During my 20s, I realised my speech impairment and drooling made me a 'freak', which I regard as a positive term, and therefore there was little point conforming if it was not helping me. This realisation gave me the freedom to try bibs, helmets, nappies, cups and other devices that could help me have a comfortable lifestyle, especially in an era when these were not as acceptable as today.
This is an enormous debate and affects countries far beyond the UK, but the recent UK election demonstrates clearly how the public are losing faith in a traditional approach to politics. Democracy can be difficult for most politicians to swallow, but if they don't listen to the people it's going to choke them all.
"Education. Education. Education." This was the cornerstone of New Labour, a platform for unprecedented levels of social mobility, which helped prepare the way for Tony Blair's landslide victory in the 1997 general election. So why are we still in a situation where 83% of Oxbridge students are from only 400 elite schools? The answer is complex.
Unless a child follows the 'special education' path from birth and has a statement (or EHCP as it's now known) in place for the beginning of their educational journey, us parents have no choice other than to plunge our child into the mainstream school and cover our eyes, hoping for the best when we do it.
Crossing the road to my office from lunch recently, a tiny girl ran after me and held my hand to ask for money. I told her that it is not right for children to beg. She looked at me sternly as if daring me to do anything about it. Looking over my shoulder I saw her young mother sitting by the roadside keenly watching, encouraging her.
We have an opportunity in Nepal to apply the best of what we have learned globally to be a partner saving lives and enabling the Nepali people to rebuild their country. The coordination of some of the greatest humanitarian and development leadership of our time will not only save lives, it can lead to increased resilience for the Nepali people. This will require that we leave 'business as usual' by prioritising and funding education in this response. And we should leave it behind permanently by creating a Global Humanitarian Fund for Education in Emergencies and increasing our ability to rapidly respond, coordinate and deliver education in ways that save lives now and for many years to come.
I recall memorising the timeline of human prehistory when I was twelve - Paleolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic - from the fresh first pages of my history textbook. It was past midnight, and their quirky names numbed my tongue and befuddled my brain. Nevertheless, I forcibly committed them to memory, motivated by the promise that hard work at school will one day pay off...
Like parents and teachers, we want to give children the best start in life by giving every young person the chance to learn first aid. There is nothing worse than feeling helpless in an emergency and although we hope they'll never need to use these skills, Bethany's story proves that first aid knowledge can be a real lifeline.
At first glance, the importance placed by all of the main parties on supporting apprenticeships, vocational training, careers advice and widening participation build on the commitments in the 2010 manifestos and are to be welcomed. We must though learn the lessons of the last five years, where the actual record is more mixed.
This week I have written to Ed Miliband, calling on him to guarantee the status of England's existing 164 grammar schools in the event he becomes Prime Minister. Why? Because a new poll conducted by ComRes has found four in ten (39 per cent) believe Labour will axe the remaining grammar schools if they win the election.