Friday, 28 July 2017

The Status Squares are here!

Status Squares:

An innovative new tool to make invisible symptoms, visible.

We recently launched StatusSquares.


These wearable token units mean that needs and symptoms can be easily and effectively communicated, and as an individual’s status changes, they can be updated by flipping the token over, or swapping it for another token.

These simple units can help in so many different situations (at school, home, social event, medical appointment or work) and are relevant to many disabilities/conditions (fatigue, anxiety, autism, selective mutism, pain, depression - and a whole host of other conditions). 

Having a straight forward and effective way to show how you are, or what your needs are takes away the pressure of constantly having to explain or answer questions. A tool that allows you to show when you need time alone, or time to recharge and when you want company. 

In a school context, it allows teachers and parents to instantly see how the child is feeling/coping when they first arrive and put the appropriate support in place without the need to ask questions - especially as, when struggling, the effort of having to answer the questions can be enough to trigger a meltdown or worsening symptoms. 

They also allow children (and adults) with conditions involving pain or fatigue to communicate how they are without feeling they will be told off for 'complaining'.

And as your status changes throughout the day, the Status Square can be updated by flipping the token over, or swapping it for another token.
 
There are 2 main fastenings - a metal clip, or a sturdy badge reel with 40cm retractable cord and a belt clip, but they can also be used with lanyards, keyrings etc.

Made of medical grade plastic, with laminated vinyl latex stickers, the 'clip' versions are totally latex free.

We currently have 5 different double sided tokens, and the 2 different unit attachment options.

The Status Squares can be ordered here.

If you are interested in becoming a stockist, or placing a bulk order, please email us on admin@stickmancommunications.co.uk to discuss options.

Here's a clip of the squares in action:

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Is everyone a 'little bit autistic'?

I have many friends who are autistic.

And I often hear people who are not autistic trying to show acceptance, and relate to an autistic person by saying things like "Yes, I'm a bit autistic too, because I don't like change/don't like loud noises/stim/[insert appropriate phrase here] too" or use the phrase "everyone is a bit autistic" to try and be inclusive.

Now here's the thing.
Loud noises make my spine cringe. If words are too loud I really struggle to understand what they mean. It's like I'm having to use so much energy up to cope with the loudness I can't focus on the meaning.
I have poor proprioception (I don't know where my body is in space when I'm relaxed). Pressure helps me know. So does movement. So when tired and trying to concentrate I may rock, or sit on my hands or on my feet, or wrap things tightly round my hands or fidget, or stretch repeatedly, or one of lots of other things that gives my brain enough input to stop having to work out where my limbs are so it can focus its fatigue-limited resources on more interesting things. Essentially: I stim.

Surely that makes me a bit autistic?

Actually, for me, they're part of my hypermobility syndrome.

I find it totally understandable that some autistic people stim, and it's something I can relate to, but I'm not autistic.
I wear ear plugs when I go to concerts, but I'm not autistic.

I am not on the autistic spectrum.

Because (as I understand it) the autistic spectrum isn't a spectrum from 'a little bit autistic' to 'very autistic'.

Everyone on the autistic spectrum is autistic. They have a different way of processing things to me (who is not autistic). The 'spectrum' part relates to individual variations within the autistic neurology (although there's probably a better way to word it than that). They each display different traits from multiple parts of the spectrum as part of their autism. For example an autistic person might avoid eye contact, or might make so much eye contact that the non-autistic feels uncomfortable. They might seek a certain sensory input or they might actively try to avoid it - thus making a broad spectrum of traits within the diagnosis of autism. Some traits might be mild or severe  (like obsessive tendencies, or level of verbal communication) but that doesn't make someone more autistic or less autistic. The autistic way of processing is there. It is a part of who they are.

Does my insight into living with poor proprioception mean I know what it's like to be autistic?
No.

Because we don't experience life according to separate symptoms - we experience it as a whole being. For example, I experience poor proprioception alongside my ability to pick up non-verbal signals and hints easily. That means I don't know exactly what it is like to have poor proprioception and a limited ability to process non-verbal signals and hints.

Of course I use the insight from my poor proprioception to help me understand similar traits in autism, but I also need to step back and recognise that I'm not autistic so there will be differences.

"Everyone is a bit autistic" doesn't recognise the differences. It doesn't leave space for differences.

And if there's one thing my disabilities have taught me, it's that I can only flourish when I (and those around me) accept my differences - because then I can learn to live well with my differences. And you can't accept what you don't recognise exists.

So when I want to show that I relate to part of an autistic person's experiences I try to approach it from "That makes sense - I have [insert relevant trait] which has some similarities so what you say sounds familiar - but obviously it's not the same so there's a lot I don't understand."

Recognise the similarities and common ground, but also leave open, respectful, welcoming space for difference.

Because we aren't all a little bit autistic, but we are all human.