my Mum and I discover that “there has been some meetings this week about Matt’s plans for the holidays and potential risks”, not that we get to know the content of them.

And then he said something which made me react aggressively, “[the service provider] has had to make a ‘public interest disclosure’ to [a local] social services child protection team about Matt’s interaction with and behaviours toward [my 15 year old female friend]“. I could not believe what I had heard. Not half because the service provider has no primary evidence of my interaction with my friend. I will admit to getting very aggressive, and in part that was due to a trust breakdown between me and the service provider. At present, I’m not letting on how I feel to them, but I’m there next week, and I intend to confront them with it.

I then went away for two weeks, having been reassured that both my Mum and I would be kept informed of the goings-on as they happened. So how did it happen that my Manager was ringing me at 2.35pm on my train journey home, asking why I hadn’t attended a 1.30pm appointment at my house? Simple, nobody had checked my diary, nobody had copied my Mum or my Manager into the relevant letter, and nobody had rang me to tell me about it. The particular department in question had cheek to “be annoyed that nobody was at home when they called”, considering they hadn’t checked that the relevant people (me!) had been notified!

After a discussion that night, both my Mum and I agreed on something, that it appeared a lot had been going on with regard to my care, but for some unbeknown-to-us reason we were no longer felt to be ‘in the loop’.

22 Jun 08 Thee be warned

I’m off travelling independently for two weeks, lucky me! I do have legitimate purpose, which is to have a look at 7 different universities and investigate the support they could offer me, as well as discover more about the courses I am interested in.

I knew I wouldn’t be able to leave the specialist college quite so easily. Everybody was assuming it was next week I was leaving, or else it was Monday. So, the Deputy Principal needed to speak to me before she left, or not, because she left before she did. I didn’t even manage to say goodbye to my residential line manager. I did say goodbye to my college line manager, who is now ringing me on Monday morning.

The other college manager reminded me of how to conduct myself. Not talking to girls on trains, and so on. Not getting into tricky situations where I might get myself in trouble. As I always seem to. But she seemed to think I might be able to get it right!

Even last night things weren’t fully on track. Most people had me down as leaving 2 hours later than I needed to. Then I needed to book in and out the alcohol I bought to drink last night and tonight. To make things harder, I also had a load of photocopying and printing to do for the Coast to Coast cycle ride, which the club is undertaking; the need the forms out before I leave. It was 1am when I went to bed, and I got 4 hours sleep. Lovely.

27 May 08 Arguing

True to form, my holidays have started off in what is now their traditional way, an argument with my parents (from an Aspie perspective, one could argue that it is at least reassuring that some things never change and that there is a level of consistency). I can now pretty much guarantee that on the Saturday evening after I return home, there will be an argument relating to some aspect of “my behaviour” and “keeping me safe”.

But why am I in this state? Why do I always get myself in a state where I want to cry because of the arguments?

This time, it’s about meeting my friend, to help her revise. For some reason, I had it in my head that my Mum would be reasonable, and let me go and meet my friend to help her. But no, I was wrong. I told her after I got back from Newcastle that I had met this friend; the usual lecture began, an exact copy of what the service provider has been over-exaggerating. I was, as usual, reminded of the risks, that there is a strong possibility I could make my friend feel scared in my presence, that I could do something socially/sexually inappropriate, that I could ‘not conform to the unwritten rules of society’, or that my friend could accuse me of something. That last comment leads to the usual reminders, I could be branded a “rapist”, or a “paedophile”, that I could have allegations show up on a CRB, which would ruin my career ambition.

I was finding it difficult enough to trust the management of the service provider; considering I now no longer genuinely believe that I have a chance of a reasonable outcome when I ask for things to be considered. For my Mum to be taking the same approach really upsets me; I do not wish to not trust my Mum.

I text my friend after this argument, and she replied:

Wel I KNOW tht u wudnt do anything like that. and they shud too! [...] bt if its best then il just revise by myself, then u wnt hav ths shit

This made me happier. As far as I’m concerned, it proves one thing, that I can cope, and that I can cope quite well. All that matters to me is that she is ok with things. My main problem is that I’m in a ‘catch-22′ situation, I can’t prove I can cope being with her independently without going against my Mum’s wishes or service provider’s orders and thus getting myself into trouble.

I told my friend that I enjoy spending time with her, that the revision is something fun, worthwhile and sensible. I told her my feelings on what the adults around me are doing; that they are refusing to believe me (or listen in some cases), that I’m not going to let it bother me, and that it’s basically just crap what they’re doing.