I've been at The National Autistic Society (NAS) for over eight years now and I'm still taken aback when I hear just how difficult it is to get a diagnosis - the days, months and years of pain and distress families have to go through just to understand who they are and to have a chance of getting support.
The impacts on everyday tasks are huge. Picking up cutlery on a laid, full table and eating a meal is terrifically tortuous for him such are the fine spatial and visual skills needed. He sees everything, all seemingly separate unconnected objects; this photographic memory is a handicap as well as something incredible.
It's every mother's greatest fear that she will have to leave her children. My daughter Kate Gross lived with that fear for more than two years, before she died of colon cancer a few weeks ago. I wish she was here now so I could tell her that the boys are getting on just fine. Oscar and Isaac were three when Kate was first diagnosed. Twins, but very different little beings. Oscar dark-haired, violet-eyed, solid - and with an astonishing ability (in Kate's words) to 'focus on things, to know them utterly'. Isaac, blond and agile and restless. 'Each of them,' she says, 'carved out his own space in my heart, a space which fits him exactly.'
I don't like my labels. I didn't ask for them, and I would certainly rather I didn't have them. But I do. They don't define me, and they're not all I am, not by a long shot. But accepting them, rather than fighting them, has brought me just that bit closer to being able to manage them. So go ahead, label me, it helps. Just don't judge me.
Right at the beginning of Jerome K Jerome's masterpiece "Three men in a boat," the hero picks up a medical dictionary and discovers that he has the symptoms of every disease mentioned with the exception of housemaid's knee. The prescription he is given surprises him. After beer, steak, exercise and early bedtimes, it ends with the words "and don't stuff up your head with things you don't understand."
For many, these fears don't evaporate when they finish treatment. We spoke to post-cancer patients and found that nearly a third (30%*) felt under pressure to 'bounce back' more quickly that they would have liked after treatment. For more than a quarter (28%) the expected 'euphoria' of being given the 'all clear' was actually replaced by the fact they simply felt 'emotionally drained'.
As atmospheric carbon levels reach seemingly implacable heights, the degree to which sustainable solutions must be implemented follows suit. And yet, little headway has been made on this critical issue, at least according to recent forecasts from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which released its Fifth Assessment Report earlier this year.
When I'm depressed it's really pronounced - I can go from ok to dangerously low to barely contained anger in a matter of hours. When I'm well, my mood tends to follow those around me - if I'm with people who are in good form, I'm in good form. If there's stress or angst around me, I take it on. As Therapist described it today, I'm a chameleon when it comes to mood.
Dyslexia is characterised by difficultly reading, phonological (auditory) encoding problems, poor processing speed and the inability to use language skills effectively. It's also a reading disorder. Recent Professors from Durham and Yale University have suggested that Dyslexia is a Myth, that dyslexia should be abandoned as it lacks scientific clarity and educational value.
It's easy to point the finger at GPs for not picking up on the signs but are they really to blame? Currently, doctors have no training on eating disorders as part of their seven-year degree. They have approximately 10 minutes - if that - with each patient and hardly sufficient to investigate a patient presenting the symptoms.
The CEOs of the world's biggest chemical and agribusiness companies recently petitioned the Presidents of the EU Commission, Parliament and Council to downgrade the Precautionary Principle and focus instead on a new 'Innovation Principle'. On what grounds? That taking an excessively precautionary approach to policy-making and regulation is holding Europe back in the cut-throat world of global competitiveness.
When I was a child, someone was only mad if they thought they were Napoleon or a teapot, and everyone else was 'normal'. Thankfully, things are a little more nuanced now, but how far from 'normal' do you have to get before you have a 'condition'? The answer seems to be: not very far at all. The latest edition of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) was published last month. It lists mental disorders and symptoms, and every edition is fatter than the last. Why is there this boom in new disorders?