Christmas, Children and Irresponsible Parents

I don't particularly like Christmas time. I'm always rushed for time, the shops are busy and there's never any where to park, so I was pleasantly surprised when I was able to drive straight into a parking slot this afternoon.

My pleasure was short lived, however, when my attention was drawn to the back of a posh new car parked close by. Inside, sleeping soundly in her car seat, was a tiny little girl wrapped up really well in a fluffy pink anorak and matching tights.

The child was probably about one year old and clearly well cared for, but she had been been left alone in that car. Anything could have happened.

I wouldn't have noticed her but for the fact several people were talking and pointing in her direction. When I asked what all the fuss was about, they told me. As I rushed off to complete my errands there were several people discussing the situation and obviously they'd decided it was none of their business because when I returned shortly afterwards they'd all gone.

Not so the little girl who was still sound asleep.

I don't know how long she'd been there but I couldn't leave that car park until the person responsible for her had returned. My conscience wouldn't let me. What if someone had broken into the car and taken her? What if she'd woken up and been absolutely terrified of being alone?, What if............?

I know shopping with children can be difficult and when little ones fall asleep it's nice to leave them so you can get on , but we are regrettably living in an age where life is considered cheap and some people are out of their minds on drugs and alcohol. Many will do anything to get money to feed their habits. Don't forget either the gangs and paedophiles who roam amongst us.

Most people are basically good but you can't be sure. Parents must take responsibility for their children, especially when they are too young to look after themselves. The woman was lucky. The child remained asleep and unharmed but it could so easily have been another Madeleine McCann incident.

Read more articles by Jean


Autism, Christmas And Putting Things Into Perspective

Normally I hate this time of year. The Christmas mail generally brings with it cards from old friends and acquaintances. Whilst I love to hear from them I often feel envious and cheated for they make me think if what might have been if only my son hadn't developed autism.

I know it's wrong but I'm only human.

However, this year I seem to have got things into perspective. Instead of yearning for what I may have missed, I appreciate what I have.

The Season of Good Will didn't start too well. I took my son on a train journey. He loved it. The train was full of Christmas shoppers and commuters so we were unable to sit together. However, I managed to get a seat directly behind him and watched as he sat staring out of the window, a finger in one ear, reciting story lines memorised from his vast array of videos.

The lady next to him, engrossed in her paperback novel appeared not to notice, but a young child, three years old apparently, did. With the innocence of youth she asked her mother and grandmother:

"Why was he was talking to himself?"
"Why did he have his finger in his ear?"
"Why did he look out of the window all the time?"

In the quietness of the crowded carriage her persistent little voice carried and her carers were visibly embarrassed. They tried, as best they could to divert her questions but were fighting a losing battle. I noticed soon many people were glancing at my son and contemplating his somewhat unusual behaviour.

Tears welled up in my eyes as I looked at the little girl for it brought back memories of happier times. I remembered how my son used to be such a chatterbox; friendly, sociable and inquisitive. Then came autism and his world and that of all around him changed forever.

Life's unfair.

A few days after that train journey my son's school were performing their Christingle Service in the local cathedral. It is a beautiful, serene building over 1000 years old. The architecture and decorations are quite magnificent.

Set in a flat landscape the huge cathedral can be viewed from miles and is known as The Ship Of The Fens. It gives people hope. Just thinking about its construction makes you realise no task is too great and when you go inside there is an amazing atmosphere.

My son attends a school for children with special needs. Each child is different and provides a varying degree of worry and anxiety for his or her parents. Some children have both physical and medical disabilities, others mental or behavioural problems. Some are confined to a wheel chair, whilst others just wander, unable to stay still. However, every single child is cherished and valued for who they are, and their achievements, no matter how small, are acknowledged.

As I sat in the tranquil Lady Chapel listening to the carols and recitations by the children, I watched my son perform Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Dressed in his antlers, scarf and red mittens, he was so confident and happy, it made me realise how lucky I really am.

For more articles and information on autism visit Jean's site

Why Health Is More Important Than Being Thin

The last few days have made me realise how important it is to live for the day and value your health.

One of my friends was celebrating her 70th birthday. I went to visit her and was shocked to see how much weight she had lost since our last meeting. She is fine though and eats sensibly but is just exhausted.

She is a full time carer for her husband who has prostate cancer and has also suffered a stroke, which has left him physically helpless. He spent several weeks in hospital and my friend had a fifty mile round trip each day just to visit him. Eventually, she put a lot of her possessions into storage, made the necessary adaptations to their bungalow and got a support system in place so she could look after her husband at home.

It was a relief not to commute to the hospital everyday but at least then she had a break. Now she is on call twenty-four hours a day and as much as she loves her husband it is a strain. He cannot move without help and whilst his mind is alert and active, his speech is not brilliant.

He is constantly tired, and his skin itches and is sore from his medication and sitting in the same position. My friend has to do everything for him and never gets the chance to sit down. Where once she was able to socialise, relax with a good book, or get on her computer, she is now also responsible for the gardening, DIY, car cleaning, etc. My friend is really tired.

The next day we visited my in-laws and here the situation is reversed.

My mother-in-law has Alzheimer's. She is still mobile but very forgetful and where once she ate heartily now has little appetite. She's just skin and bone. Her clothes hang on her.

She has lost interest in everything and all she wants to do is go out in the car. The problem is she's so frail even going over the slightest bump hurts her. My father-in-law has run out of places to take her. They've lived in the same area all their lives so have been everywhere there is to go locally, more than once, and of course, petrol is not cheap.

My father-in-law who was once very active and played golf three times each week is a sociable person who enjoys the company of other people. Now, however, he is virtually house bound, as his wife gets distressed if he is out of her sight. He has to do everything for her and has taken over the shopping, cooking, housework, etc. He never leaves her and the strain is beginning to show.

They've been married fifty-six years and have run out of conversation. They've said all there is to say and also my mother-in-law can't focus her thoughts anyway. She's become suddenly very old and helpless. My father-in-law is really tired.

Both my friend and father-in-law have had their world turned upside down through the health of the partners they love. One has lost loads of weight and the ability to relax. The other has gained loads of weight and the chance to be active. Both have lost the opportunity to socialise.

On the television this evening a very sweet little lady aged 110 years, who lives in a care home and looks amazing, gave the nation her recommendations for longevity. Her advice was eat sensibly, exercise and a glass if wine when you want to, but not too often.

It's good advice and certainly exercise is an important factor. My father-in-law has put most of his weight on his chest and is now finding it hard to breathe. His doctor has told him he has to cut down on sugar, salt and fat and go for a brisk walk everyday. However, his wife can't walk far, won't go in a wheelchair and he can't leave her so such exercise is unlikely.

He must therefore reduce his calorie intake, but he is an ex chef and likes to cook. He has been brought up to enhance the flavour of food by adding all the things the doctor has recommended he reduce, and his taste buds have become accustomed to the taste. At the age of eighty-six he wonders if making the change is worth it, especially as eating is now one of the few pleasures he has left.

It is a fact, as you get older you need to eat less calories simply because you lose muscle at the rate of ½ lb per year. Unless you actively do something to replace it your body will replace the muscle with fat, and being too fat is unhealthy, as you know.

Muscle burns far more calories than fat so unless you are prepared to reduce your calorie intake year after year you need to think about that. Whilst cutting down on the fats, sugars and salts, especially the hidden ones in packaged and processed foods will most certainly help you lose or maintain your preferred weight, you still consciously need to build lean muscle otherwise the next year you'll have to reduce your calorie intake even further.

That little old lady has it right - eat sensibly and exercise. Everyone is unique and it's far more important to be healthy than slim. Unless your weight is affecting your health just concentrate on living and enjoying every single day.


Chickenpox Added To The MMR – Surely That's Going Too Far Isn't It?

My youngest son has autism. He developed it after his MMR vaccination and whilst I don't believe it was the sole cause for his lifelong disability, I am personally convinced it was a contributory factor.

The main cause, I believe, was mercury and I explain why in my books.

The MMR however is a contentious issue. Many parents refuse to allow their children to have it. They believe, (rightly or wrongly), that to give three live viruses simultaneously to their young offspring whilst their immune systems are still developing is going too far. After all, have you ever heard of anyone naturally catching Measles, Mumps and Rubella (German Measles) at the same time in the real world? I certainly haven't.

However, it now appears there are possible proposals to add a further virus to the mix with the introduction of Chickenpox. Naturally, I think that really is too much but that's just my opinion. What do you think?

Chickenpox is a highly infectious disease caused by a virus and results in red, itchy bumps and blisters. It usually appears on the face, trunk and upper limbs. It is pretty unsightly and very unpleasant but is generally an accepted childhood illness. Not for much longer though, at least if some members of the medical profession have their way. As it is a preventable illness they feel it should be just that.

Chickenpox is caught either by airborne droplets through coughs and sneezes and less likely through direct contact with its broken blisters. The biggest problem with Chickenpox is you can be infected for several days before the rash ever appears and that is when you are most contagious. You might feel ill but have no evident spots, and as the infection period lasts until all the blisters have formed scabs, there is a great risk of unwittingly passing the Chickenpox on.

Generally speaking this isn't a major problem but there are certain high-risk groups for whom the virus could cause complications. Pregnant women should certainly be wary as it could harm their unborn child, and anyone with Cancer, HIV or a weakened immune system need to take care.

Chickenpox looks horrible and the itching is often unbearable. Patients are often advised to cut their nails really short and wear gloves so they don't keep scratching the heads off the blisters, which could get infected, or leave permanent scars. Sales of Calamine lotion really soar when there is a Chickenpox epidemic around.

I remember my autistic son caught Chickenpox at the age of about five or six. It was just before we were due to go on holiday and by the time we set off his little body was covered in spots. However, the doctor assured us he was no longer contagious so we proceeded with our plans.

At that point in time he had great difficulty in social situations, preferred his own company, didn't like crowds and was very sensitive to noise, so for him the timing of his Chickenpox was a real blessing. Why? Well, the only thing my son loved to do then apart from watch videos was swim, and once he stripped off into his swimming trunks to reveal his spotty little frame everyone else disappeared and he got the pool to himself. It was great!

However, Chickenpox is not to be taken lightly because although for most children it is just uncomfortable, the adult version, known as Shingles, can be incredibly painful. I remember my dad had it once and said he thought he was going to meet his maker. He had spots on his back and round to his stomach. I don't know whether it is an old wives tale or not but "they" say if the spots join up around your body you die. Thankfully his didn't.

Shingles is a very painful rash, which only occurs in people who have had Chickenpox. It is caused because once you've had the Chickenpox virus it travels down to the roots of the nerves, hibernates and becomes dormant. Sometimes, however, it wakes up and reactivates, travelling back up to the skin via the nerves. No one really knows why, but it's very unfortunate. I have a friend who gets it mildly but regularly and she associates it with stress.

Shingles is rarely serious but is contagious in as much as contact with someone who has it can result in someone developing Chickenpox. They wouldn't catch Shingles though.

Clearly, Chickenpox and Shingles are both unpleasant and everyone would hope to avoid them if possible, but I'm not sure adding yet another live virus to an already questionable vaccine is the answer. Why not just keep the single jab? (and that goes for the Measles, Mumps and Rubella vaccines too).

The medical profession say it makes it easier to cover children for all the viruses in one go because it reduces the costs, and also the inconvenience to parents who might have to take time off work or forget to take their offspring back.

Personally, I think I'd rather put up with a bit of inconvenience. How about you?

Jean Shaw is the author of:
I'm Not Naughty, I'm Autistic – Jodi's Journey,
Autism, Amalgam and Me – Jodi's Journey Continues
Mercury Poisoning – It's Not In Our Heads Any More – Jodi's Journey Goes On http://www.jeanshaw.com/


Dogs And What Every Human Should Learn From Them

I have always been very busy, and apart from briefly having a rabbit and several tropical fish, I’ve never actually had any domestic pets. Apart from the fact my autistic son is terrified of animals which invade his space, I personally find them too much of a tie.

If you want to go anywhere the majority need quite a bit of looking after. Most, though not all require exercise, are renowned for losing their hair and smell. However, I know many people who consider their pets an integral part of the family and either take them on holiday with them or get house sitters in whilst they are away.

When I lived “abroad” that was a good opportunity for single contractors as it meant they could spend a few days in a "family home" rather than in the company provided "bachelor accommodation". I understand also, that parents are equally useful as pet sitters as they are baby sitters, but for those pet owners who are unable to find suitable surrogate keepers, the only answer is the kennels.

That's if you can afford them as they don't come cheap. I've heard people complain the cost for the pet was almost as much as the actual holiday, and they spent most of their time away wondering if everything was okay. Also of course there are the food and vet bills to consider. Having a pet certainly isn’t cheap and requires a lot of time and effort, but I appreciate some people wouldn’t be without them.

They can be good company and I can think of one woman who claims to think more of her dog than her husband. She says it is always pleased to see her and never lets her down. I suppose she has a point and I thought of her this morning when I received this e-mail. I’ve no idea if it’s true or whether some one just made it up as a nice story but it did make me think so I thought I'd pass it on.

A Dog's Purpose (from a 6 year old)

Being a veterinarian, I had been called to examine a ten-year-old Irish Wolfhound named Belker. The dog's owners, Ron, his wife, Lisa, and their little boy, Shane, were all very attached to Belker, and they were hoping for a miracle.

I examined Belker and found he was dying of cancer. I told the family we couldn't do anything for Belker, and offered to perform the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in their home. As we made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told me they thought it would be good for six-year-old Shane to observe the procedure. They felt Shane might learn something from the experience.

The next day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as Belker's family surrounded him. Shane seemed so calm, petting the old dog for the last time, that I wondered if he understood what was going on.

Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away.

The little boy seemed to accept Belker's transition without any difficulty or confusion. We sat together for a while after Belker's death, wondering aloud about the sad fact than animal lives are shorter than human lives.

Shane, who had been listening quietly piped up, "I know why"

Startled, we all turned to him and what came out of his mouth next stunned me. I'd never heard a more comforting explanation.

He said, "People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life -- like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?" The six-year-old continued, "Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don't have to stay as long."

Live simply

Love generously

Care deeply

Speak kindly

Remember, if a dog was the teacher you would learn things like:

When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.
Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.
Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure.
Take naps.
Stretch before rising.
Run, romp, and play daily.
Thrive on attention and let people touch you.
Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.
On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass.
On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree.
When you're happy, dance around and wag your entire body.
Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.
Be loyal.
Never pretend to be something you're not.
If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.
When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by and nuzzle them gently.


Cancer - What You Need To Know To Help Avoid Or Fight It

Last week end I went to a "Pink Party" in my local village, where as the name suggests, everyone wore something pink.

The event wasn’t so much a party as a lunch to raise awareness of Breast Cancer. The proceeds went to support McMillan Cancer Care Nurses and very successful it was too.

The local flower arranging society gave a demonstration of their skills and the results were raffled off in a draw. There were home made cakes, jams and chutneys to make the Women’s Institute proud, a bric-a-brac stall and various other small stalls.

You could buy a drink and a cake, have a light lunch of sandwiches or go for a full meal followed by dessert, plus tea, coffee, or a soft pink juice, and all for a very reasonable price.

It was a great event for a very worthy cause and I was surprised by the amount of men there. Many, it seemed had either lost loved ones to breast cancer or were supporting someone with either that or some other form of cancer.

There are, it seems over 200 different types and, most scientists agree at least 80% are caused by man made toxic synthetic chemicals.

I often receive e-mails from people with requests to forward them to the people I care about and the following is no exception.

Please read it and take note. The information could help save your life, and that of your loved ones.

1. Every person has cancer cells in the body. These cancer cells do not show up in the standard tests until they have multiplied to a few billion. When doctors tell cancer patients that there are no more cancer cells in their bodies after treatment, it just means the tests are unable to detect the cancer cells because they have not reached the detectable size.

2. Cancer cells occur between 6 to more than 10 times in a person's lifetime.

3. When the person's immune system is strong the cancer cells will be destroyed and prevented from multiplying and forming tumors.

4. When a person has cancer it indicates the person has multiple nutritional deficiencies. The causes could be genetic, environmental, food and lifestyle.

5. To overcome the multiple nutritional deficiencies, changing diet and including supplements will strengthen the immune system.

6. Chemotherapy involves poisoning the rapidly-growing cancer cells and also destroys rapidly-growing healthy cells in the bone marrow, gastro-intestinal tract etc, and can cause organ damage, like liver, kidneys, heart, lungs etc.

7. Radiation while destroying cancer cells also burns, scars and damages healthy cells, tissues and organs.

8. Initial treatment with chemotherapy and radiation will often reduce tumor size. However, prolonged use of chemotherapy and radiation does not result in more tumor destruction.

9. When the body has too much toxic burden from chemotherapy and radiation the immune system is either compromised or destroyed, hence the person can succumb to various kinds of infections and complications.

10. Chemotherapy and radiation can cause cancer cells to mutate and become resistant and difficult to destroy. Surgery can also cause cancer cells to spread to other sites.

11. An effective way to battle cancer is to starve the cancer cells by not feeding it with the foods it needs to multiply.

Cancer Cells feed on -

a. Sugar is a cancer-feeder. By cutting off sugar it cuts off one important food supply to the cancer cells. Sugar substitutes like NutraSweet, Equal, Spoonful, etc are made with Aspartame and it is harmful. A better natural substitute would be Mänuka honey or molasses but only in very small amounts. Table salt has a chemical added to make it white in color. A better alternative is using Bragg's amino or sea salt.

b. Milk causes the body to produce mucus, especially in the gastro-intestinal tract. Cancer feeds on mucus. By cutting off milk and substituting with unsweetened Soya milk cancer cells are being starved.

c. Cancer cells thrive in an acid environment. A meat-based diet is acidic and it is best to eat fish, and a little chicken rather than beef or pork. Meat also contains livestock antibiotics,growth hormones and parasites, which are all harmful, especially to people with cancer.

d. A diet made of 80% fresh vegetables and juice, whole grains, seeds, nuts and a little fruits help the body to develop into an alkaline environment. About 20% can be from cooked food including beans. Fresh vegetable juices provide live enzymes that are easily absorbed and reach down to cellular levels within 15 minutes to nourish and enhance growth of healthy cells. To obtain live enzymes for building healthy cells try and drink fresh vegetable juice (most vegetables including bean sprouts)and eat some raw vegetables 2 or 3 times a day. Enzymes are destroyed at temperatures of 104 degrees F (40 degrees C).

e. Avoid coffee, tea, and chocolate, which have high caffeine. Green tea is a better alternative and has cancer-fighting properties. Water-best to drink purified water, or filtered, to avoid known toxins and heavy metals in tap water. Distilled water is acidic, avoid it.

12. Meat protein is difficult to digest and requires a lot of digestive enzymes. Undigested meat remaining in the intestines become putrefied and leads to more toxic build-up.

13. Cancer cell walls have a tough protein covering. By refraining from or eating less meat it frees more enzymes to attack the protein walls of cancer cells and allows the body's killer cells to destroy the cancer cells.

14. Some supplements build up the immune system (IP6, Flor-ssence, Essiac, anti-oxidants,vitamins, minerals, EFAs etc.) to enable the bodies own killer cells to destroy cancer cells. Other supplements like vitamin E are known to cause apoptosis, or programmed cell death, the body's normal method of disposing of damaged,unwanted, or unneeded cells.

15. Cancer is a disease of the mind, body, and spirit. A proactive and positive spirit will help the cancer victim become a survivor. Anger, unforgivingness and bitterness put the body into a stressful, acidic environment and enhancing the production of toxins. Learn to have a loving and forgiving spirit. Learn to relax and enjoy life. After all you only have one body. And you only live once.

16. Cancer cells cannot thrive in an oxygenated environment. Exercising daily and deep breathing help to get more oxygen down to the cellular level. Oxygen therapy is another means employed to destroy cancer cells.

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Relax - Life's Too Precious To Waste

I don't know about you but I've found as I get older I seem to have lost the ability to relax and am always busy doing something.

My family have told me I must have a "rest" but I find it difficult. Even if I do just sit in a chair my mind doesn't switch off. There are so many things I feel I must "do".

However, this past week I have had a complete break from the computer and my normal day/night "job" and have spent it on a caravan holiday. Actually it was more of an educational trip as we were searching for further educational facilities for our autistic son when he leaves school.

Hopefully it was successful. Time will tell.

The break did me good and I came back feeling refreshed despite our caravan site being at the end of a runway. We weren't aware of the location when we booked, but saw a Typhoon, Lancaster Bomber, Spitfire and a Hurricane which were interesting if you like that sort of thing.

However, the Harriers, F15's and Tornados made an impressive sight flying over at 200 feet – noisy but impressive!

Unfortunately, when I returned home and turned on the computer I was faced with so many e-mails I received a message to say my in-box couldn't hold any more.

My sense of well being soon disappeared.

Spam is a big issue these days and often it's hard to know which e-mails to read and which to ignore. For me the subject line is a big deciding factor or a recognisable sender's address.

Sometimes, however, I just get drawn to e-mails and can't explain why. This is one I read and I think someone, somewhere is trying to tell me something.

Maybe it's a wake up call and I need to listen. Life is too precious to waste.

What do you think?

(written after she found out she was dying from cancer)

I would have gone to bed when I was sick instead of pretending the earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren't there for the day.

I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage.

I would have talked less and listened more.

I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained, or the sofa faded.

I would have eaten the popcorn in the 'good' living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace.

I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth.

I would have shared more of the responsibility carried by my husband. I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed.

I would have sat on the lawn with my grass stains.

I would have cried and laughed less while watching television and more while watching life.

I would never have bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn't show soil, or was guaranteed to last a lifetime.

Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I'd have cherished every moment and realised that the wonderment growing inside me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.

When my kids kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, "Later. Now go get washed up for dinner." There would have been more "I love you's," more "I'm sorry's."

But mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute...look at it and really see it, live it and never give it back.


Don't worry about who doesn't like you, who has more, or who's doing what. Instead, cherish the relationships we have with those who do love us.

Let's think about what God HAS blessed us with, and what we are doing each day to promote ourselves mentally, physically, and emotionally.

I hope you have a blessed day.


Autism And Disability - Why Little Things Can Mean A Lot

My son developed autism just after his first birthday and I wouldn't describe my life since as being easy.

However, today I was reminded just how lucky I am.

Through various non invasive interventions, endless patience and persistence, he has developed into a nice young man who I can now take most places without wishing the ground would open up and swallow me.

My son is eighteen, physically very capable with a great sense of balance and hand/eye co-ordination.

He's now easy to look after and despite using limited language to communicate, he tries very hard in other ways to let people know what he wants and needs.

Another boy I know also tries very hard to communicate. However, he's not quite so physically able, infact he's in a wheelchair.

Now eight, he's become a very frustrated little individual who likes to assert himself whenever possible.

Unfortunately it is making it increasingly difficult for his mother to look after him and take him out alone.

Not only is he getting bigger and heavier, but where once he was happy to be pushed along wherever his mother chose, he now grabs on to anything he can get his hands on to prevent the wheelchair moving, especially if it means leaving somewhere he enjoys.

Railings, gates, lamp posts are all becoming hazardous and he's now mastered the art of the wheel chair equivalent of an emergency stop by putting on the brake when the chair is in motion.

The last time he did it his mother had taken him to a play park and he'd been reluctant to leave. Needless to say he'd entwined his little fingers around every thing he could manage on the route back to the car.

His mother anticipated further problems once they reached the vehicle so as soon as they got in range she got her keys out to open the car by remote control.

The plan was to make the transition from chair to car as quick as possible but her son had other ideas. He pulled on the brake, the chair tipped up and in her haste to keep it upright she dropped the keys down the drain.

The mother just sat down on the kerb and laughed. She had to, if not she would have cried and I know from experience that once you start it can take a long time to stop.

Hearing that story made me once more appreciate just how lucky I am.

One thing which would have made a considerable difference to the lady in question would have been a companion to help her - a friend - another pair of hands.

Over the years I have come to know one thing with certainty and that is the people who require the help the most are the ones least likely to ask for it.

I'd like you to bear that in mind the next time you think about your friend, relation or neighbour and imagine walking a day in their shoes.

Sometimes, even the smallest, simplest thing can mean so much and the difference between being able to cope or not.

I am fortunate in that I have a Circle of Friends for my son. They are people who have his best interests at heart and do fun things with him. It gives him the opportunity to enjoy a variety of activities, and gives me a break from having to be completely responsible all the time.

All are volunteers and help because they want to. They derive as much pleasure from the association as my son does and we all benefit from the relationship.

My Circle also enables me to give quality time to other family members. Often disabilities split families in two and I know of several couples who always do different activities so their "normal" children don't lose out. Some even take separate holidays.

Being a parent is never an easy task but when you have a child with a disability the family unit is frequently under strain. Many couples can't take it and there are more than a few mothers (and fathers) left to cope alone.

I know we all live in a busy world but most of us could, if we wanted, spare a few hours a month to help someone in need.

Believe me, it can make a huge difference.

For more information on autism and how to form a circle of friends


Autism - It May Not Be A Living Nightmare But Is A Reason To Worry

If you've read my previous articles you will know the other day on breakfast television, autism was described as a "living nightmare". That really made my day as my son is autistic.

Certainly autism is a lifelong disability and for parents it's a real worry.

My son is eighteen and autistic. He bears no resemblance now to the "child from hell" whom I wrote about in my first book.

I make that statement just incase anyone reading this has just had their child diagnosed with autism and is filled with despair. Take it from someone who's been there, done that and got the tee-shirt - it can get better.

However, the problems don't go away. They just change.

Whilst I am no expert, my best advice would be to accept the autism diagnosis and do whatever you can, as quickly as you can to help your child be the best he or she can be.

The real "experts" and just about everyone involved with autism all agree the earlier the intervention, the better.

Still, the reality is autism is a lifelong disability and whilst your child can, and most probably will improve in many areas, he or she will always be vulnerable and most likely need some sort of support.

It's a worry.

My son will soon have to leave the security blanket afforded by the children's service and enter the world of the "adults". Unfortunately the help provided there is sparse and frequently inappropriate. Often it is centred on what the person can't do rather than what he or she can.

As I said my son has improved tremendously and with the right support is capable of all sorts of things.

He seldom speaks and academically is a very young child but when it comes to routine household and domestic chores I have more confidence in him than in my "normal" son who is almost two years older. (Sorry son, but you know it's true).

I have no qualms about him cooking, ironing, cleaning, decorating, gardening or any such tasks provided he is supervised. He is careful with tools and is very tidy, is observant, has an eye for detail and a great memory.

Most autistic individuals like routine so if you show them how to do something properly from the start then they are likely to do it that way forever.

You just have to make sure they don't get too rigid about routines. If I explain things to my son he's now happy to accept and make changes. It wasn't always so but the current happy state of affairs has evolved over the years.

It just takes endless patience and persistence.

However, there's one area I can't explain to him and that is emotions and empathy for other people. He is much better than he used to be but I'm sure he'll never understand the concept of love and that's a concern for me at the moment.


Well, it's really to do with a teenage girl he regularly comes into contact with. I think she has Asperger's Syndrome, or at least she is on the autistic spectrum somewhere and her hormones have kicked into overdrive.

She is sociable to say the least.

Having kissed most of the boys in the school and scared half of them (and their parents) by declaring she wants to have their babies, she now appears to have set her sights on my son.

Maybe she sees him as a challenge because he is so totally disinterested. That's the major difference between Asperger's and Autism. One desperately wants to fit in and be liked whilst the other doesn't care.

Anyway, they were apparently seen having a full kiss the other evening at the youth club and when questioned, this young temptress smiled and with a twinkle in her eye declared that since my son doesn't speak it was just his way of saying "Hello".

However, he doesn't greet anyone else in that manner so I suspect the lip lock wasn't instigated by my son.

It worries me.

You see whilst he doesn't express emotions he does have feelings. His brain may not function correctly but the rest of him certainly does. Since that kiss I've begun to wonder what will happen if he should decide he likes the feeling he gets when he kisses (or is kissed by) a girl.

My son learns by example and is vulnerable. Hopefully he'll never be left alone with a member of the opposite sex because although at the moment he prefers to watch Thomas the Tank Engine and Disney videos to Desperate Housewives, it could just be a matter of time before he is exposed to such programmes and what these days his more liberated peers consider "normal".

Remember he learns by example.

It would only take a few minutes with a learning disabled hormonal Lolita with little or no understanding of the consequences of unprotected sex and my son could find himself a father. He wouldn't even know how or why.

Autism is a lifelong disability and I wouldn't wish it on anyone. It may or may not be a "living nightmare" but it certainly is a worry.

For more information on autism visit http://www.jeanshaw.com

Leptospirosis (Weil's Disease) And Why You Should NEVER Drink From Cans

I am always annoying my family by insisting they don't drink from cans or bottles. Unless I "nag" them when we are out they will happily just purchase one from a shop somewhere and raise it to their mouths.

Maybe they feel drinking from a straw or glass isn't macho or cool. At home they have no such qualms and always use glasses, usually so many I complain about the washing up.

There is a very good reason for my insistence however and relates to an incident which happened several years ago when I lived in Brunei.

One Friday afternoon a fit young family man who played football for a local team bought a can of drink from a restaurant situated close to the river. He drank directly from the can and died soon after. It was said he died of Weil’s (pronounced Viles) disease. It caused quit a stir at the time and I've never forgotten it.

I was reminded of the incident today when I opened my e-mail and read this:-

"A woman went boating one Sunday taking with her some cans of coke which she put into the refrigerator of the boat.

On Monday she was taken to the hospital and placed in the Intensive Care Unit.

She died on Wednesday.

The autopsy concluded she died of leptospirosis. This was traced to the can of coke she drank from as she hadn't used a glass.

Tests showed the can was infected by dried rat urine and hence the disease Leptospirosis."

Rat urine contains toxic and deadly substances. They are all around us and it is estimated no-one lives within a few feet of one these days, especially with the amount of food waste and rubbish left lying around.

They live anywhere where there is food and are not fussy about what they class as food. Rats often live in sewers and drains.

Rats can swim and with unusual weather conditions and unprecedented rain fall in many areas, flooding has left several areas not as clean as they should be.

If you must drink from cans or bottles I strongly recommended you thoroughly wash them first – at least the upper parts.

Cans are typically stocked in warehouses and transported straight to shops without being cleaned. Even if they have that plastic wrapping over the trays of cans when they reach the stores you need to consider that someone will stack them on the display shelves.

Do you know what is on their hands? Have they washed them?

A study at NYCU showed that the tops of soda cans are more contaminated than Public toilets i.e., full of germs and bacteria.

My husband often complains of the amount of men who walk straight out of the public toilets without first washing their hands. I'm sure it's the same for many women and that thought usually crosses my mind if I shake hands with anyone.

I have no such worries with my autistic son who is an "expert" hand washer. He has been known to almost hold up planes and stage performances because of it.

However, with so many infections seemingly resistant to treatment these days we need to take as much care of our health as possible.

Antibiotics and antibacterial products are no longer the answer.

What many people do not realise is that these kill ALL bacteria and many are really very useful and necessary.

Instead of using "anti" products you need to use "pro" products and they certainly are available.

I use all natural, general purpose, probiotic cleaning products and certified organic, probiotic health products.

Now instead of having my house full of toxic chemical laced cleaners, I have a powerful army of beneficial bacteria who regenerate, repopulate and dominate over the harmful, disease causing pathogenic bacteria, which are causing such concern both in homes and in our hospitals.

Please take care of your health, and if you must drink from bottles and cans PLEASE wash them with water BEFORE putting them to your mouth.

Leptospirosis or Weil’s disease can be fatal.

Certified Organic Probiotics


Autism - One Reason I Wish Time Would Stand Still

On the television the other morning someone described autism as a "living nightmare". I'm not sure I'd personally go that far yet but it certainly is a major concern - at least for the parents.

My son is autistic and is eighteen. Until now he has been very lucky. He has been able to access support via childrens' services, but I realise many people aren't as fortunate. I've heard numerous tales of parents who've had to really fight for what little help they've had and many get none at all.

I do, but that will soon change. Although my son can already legally drive, drink and vote, he is considered a child until he is nineteen and can remain at his special needs school and go to respite once a month until then. However, as soon as he hits that age he becomes an adult.

Whilst his needs will still be the same, the help to which he will be entitled will be reduced - considerably. Suddenly everything, which has become so familiar to him over the years, will stop.

I wish for his sake and mine time would stand still.

We are currently in the "transition" period where we are exploring the options available to him. They are limited to say the least but we are fortunate in as much as he is not physically disabled which must make things far more difficult.

However, nothing we have seen so far even comes close to what we aspire. The local options aren't really suitable and aren't conducive to his continued improvement. It's depressing and I often wish I could go to sleep and wake up to find the whole autism thing was just a bad dream.

Having said that I realise I am actually one of the lucky ones for my son has got options. Other autistic children/adults don't. It's no wonder parents despair and either accept anything offered, or send their children miles away to some form of residential unit simply because there is nothing appropriate closer to home.

The National Autistic Society now suggests 1 in 100 children suffer from some form of autistic spectrum disorder. In 1993 when my son was diagnosed it was 1 in 2500.

The problem is that all these autistic children will grow up to be autistic adults, and the big question is what will they do?

Apparently only 15% of adults with autism manage to hold down employment and 49% never leave home. That means in many cases elderly parents are effectively looking after their age 40 plus children and it's a worry. What happens if they get ill? Who then will look after their children and how will they adapt?

It's a frightening scenario and one that many parents currently face. Since autism is a problem that isn't going away there needs to be more co-ordinated planning and services put in place before it is too late.

Families need help to enable their adults with autism to be more independent otherwise the cost to the community will be immense. If there is no-where for the people with autism to work then their carers can't work either.

I once heard someone exclaim the world would be destroyed by the three A's - anger, avarice and autism. Maybe that's true.

We are already seeing wars and violence created by anger and greed. Now think about all the autistic children you know. They are the adults of the future.

Frightening isn't it?

Now you know one reason I wish time would stand still.

For mor information on autism visit http://www.jeanshaw.com


MMR, Autism, And Who Should Really Be On Trial

Unless you have been living on a different planet for the past ten years or so you will have heard of autism and the possible connection with the MMR vaccine. It’s a debate, which won’t go away.

Thousands of parents, myself included, are convinced our children were fine until given the triple measles, mumps and rubella injection.

Whilst we all agree it doesn’t affect everyone, we all know deep down it was the reason our normally developing children took a totally devastating and irreversible path. The problem is proving it. Within the health authorities there appears to be a gagging order in place.

Autism was described on the news the other day as a “living nightmare” and certainly it does affect everyone concerned, twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, fifty two weeks a year until eternity.

Not surprisingly, therefore, we would like to ensure other families don’t have to suffer in the same way.

Another person who felt the same concern was Doctor Andrew Wakefield who first highlighted the possible connection back in 1998 when he published an article in the Lancet. It was based on the research he and his fellow researchers Professors John Walker-Smith and Simon Murch had carried out at the Royal Free Hospital in London and suggested a link between the MMR, autism and bowel disease.

However, far from being pleased the reason for the autism pandemic (which has shot up from 1:2500 in 1993 to 1:100 in 2007) might have been discovered, the powers that be took umbrage and not only discredited and belittled his findings but hounded him out of UK.

So why were they so annoyed?

The establishment does not like anyone who stands up against them and dares to suggest their policies do not suit everyone. As a consequence of the Lancet report the uptake of the MMR vaccine plummeted.

Since you can no longer get single jabs in most areas parents were not having their children vaccinated. However, when I was a child they didn’t exist anyway and it was an accepted part of life that at some stage we would catch measles, mumps and chickenpox .

No-one I’ve ever heard of caught all three at the same time.

Vaccines have been developed to eradicate preventable, communicable diseases and the single jabs for measles, mumps and rubella had worked perfectly well up until 1988 when the triple was introduced.

However, someone somewhere decided rather than ask parents to take their young children for three different injections they would just combine the three live viruses and save time, money and stress.

The problem is the safety of the triple was never properly tested and several senior clinicians felt the decision to license it was premature. Just because they worked well separately did not mean combining the three live viruses would be a wise move.

Even if the safety data tests for the MMR were carried out for up to 63 days as we are led to believe that is still not long enough to establish autism, as often the symptoms form part of a gradual process.

The few people involved in the trials were asked to report "significant illness". Since autism is a multi-factorial disorder it affects each unique individual differently and we know it doesn’t affect everyone. Also, back then autism was quite rare so people would not have been looking for the same symptoms which are so common today.

The safety trials were flawed and the whole thing smacks a bit of not what you know but who you know. An article in the Sunday Times in 2001 revealed one third of the government committee advising on the safety of the MMR had financial interests in the drug companies making the vaccine so it’s not surprising the MMR was licensed.

Since then the autism rate has rocketed and now Dr. Andrew Wakefield is on trial by the General Medical Council. He may be struck off if found guilty.

And what is he guilty of exactly?

Well, it’s not for challenging the health authorities to get their heads out of the sand and admit the possibility there could be a connection between MMR and autism for some children. Instead it’s for being “irresponsible and unethical” in the way he carried out his research.

It seems to me the case for being “irresponsible and unethical” is being targeted at the wrong person although I don’t suppose the 1988 British Committee on Safety of Medicines would agree, do you?

Read Autism, Amalgam and Me - Jodi's Journey Continues to see why I think MMR contributed to my son's autism.


Goodbye Wi-Fi

Until recently whenever I used my computer I felt really "weird".

I'd get a pain in my left temple and the left side of my face would burn. My lips and tongue would tingle, I'd get pins and needles in my toes and fingers, my chest would feel tight as though I couldn't breathe properly and I'd feel sick and disorientated. Also I felt the blood was rushing round my body much too fast.

As I said I felt really "weird" despite wearing two bio guard pendants around my neck to protect me from the electrosensitivity emitted from electro magnetic fields. I'm not sure if wearing two is really necessary but being surrounded by so many electrical gadgets I felt I needed all the help I could get.

So what's changed?

I got rid of the Wi-Fi internet connection in my house.

To read more of this Wi-Fi article


The Difference Between Men And Women

We all know men and women are totally different and not just physically. Our brains don’t work the same and it’s true to say we often don’t understand each other.

Males and females also do things differently as this e-mail I received today highlights.


A new sign in the Bank Lobby reads:

"Please note that this Bank is installing new Drive-through ATM machines enabling customers to withdraw cash without leaving their vehicles. Customers using this new facility are requested to use the procedures outlined below when accessing their accounts.

After months of careful research, MALE & FEMALE PROCEDURES have been developed.

Please follow the appropriate steps for your gender.”


1. Drive up to the cash machine.
2. Put down your car window.
3. Insert card into machine and enter PIN.
4. Enter amount of cash required and withdraw.
5. Retrieve card, cash and receipt.
6. Put window up.
7. Drive off.


1. Drive up to cash machine.
2. Reverse and back up the required amount to align car window with the machine.
3. Set parking brake, put the window down.
4. Find handbag, remove all contents on to passenger seat to locate card.
5. Tell person on your mobile phone you will call them back and hang up.
6. Attempt to insert card into machine.
7. Open car door to allow easier access to machine due to its excessive distance from the car.
8. Insert card.
9. Re-insert card the right way.
10. Dig through handbag to find diary with your PIN written on the inside back page.
11. Enter PIN.
12. Press cancel and re-enter correct PIN.
13. Enter amount of cash required.
14. Check makeup in rear view mirror.
15. Retrieve cash and receipt.

(Unfortunately a lot of that is true!)

To read more differences between males and females see my Just For Fun page at www.jeanshaw.com


Smiling Is Infectious And Certainly Makes You Feel Good

If ever I am feeling a bit down I just smile. There's something about the action that just makes me feel better even if I have nothing specific to smile about, and I just love the following poem.

Smiling is infectious, you catch it like the 'flu
When someone smiled at me today I started smiling too
I passed around the corner and someone saw my grin
When he smiled I realised I'd passed it on to him

I thought about that little smile then realised its worth
A single smile, just like mine could travel round the earth
So if you feel a smile begin don't leave it undetected
Let's start an epidemic quick and get the world infected!

Today, however, I had good reason to smile. I received the following in an e-mail from a very good friend and although I've read them before they just brightened up my day.

Hope they do the same for you.

Did I Read That Sign Right?

On a Restroom DoorToilet
Out of order. Please use the floor below.

In a Laundromat
Automatic washing machines. Please remove all your clothes when the light goes out.

In a London department store
Bargain basement upstairs.

In an office
Would the person who took the step ladder yesterday please bring it back or further steps will be taken.

In an office
After tea break staff should empty the teapot and stand upside down on the draining board.

Outside a second-hand shop
We exchange anything – bicycles, washing machines, etc. Why not bring your wife along and get a wonderful bargain?

Notice in health food shop window
Closed due to illness.

Spotted in a safari park
Elephants please stay in your cars.

Seen during a conference
For anyone who has children and doesn't know it, there is day care on the 1st floor.

Notice in a farmer's field
The farmer allows walkers to cross the field for free, however, the bull charges.

Message on a leaflet
If you cannot read, this leaflet will tell you how to get lessons.

On a repair shop door

We can repair anything. (Please knock hard on the door – the bell doesn't work).



Autism - Dancing on Hallowed Ground

If you read my last post you will remember I mentioned Ely Cathedral. Over the years this amazing building been famed for its choirs and organ recitals. It has been featured on the television on several occasions but on Saturday evening it was the host to my son’s dance group.

The Lantern Dance Theatre Group is an integrated company with almost half the performers having severe learning difficulties. However, the “normal” dancers are amazing with them and the performances are brilliant.

This latest performance was quite adventurous with three different pieces of music which actually comprised five different dances. It lasted about an hour and a half which is a long time for anyone to stay quiet.

My autistic son was brilliant though and even when he was not performing and had to stand waiting in the back room ready to come on he remained relatively silent. This was just as well as sounds echo in the vast high ceilinged building covered in amazing stone carvings.

However, it would not have mattered because Jodi is accepted as he is and although the dancers are very serious about their work he is not seen as a distraction. Infact, they see my son as a tonic - a light relief when they are stressed. At eighteen he still possesses that child like innocence with no need to pretend. He often expresses in his own way the things the others might wish to.

The performance touched everyone and there was an air of disbelief at the end. The production was well attended and the comments were far more than that it was "nice". People were genuinely moved.

However, they said things like, “That’s amazing – you wouldn’t think “they” would be able to do that”.

Why not?

Just because someone has a disability it doesn’t mean they can’t necessarily do things. Autism may not be the best diagnosis but it’s not life threatening and the possibilities are endless. All it takes is opportunity and a bit of give and take.

Inclusion can make a big difference to people's lives and not just for the people with a disability. Ask anyone who is involved. (See my Autism and Interdependence post of 18th May)

Why Did Harley-Davidson Come To Littleport?

I live in a small village called Littleport which is set in the fenland countryside of East Anglia. Close by is the city of Ely which boasts a very famous cathedral dating back over 1000 years. The Ship Of The Fens which took 300 years to build towers over the flat landscape and attracts many visitors.

Not so Littleport – at least not normally.

However, last weekend was a bit different.

Suddenly our quite streets came alive to the distinctive sight and sound of hog riders as they rode their Harley Davidson’s

Why did they come?

Well William S Harley of the Harley-Davidson name was born here and still has relations in the area. We’ve got an expensive metal statue of a Harley bike opposite St George’s Church, an estate agent named Harleys and also a shop selling the bikes.

Yes, Littleport is doing its bit for international relations and apart from the Littleport Riots in the 1800’s and the terrible floods in 1947 that’s probably how Littleport will be remembered.

If you want to know what I think about the place you can read my poem


Set within the fenlands is the village I call home
Littleport’s expanding fast, it certainly has grown
The locals are all friendly and most will say “hello”
They’ll smile and pass the time of day – it wasn’t always so

Back in the 1800’s that may not have been the case
For taxes led to riots causing havoc in the place
Some labourers went to prison, five hung by their necks
Others went to New South Wales, names changed to keep respect

Years have passed now senseless crime gives Littleport a name
Like vandalism, petty theft by people with no shame
If punishments as years before were deportation, hanging, prison
These mindless individuals might have a different vision

Littleport’s got a lot to offer, has all the shops we need
Butcher, baker, grocer, library for those who read
We have a new health centre, optician, dentist too
Turf accountant if you want to bet, Tattoo parlour –yes that’s true

We’ve a handy bank, Post Office and a useful launderette
Sports centre, pubs and garages, and free parking don’t forget
Two local schools and playgroups, a drop in centre too,
Chapels, Halls, St. George’s Church to suit your point of view

If you’re looking for a carpet, hardware or DIY
Special gift or wedding suit, Main Street’s the place to try
We’ve restaurants and takeaways for all who like to eat
Hairdressers and chiropodist for bad hair or troubled feet

There’s an accountant if you need one, solicitors as well
And even estate agents if you’ve a house to rent or sell
We’ve a very pleasant river, fire station that’s just fine
And a useful railway station which serves the London line

As transport links get better the employment’s not just farming
Industrial parks are growing up with a speed that’s quite alarming
But still we have the rich fen soil and dark and fertile means
Sugar beet, potatoes, wheat, barley, oats and beans

Historically there’s been an annual show where produce was displayed
But development’s meant the site has gone so locals are dismayed
For people came from miles around to celebrate the day
Even Harley riders from as far as USA

Yes, Littleport has got quite a lot, for a village its okay
It’s where I chose to make my home and where I’ll likely stay

Jean Shaw©2007


No Sun Tanned Skin For Me - Doctors Orders!

I'm writing this article outside in the sunshine. Well, actually that's not completely true.

I am outside and the sun is shining beautifully but I'm sitting in the shade. As much as I'd like to feel the heat of the sun on my exposed limbs my days of sunbathing have gone - doctors orders!

Like many people I love to have a tan. It has always made me feel healthier (and slimmer) somehow, and from my mid teens until my early thirties I spent many a happy hour soaking up the sun's rays.

But not any more.

I have done so much damage to my skin over the years that if I had one of those special skin X-rays done I would look about ninety! I've had all sorts of things burned, frozen or cut out and it has to stop before I get the kind of skin cancer that cannot be treated.



Autism and Interdependence

One of the biggest problems for people with disabilities, particularly those with a learning disability like autism is the limited opportunity for social inclusion. Here's a poem I've written about it.

Strangers are Friends Waiting To Happen

Jean Shaw ©2007

Inclusion isn't easy, there's steps we all must make
It requires co-operation, a bit of give and take
People make assumptions based on what they see
So being part of my community is hard for one like me

First you must be present, be seen around the place
So you can have a presence, become a familiar face
But in order to participate, get involved like fellow "brothers"
To interact, feel comfortable, requires the help of others

Inclusion isn't easy, I can't do it on my own
My learning disability means I can't be left alone
I need support, a network, friends and family who agree
They're there for just one reason - they want the best for me

Everyone has a right to life, do the things they like to do
Just because I have a problem doesn't mean I'm less than you
Known as Interdependence, natural help, support and aid
To someone who's disabled such a difference it has made

So if you see me out sometime don't just stare and let things end
For if you really got to know me - Who knows? – We could be friends
Inclusion isn't easy, there's steps we all must make
It requires co-operation, a bit of give and take

For more on autism visit http://www.jeanshaw.com


Autism, Probiotics And The Lowly Sandwich

My son has autism and like many autistic individuals his diet had been a major issue.

It is getting better though.

Until he developed autism after his MMR vaccine my son would eat anything. He was a delight to feed.

However, things changed and for years he literally lived on Hoola Hoops. They are small round potato rings with very little nutritional value what so ever.

They come in packs and are ideal for transportation as they don't crush like packets of crisps. I should know as I have often carried suitcases full of them when we have travelled. The only consolation for that is they are light!

Hoola Hoops are convenience foods and ideal to put as an extra in a lunch box. They are better than crisps because they contain less salt, colourings and flavourings than most brands and now, according to the packet, contain 55% less saturated fat than they did in 2006!

Since they were the only things my son would eat he used to take four packets to school with him every day. As desert he would have a packet of Polos. These are round mints with holes in them.

Notice the similarities? – both round with holes in them.

He would eat the same at home, so his staple diet was Hoola Hoops and Polos washed down with fruit juice, never water. We gave him various vitamins and minerals to supplement.

Not any more!

Over the years we have tried all sorts of things with him but by far the most important intervention was to de-tox him for mercury. From then on his diet improved and since we introduced an amazing probiotic he now eats sandwiches, amongst other things which make life a whole lot easier.

I am so grateful to John Montagu. (read more and watch video)

World's First Probiotic Super Food certified Organic to Food Grade Standards


Writing Articles - Qui docet, discit – He who teaches, learns

I heard on the news today Latin is going to be taught in secondary schools. In my day it was only ever taught at the grammar schools. I don' t know why . Well, perhaps I do. It wasn't that it was elitist - just hard!

Even forty years ago it was considered a dead language, only useful if you wanted to be a doctor,lawyer, or horticulturalist. However, one thing in it's favour was that it remained constant, unlike modern languages which can be somewhat fluid.

Learning Latin was like slow torture but it did give me a good understanding of other languages and even made English make sense.

Today I've forgotten most of my Latin but thankfully my English is still pretty good. That's probably why I've just been made a Platimum Ezine Articles Author.
I've even got the badge to prove it.

EzineArticles.com Platinum Author

How about that then?


Insomnia – Why You Need Quality Sleep.

Last night I had a really restless night and today I feel really tired and lethargic.

It's my own fault though. I did something I shouldn't and had a guilty conscience.

Now don't get all excited and think I'm going to reveal something really juicy or controversial. It's nothing like that.

You see my son has autism. He also has a huge collection of old videos which he rarely watches. They just take up space.

This weekend he went away for respite care and as he has just celebrated his 18th birthday I decided to get rid of some of the older ones which I considered inappropriate for his age.

Actually, I could have got rid of most of them using those criteria, but like most people with autism my son likes familiar things so the ones he's watched since a child are his favourites.

Anyway, whilst he was gone I placed some of them outside the door of a local charity shop feeling good that someone else might get enjoyment from them.

However, when I collected my son from his respite care yesterday afternoon he proudly produced two new videos. Apparently he'd found them in some charity shops.

My heart sank – not because he's brought home some more but because the two he'd just bought were different episodes of the videos I'd just given away. I realised he must have been collecting them.

My son doesn't really speak so I had no way of knowing but once the possibility hit me I knew I had to get them back.

I couldn't sleep. I tossed and turned and thought what a rotten mother I was until eventually I could stand it no longer. As dawn was breaking I left my son sleeping in the care of his elder brother and went to the shop to try and retrieve them.

I felt like some sort of thief and hoped no-one would see me but they'd gone!

Read more ...


Time - Use It Wisely

Last night I rushed around shopping, cleaning and doing all sorts so that today I would be free to do the things I really "had to do".

The day started well enough. I got up early, sent my autistic son off to school and started on those oh so important tasks.

Then my dad turned up.

He had twelve runner bean plants which he wanted to put in my garden so I stopped what I was doing and went with him.

My intention was to quickly sort out some bamboo sticks for the beans to climb up and then get on with what I'd thought so vital. However, I ended up sorting out the rotorvator, hoeing the garden, pulling up stinging nettles and generally helping my dad to tidy the garden up.

He's not been in the best of health. He'll be eighty this year. He's had a hip replacement, has arthritis, angina and is just recovering from prostate cancer but remains as cheerful and active as possible.

He likes to keep busy but I didn't like the idea of him doing too much manual work on his own so I stayed to help.

And you know what? – It was brilliant!

I didn't get any of my chores done but I did get to spend several hours with my dad outside in the fresh air.

Today may not have gone as I'd planned but I couldn't have been happier.

The jobs I needed to do will still be there tomorrow but I can't guarantee my dad will.

Time is the one thing we can't replace. Use it wisely!

Cows Milk - My Inspiration For Today's Blog

One of the reasons I've never blogged is because I felt I had nothing to say. However, recently on the BBC news the issue of many children being allergic to cows milk was discussed and I realised I actually knew something about that.

As you know if you've read my earlier posts I have an autistic son and he is allergic to casein. That's the protein found in dairy products.

Many people suffer from it but because dairy products make up a large proportion of most diets, people just don't want to know.

However, cows milk was only ever designed for calves and even they are weaned off it. Humans are the only mammals which continue to drink milk and what you buy in the shop isn't the same as what comes directly from the cow either.

I don't know if you are aware of it but cows actually have four stomachs. Their digestive system is much different from ours and their milk quite simply isn't designed for people.

Apart from the fact it most likely contains chemicals, growth hormones, allergenic proteins, antibiotics, bacteria, viruses, pus and blood, the casein content is considerably higher than that of human milk.

After all, a calf will grow to roughly 1000 lbs on its mother's milk but human milk is only supposed to take an infant up to about 40 lbs. It's also estimated that the casein content in cows milk is about 20 times higher than in human milk which is why we can't digest the proteins very well.

The result for many is allergic reactions and high mucous levels in our bowels and noses.

The discussion today was of the high incidence of eczema in babies and young children and the need to make doctors more aware of the possiblity of cows milk being the cause.

It seems for most, simply removing the milk was enough to reduce and often eliminate the distressing symptoms of eczema.

Just thought you might want to know.

Read my article on Cows Milk


Snoring - Why It Almost Got My Autistic Son Killed

Apparently, snoring is the third most likely reason for marriage breakups and whilst that's unlikely to affect my autistic son it has caused problems.

My son snores - not all the time but when he does you do not want to be in the same room as him.

One of the nice things about autism, however, is that it can make you completely oblivious to the effect you have on other people.

Read how my son's snoring almost got him killed!

Autism - Why You Need A Circle Of Friends

My autistic son has just celebrated his 18th birthday and it was a very emotional affair for me.

Autism is a life long disability but it is not life threatening. I therefore always knew that unless he had some terrible accident or fatal illness he would reach adulthood.

However, I never expected he would be able to celebrate it in the way he did.

Read how having a circle of friends made all the difference.

Hello and Welcome

Hello and welcome to my first post.

Please excuse the lack of originality in the name of this blog but I like to keep things simple.

Basically I am a mother of two boys, one of whom has autism.

In a moment of what can only be described as menopausal madness I decided I would enter the world of internet marketing and it has certainly been a revelation!

This blog may suit anyone who is remotely interested in autism, organics, health issues, what not to do with internet marketing (I'm good at that!), and just general "stuff".

I know you are all busy but if you have the time and want to drop by sometimes I'd love to see you.

Meanwhile, if you want to find out more about me please visit www.jeanshaw.com