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Published: Mon, 23 Apr 2018 16:12:33 +0000

Copyright: copyright AOL 2018

Barbara Bush Deserves A Better Eulogy - Alcohol In Pregnancy Is No Laughing Matter

Mon, 23 Apr 2018 16:12:33 +0000


I tuned into the funeral of former First Lady Barbara Bush out of respect for a strong woman. Not thirty seconds into my viewing, historian Jon Meacham repeated the quip that has been going around since she died, “You want to know why George W. is the way he is… Because I drank and smoked while I was pregnant with him.” The room full of former presidents and other leaders erupted into laughter. I froze. Then I turned off my television. My heart was racing.Thousands of miles away from my home country, I hoped my child with Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder did not hear. I have to keep him away from presidential news these days with all the talk of porn stars, crude language and other shenanigans for which the current White House occupant is known.I never dreamed I would have to be similarly on guard during the funeral of a classy former First Lady – a woman we loved for her chocolate chip cookie recipes, for heaven’s sake. Those days seem so far from the current tackiness that now consumes 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. And yet, I should have known.Barbara Bush was born in an era when people were still considering eugenics for those with learning disabilities (if you doubt the seriousness of this, look up the origins of the word ‘moron’). And here we still are. During an internationally televised formal event bidding farewell to a woman who served as a role model for millions, it’s still sadly okay to joke about drinking during pregnancy, to mock those with intellectual disabilities, and to perpetuate stigma.Shame on them all. It’s not okay to lighten your own heartache at the expense of others.Damage to a developing brain by exposure to alcohol in the womb is devastating and lifelong.I sat there, worrying about the impact that careless and crude laughter of all those dignitaries might have had on adults with FASD who might have been watching. I thought of the disbelief of their families, loved ones, and the professionals who try hard to get them services in a world that still thinks it’s ok to joke about it.I worried about the future for our 13-year-old. He struggles hard every day of his life to cope with compromised brain wiring. He becomes overwhelmed by sensory input that most of us take for granted. He uses all his focus to try to get by in a world designed for neurotypical brains. Some days he gives so much energy just to keep it together at his specialist school that he comes home and has a meltdown. He tries so very hard, does he deserve to see a room full of people he is supposed to look up to laughing about his condition? Of course not. How could I ever explain it to him? Why should I have to?FASD is a spectrum – people have a range of IQs and other abilities. Our son is an excellent singer, dancer and gymnast. Some with FASD have quite high IQs. With diagnosis and support people with FASD can do amazing things. But nearly all with FASD have trouble with executive functioning – linking cause and effect, thinking abstractly, controlling impulses. They need external support to help organise themselves in a complicated world. They are prone to addictions and secondary mental health issues.But actually, it’s not inconceivable that someone exposed to alcohol in utero might become president. It would be fascinating – perhaps even transformative - if former President George W. Bush were to seriously explore whether or not there is truth to his mother’s seemingly off-hand remark. Imagine the power a high-visibility person like a former president could bring to the cause, whether or not he might prove to have FASD. Not everyone whose mother drank during pregnancy will have FASD. Scientists do not yet know how to determine which women who drink during pregnancy will give birth to a child with the condition. What we do believe is that FASD is more prevalent than autism, though it is far less understood and often misdiagnosed. The advice from the world’s leading experts is to avoid alcohol if you are pregnant or trying to get pregnan[...]

Media Files:

I Asked My Ex 10 Questions About Our Relationship And It Emotionally Crippled Me

Mon, 23 Apr 2018 16:07:30 +0000


I’m the kind of girl that if we break up, you will never see or hear from me again. Most of my breakups have been relatively ugly and I have always cut my ex-lovers out of my life for good. Firstly, because it’s better for my mental health, and secondly, I just don’t have space for that kind of negativity in my life - there’s enough of it within myself that I need to deal with. Yet sometimes I still wonder what my exes would have to say about me, since I’m not on talking terms with any of them. So, after talking to some friends about it and long nights of tossing the idea around, I decided to do it; I decided to reach out and interview an ex of mine. I believed I was strong enough and could handle the answers whatever they might be. I wrote up 10 questions and reached out to two of my high school ‘sweethearts.’ In a few days, I received a reply from one of them. She only agreed to answer my questions if she’d be able to read the finished product. I agreed but a few days later she asked me for another favour. She wanted me to answer the same questions but about her. My heart sank, this was not part of the plan and immediately sent me down the endless rabbit hole of anxiety.It’s not that I still had feelings for her and was expecting something to happen from this interaction. She was also in, what it seemed like, a new happy relationship. And I had been with other people since our breakup. But her asking for me to answer 10 simple questions sent me spiralling. The project had taken an unexpected turn. I was caught off guard and felt like I’d lost control over the situation. And I didn’t like it. I didn’t understand why she would want these answers from me, after all she was in a happy relationship and shouldn’t need anything from me. But I agreed, because it sounded fair. She was doing something nice for me, so I owed her.I just didn’t expect the tables to be turned on me, as I started answering my own probing questions, I felt physically ill. I was shaking and felt like I was going to throw up. The idea behind my ex answering my questions was for me to reflect on myself. How I’ve grown and what I could possibly learn from my past relationships and mistakes. Yet it left me feeling worse than ever. I was stuck answering questions about a person I hadn’t seen in five years. A person that was once my best friend, my girlfriend and then a nobody.I was forced to imagine the person I was 5-6 years ago, which was scary. It’s not like I was a bad person in high school, but I was a completely different version of my current self. Possibly better in some ways, worse in others. Definitely with less mental issues. But here are the answers she gave me.1.What first attracted you to me? Could’ve been the fact that the first time I met you, I was holding you up in a garden because you’d drunk so much you were throwing up everywhere! But I’d have to say that your smile and your laugh is what really won me over; the shit jokes and attempts at sarcasm really helped though. 2.What’s your favourite/least favourite memory of me? Geography camp. My first real memory of us being ‘us’. From holding your hand on the bus to our teacher growling us for ‘whispering too loud’ when really we were kissing and cuddling on those terrible mattresses. I have so many memories of you but that first one will always be my favourite. Least favourite, easy. The day you left. My heart broke into a million pieces.3.What did we have in common? If anything? Music, photography and writing. I think those were the things we had the most in common. Aside from your hatred of country music, our music tastes were much the same and swapping songs was always one of my favourite pass-times with you. I think I mostly enjoyed photography and design at school because I got to sit next to you. Writing. English, Year 13. Writing in general and writing about you was as easy as breathing. 4.Why/how did we[...]

Media Files:

Toddler Groups: Sanity Saver Or Nest Of Vipers?

Mon, 23 Apr 2018 16:04:01 +0000


Every day thousands of baby and toddler groups take place in churches and community venues across the country. Different from their more formal cousin, the baby and toddler class, they are intended to be a way for parents of under 5s to meet each other while the children burn off some energy. They have a reputation for draughty halls, dirty toys, tantruming toddlers and bad coffee, but what they are most often known for, is cliques and bitchiness.So what makes people go? Well, parenting can be lonely and, much of the time, mind numbingly boring. Boring enough that, if you don’t have friends or family with small children close by, desperation will make you want to spend two hours in a room with other people’s screaming kids as well as your own, drinking bad coffee and attempting to make small talk with strangers. At least that’s what made me visit my first toddler group. My son was 18 months old, all my friends with children lived far away and I hadn’t exactly taken to parenting like a duck to water. So, in the hope of making some local mummy friends, I took myself off to the local church one Monday morning. It didn’t go well. I do not exaggerate when I say that no one spoke to me. Everyone seemed to have their own little group of friends with no room for one more. What’s worse was that the doors were locked, to thwart any toddler escape plans, so I didn’t even feel like I could get up and leave without drawing attention to my lonely state. Towards the end of the session my son banged his face, just next to his eye. It was bleeding and he was screaming blue murder and still no one spoke to me. Unsurprisingly, I didn’t go back. About nine months later my son developed an irrational fear of other children, cowering in terror when they came anywhere near him. That, along with the fear that my postnatal depression would return after my daughter was born in a few months time, pushed me to give toddler groups another go.I decided to try a different one, and that I would just focus on helping my son get used to other children, if I made friends that was a bonus. It was hard to start with. I spent most of the time playing cars with my son, which I could have done at home with better coffee. I can remember each week reporting back to my husband how many people had spoken to me. I stuck it out and the number slowly increased. New people came who also didn’t know anyone and we banded together and became friends. Eventually I came to look forward to Tuesday mornings and so did my son.When my daughter was three months old the lady who ran the group moved away and I somehow ended up taking over from her. I was keen to make the group friendly and tried to introduce new people and make sure they felt welcome. But it wasn’t easy. The wonderful group of friends I had made didn’t seem all that keen on talking to new people. And that’s when I realised that people don’t not talk to the new mum at toddler group because they are mean, they are simply creatures of habit and look forward each week to sitting in their favourite corner and catching up with their friends. They are also exhausted by parenthood and making small talk with strangers is hard work compared to having a moan about your toddler’s tantrums to a mum you already know won’t judge you because your kids drove you to drink well before wine o’clock.So what should you do if you want to learn to love toddler groups but are struggling? For me the key was sticking with it. If you keep going long enough other newbies will come and you will be the one who welcomes them. Plus, if you just keep going the regulars will realise you’re there to stay and eventually make the effort. Play with your child, play with other people’s children if you can face it. Offer to help out, even if it’s just tidying up at the end. Most importantly remember, just because they aren’t talking to you, it doesn’t mean they are [...]

Media Files:

New Westminster Bullying Inquiry Risks Giving MPs A ‘Clean Slate’ For Past Misconduct, FDA Union Warns

Mon, 23 Apr 2018 15:55:22 +0000


An independent inquiry into bullying and harassment at Westminster risks giving guilty MPs a “clean slate” for past misconduct, the senior civil servants’ union has warned.The First Division Association (FDA) hit out after it emerged that the new probe will not look into allegations against individuals, including claims that Commons Speaker John Bercow mistreated his staff.The inquiry’s terms of reference were announced on Monday by ‘non-executive’ members of the House of Commons Commission that oversees Parliament’s management and internal issues.It will be led by former judge Dame Laura Cox QC. Dame Laura, who will act alone, will conduct her review in private and deliver an interim report before Parliament’s summer recess.But while she will “consider all allegations and information presented” to her, the probe “will not conduct an investigation into any individual complaints or reopen past cases”, her spokesman said.“It is an inquiry, not an investigation,” according to a media statement on Dame Laura’s behalf. data-provider="youtube" data-published="April 23, 2018 15:57" data-videovertical="" id="ytplayer" type="text/html" src="" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0">The inquiry was set up after BBC’s Newsnight reported that Speaker Bercow, plus Labour MP Paul Farrelly and Tory MP Mark Pritchard, had bullied Parliamentary ‘clerks’, officials who work in the Commons and Lords.Newsnight reported last month that one female clerk suffered post-traumatic stress  disorder (PTSD) after she worked for Bercow and cited witnesses who saw him undermine and shout at her.The FDA union, which represents Parliamentary clerks as well as other senior Whitehall civil servants, was scathing about the decision to look only into the ‘culture’ at Westminster rather than specific accusations.FDA Assistant General Secretary Amy Leversidge said that while she welcomed the inquiry as an important first step, “our fear is that the inquiry is doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past if it does not consider previous and existing cases”. “The failure to consider existing and past complaints by the inquiry will potentially result in a ‘clean slate’ for the perpetrators of bullying and harassment, rather than the promised closure for staff,” she said.The FDA seized on Dame Laura’s announcement that no existing route of complaints by staff will be affected by the inquiry, a sign that the current ‘Respect’ policy used by the Commons will continue.“Since the inquiry was set up with the intention to investigate the failings of the current Respect Policy it is evidently clear that directing staff to continue to use that policy is inappropriate. This was a significant issue of concern when the Respect Policy was introduced and one of the reasons why staff have no confidence in the current system.“The FDA urged the inquiry team to consider these fundamental issues before publishing their terms of reference and are frustrated that once again a ‘year zero’ approach could be adopted if any new policy is introduced.”Dame Laura wrote to all current and former Parliamentary staff on Monday urging them to come forward in confidence to tell of their experiences.She stressed that no Parliamentarian will be involved in the conduct of the inquiry.Dame Janet Gaymer, one of the two non-executive members of the Commons Commission who decided the terms of reference, said a final report would be delivered by the autumn.“In appointing someone of the calibre and expertise of Dame Laura Cox, we are demonstrating our intention that those working for the House of Commons can be confident that the appropriate processes are in place to ensure that they are treated appropriately and fairly at all times,” she said.&ldqu[...]

Media Files:

Windrush Generation Will Have Have British Citizenship Fees Waived, Amber Rudd Announces

Mon, 23 Apr 2018 15:49:42 +0000



The Windrush generation will be entitled to gain British citizenship at no cost, Amber Rudd has announced.

Speaking in the Commons on Monday afternoon, the home secretary revealed the government will waive citizenship and language tests fees in the wake of the scandal that saw people wrongly threatened with deportation.

Rudd confirmed victims will be paid compensation.

“It was never the intention that the Windrush generation should be disadvantaged by measures put in place to tackle illegal immigration,” Rudd said.

Fees for any children of the generation who want to apply for naturalisation will be dropped.

And charges linked to returning to Britain for those who had retired to their countries of origin after making their lives in the UK would also be waived.

“These people worked here for decades. In many cases they helped establish the NHS. They paid the taxes, enriched our culture, they are British in all but legal status - and this should never have been allowed to happen,” Rudd said.

“The state has let these people down,” she added. “I will put this right.”

Labour has demanded Rudd resign over the crisis which has seen migrants who came to the UK after World War II wrongly threatened with deportation.

Rudd told MPs the Home Office has so far found no Windrush citizens who have been wrongly deported.

Diane Abbott, the shadow home secretary, accused Rudd of trying to avoid blame. “She is the home secretary. She allowed it to happen,” she said.

“My parents, brothers and sisters and cousins largely worked in the NHS, in factories, in London transport.

“This was a generation with unparalleled commitment to this country. Unparalleled pride in being British. Unparalleled commitment to had work.

“It is shameful that this government has treated this generation in this way.”

Theresa May is also under pressure for implementing the “hostile environment” policy towards immigrants while running the Home Office.

Media Files:

No Alexandra Shulman, Women Shouldn't Stop Wearing Frills When They're 40

“The one thing that looks frightful as you age is a swamp of frilly fabric,” wrote Alexandra Shulman, the former Editor-in-Chief of British Vogue, in a guide on how to master ageless style.

Writing for The Telegraph’s Stella Magazine, the 60-year-old advised women to avoid frills along with tiers, flounces and bows - which she regards as “completely unacceptable in ageless style, not working for most people past the age of two”.

Though Shulman’s advice did touch upon dressing for your authentic self and in what makes you feel comfortable, we say, your authentic self can also be dynamic, fun and daring. A woman over 40 (or indeed any age) can rock a three piece suit one day and can also be seen in a frilled gown the next, and still be dressing for herself, right?

“The core of how we dress should be our personal style, which also makes us feel the person we like to be,” Shulman wrote. So what if looking like the red senorita emoji is who we want to be? Does it matter if off-shoulder frills are on the body of someone who may be older?

There are so many examples of how a diverse range of women beyond 40 can dress, especially when it comes to challenging the outmoded idea that you should ‘dress for your age’.

Maximalist Iris Apfel has grown to be popular as a fashion influencer for all ages; someone who really believes in dressing for you (which Shulman does advise) and not for anyone else around you. The designer is known for her flamboyant accessories, colours and textures.

A post shared by Iris Apfel (@iris.apfel) on