A Greek Deja View

Ok, that title suggests something… yup we were in Greece two years ago in May, same time (ish) and certainly the same place ! Plus the views were still incredibly amazing – and we didn’t have too many ‘off’ days either. However we got woken up at 7:30 one morning to an awesomely loud thunderstorm!

Corfu, and the Greek islands are no stranger to a nice dollop of sun. The sea was lovely and clear in many places – I think one of my favourite things to do was walking back along the waters edge after lunch in the little town of Sidari, where we stayed.

I managed to burn myself the first full day we were there – due to me not actually remembering that it was significantly hotter than jolly old England. However, by the end of my holiday you would not have even known I had burned. I seem to brown off so easy when I actually put my cream on!

I did a ton of swimming most days. The first week it was very quiet and the pool is not very big, compared to many others I have ever been in. I felt I had to keep swimming as much as I could as I did not want to return home looking like a potato. I must have swam in excess of almost a thousand lengths on holiday. I was also missing about three sessions of football due to the longevity of holiday and flight days.

Had Greek night twice at the restaurant attached to our hotel and I helped first timers to dance. I had knowledge of how it all happened of an evening (many with Aspergers get scared or frightened if they don’t know what is coming next, so I expect the people that I had spoken to about me having it were probably impressed by my enjoyment of such an evening!!) – Plus I got a chance to dance with one of the men the second week, which was an honour really.

I had pleasure of watching (cue awesome hotel owner) Nikos in his band two nights as well. The music was loud and I enjoyed listening to all (Loud sounds can cause many Autistic people to freak out occasionally but I love a live performance). It is all music that has been done by big names such as Queen, Pink Floyd or such and there was sing-alongs too that we could join in.

We had a bus trip out to Corfu Town on the middle Friday and we managed to pick up an incredible filo pastry cheese pie each, for lunch, which is full of feta and it is totally gorgeous. My dad started feeding the pigeons with crumbs, which made him look like the old bird (wo)man!

I made a few friends plus saw an old one from two years ago. The youngest that I managed to have a conversation with was a boy called George and he was 14. I thought he looked younger, and I guess he would be happy with that but when hes 18 he might still not look his age. Tricky one if you want to buy a pint, that. I had gone over to his parents to tell them who I was – some parents get over protective of their kids in pools with an adult coming up to them to talk. Sad that in this day you can’t trust everyone.

I don’t want to leave this post on a negative so here is what I will do:

This piece was all about my Greek experience this year,
With wonderful yummy food and full of excitement and cheer,
Thanks to my parents that made it possible to holiday here,
Many nights to have fun and to drink a pint of beer!

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Celebrity Obsessions

My life through time has included the more celebrity person orientated obsessional side being outed, as that is a major point in an Aspergian’s life. I wish to tell you how these have affected me.

Firstly the more little of obsessions were over the likes of Anthea Turner, but some didn’t always last that long as others. There is no way to snap us out of an obsession so I’m guessing that is how we are for life! As a young kid, I had no worries of being me and fantasy over such things or people, I found quite acceptable.

My first big obsession was over The Spice Girls. I liked to pretend that they were my imaginary friends and I’d have them in my room. I have pretty much been a fan of them from the beginning. My mum has told me that she thought The Spice Girls were good role models for young girls. My favourite Spice Girl is Emma Bunton, because she is cute and her nickname in the group was Baby. I guess I related to her most because I’m the youngest in my family. Not because of my style: I have none…!

When that had all finished, I found out about Robbie Williams. I didn’t know Take That as I was very young when they were about. I became a Robbie fan around the time I was in a dance group at school and we did a dance to Millennium. So that’s when I decided I would follow him. By the way, he holds the record for the most Brit awards in the world. I have written stories about what I would do if I met him – some I have written late at night and are my best handiwork. I have also had lots of pictures up on my wall of Robbie that I’ve cut from calendars. I’d still like to meet him and I’m off to a concert in June to see him live for the very first time!

My next massive obsessional crush on a celeb is on a TV comedy called ‘Benidorm’ – I didn’t start watching properly till about series 5. One actor in the cast I got attached to is Jake Canuso. He plays Mateo the Spanish barman (although he’s Italian). I had found him on Twitter and then got talking to him on there and told him about my disability, which he found possibly a bit scary at first – the fact I was Tweeting to him a lot and a friend had to step in to re-assure him that I’m harmless. I can get a bit obsessed through Twitter with celebs and most are fine about it which means a lot to me.
In December 2015 my dream to meet him was completed as I went to see him in panto in Bradford (yes my wonderful parents got me tickets for birthday/Christmas) – I was absolutely made up when I finally met him!

I still haven’t quite got over the fact I have met Jake Canuso but I seem to have crushes on men over 40. So my final mention is of an English ex pro footballer turned manager who used to play for Portsmouth in the 90’s and early 00’s… His name is Lee Bradbury (we call him Bradders!), and I think he is gorgeous!
My enjoyment of footy has been since the late 90’s and I earwigged conversations the boys were having when I was in Year 4 – so that’s how I got to know the names of the Pompey legends (never thought I’d ever come face to face with my absolute favourite!!)
I first met Bradders in October 2015 at a charity game, and it was so amazing that I was star struck and I couldn’t talk because I didn’t know what to say to my absolute number one in football. I now meet him most of the year as I follow ‘The Hawks’ (Havant And Waterlooville FC) – he is manager there.
I have met Lee’s family and they’re fully aware that I adore him and they are understanding. Lee is very patient with me, and I do like a quick hug each time I see him which makes me very happy.
Lee is the reason I now play football in a disability group, so it makes a lot of sense to follow his career and get to know him as a person. Playing footy keeps me fit and gets me out meeting other football fans.

So you see that I’ve had a small range of people that I’ve been quite ‘into’ and most are alright that I support them. I just do it in a more keen way than other people might.
Some of the other people in between that I’ve had ‘a thing’ for are: Beverley Knight (singer – met her in 2009 at her concert for my 21st), Adam Woodyatt (Eastenders ‘Ian Beale’ – mostly cos he’s the longest serving cast member and he’s had funny storylines over the years too!)

Where I have these crushes or such, shows that I’m human at the end of the day… we all have someone we like, and as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone then it’s ok. I feel that my support for these guys is good and I like that I can be my own person around them – I will never be able to change who I am so they may as well get to enjoy the support because I’ll always be there if they need it!

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Food and Autism

I think this is one of my favourite subjects because – I love my food!

Being on the Autism Spectrum, you would think I would have problems with foods and how it is on my plate – that’s the stereotype most are familliar with. The science of Autism and how they feel about food is that many will struggle from a very early age. My mum made sure that I ate as much variety as she could find for me to try. That’s why I was eating fillet steak and scallope at 17 months old!

The problems that have been known surrounding food is that:

1) Autistic people will not eat food that has touched another piece of food.
This is the main issue as the information that the person gets when eating food and textures would be mixed up and that they would panic. One of my favourite things to eat is a pasta salad, and as the name suggests (salad) – the food is all mixed together. Many with more severe Autism may not cope at all with that for lunch as they prefer it all seperate so they can manage the tastes at their own pace.

2) The amount of food on their plate may feel like a mountain.
Avoiding giving them a massive roast will not expand their pallate – yes… give them a roast, but have a small amount of everything to try. Even if they spit out a food or they pull a funny face (camera at the ready for silly faces!), tell them that it is ok not to like a food and maybe try the food again the next week or even next day if you wish. Don’t expect them to finish the whole plate of food, but if they do then celebrate that they have done well. Trying new food is essential to diet, so the more they try a range of food, the better. Always encourage eating – When out in a restaurant, ask for a little plate so that you can put a bit of your food on for them to try.

3) ‘My son/daughter will only eat the same thing each dinner time!’
Ok, firstly can that food be prepared in different ways (an egg can be cooked in many different ways – scrambled, hard boiled, fried etc).
Don’t let your child control you. Make mealtimes fun for them by letting them see food being made. Younger aged kids and toddlers may like to first feel food with hands and they may put it in their mouth themselves. Certainly DO NOT stop them from trying new foods and do not make up their minds for them as to what they can and can’t eat. As I said above in the point before, encourage them to try more.

Many parents make the mistake ‘I don’t like (this food) so I’m not giving it to my child!’ That in itself is the wrong way to go about food.

Some foods that I currently don’t like are:
Celery, Radish, Olives, Watercress, (heavy) Vinegar and Pepper seasoning
But who knows, one day my tastebuds may change to like them.

Autistic people aren’t the most inquisitive about things but if you help them from early age then you’ll give them a bright future – you may even have a little chef on your hands one day! Nothing is impossible!

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Hall of Fame Dinner at Pompey

I had been looking forward to this night for what seemed ages but it was only a month ago I got a ticket to see some ex Pompey players get inducted in to the Hall Of Fame 7/4/17 !

I got taken to the event by my dad and when I got in there it was fairly busy already. I found where we were going to be sitting and I said hello before waiting to meet the inductees. We had Alan Knight on our table for dinner and I made sure he was sat next to me by waiting till there was only two spaces left!

First I met Vince Hilaire, who I couldn’t believe how short he was in real life. He was really nice to meet, he made me feel welcomed since he is friends with me on Facebook. I got myself a pic with him and we had a little chat. I will be seeing him on 17/4/17 too when Pompey legends play against Glasgow Rangers again!

Next I got a bit of a ‘wow’ moment as I got introduced to Alan Biley (mullet famous!) and he was super nice too – never thought I’d meet him ever. That was the shock meet of the whole evening. Alan is already in the HoF since 2011 but I was so amazed to meet him as he is very well known about with Pompey fans. Proper legend he is. Biley liked that I play football as a striker – we kinda instantly clicked when we met.

Paul Merson was meant to be at the evening but he ended up not making it. He was due to be inducted in to HoF too.

I also had a chance to catch up with Ray Crawford who I had met back in September last year. This time I got his autograph and had a great time chatting.

It was all very surreal and I thank Sam for getting me my ticket. People that didn’t go certainly missed a fab evening. The food was delicious and I think the pudding was the best as it was chocolate!

Me with Alan Biley

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Sport Inclusion For The Disabled

I think that exercise is important – probably more important for the disabled community because they need to keep their joints healthy, and moving is good for you. I have had years when I’ve done none at all since my compulsory education finished, and I started getting fat. Physical Education was probably my least favourite subject at school as I was always the last dressed in the changing room, which made me feel worse!

Since school PE ended, I’ve tried Zumba, Swimming, Fencing, Indoor Climbing and even joined in with a multi sports club for disabled people. None of those I’ve stuck at very long because of them being costly, on the wrong day or venue or such – I did my Grade 1 Fencing at college which I am very proud of as I always wanted to have a go (my mentality of trying things is due to my mum pushing me to try them, as I know that Autistic people can be scared to try new or frightening things).

Last summer I found a ladies football group (Mumball) and that was for a Monday night – A friend of mine said that I should go and try playing football, since I have been watching the Portsmouth FC Legends play charity games. My reply was that I thought I’d not be fit enough as I don’t run very fast. As people know, my hero in football is Lee Bradbury ex Pompey striker so I was more inspired because of him. So I joined. I was approximately there for around 6 or 7 months (with a few weeks out for holiday) but I thoroughly enjoyed it and it definitely started me getting fitter and I kept off the 1stone of weight I had lost last year. There were a few reasons I finished: 1) Limited parking at venue, so 2) Parents taking me and they feel the cold etc, and 3) Not many people at some of the Mumball evenings so I was knackered after! Finally 4) We hadn’t entered in competitions or anything – All them things made me decide that I should find a new group where I can show my level and ability whilst still running around.

So I found out about a Social Inclusion Group where I could play football and have just as much fun as I did at Mumball. This group is called Victory Hants and it is aimed at disabled people over 16 (both male and female) that want to meet people and play sport whilst it helps to rehabilitate them from issues that have been or are an issue in their lives. At the time of writing, I have been there a month now and I have scored goals in 3 of the 4 weeks I have attended! Soon we will be having our first summer 2017 tournament and I am so excited!

Victory Hants is so important to disabled people because it gives them a purpose and a meaning in life. They can meet new people (which can be scary for the very first time) but soon they get on with everyone because they realise that they are virtually in the same state as them (a disability shouldn’t change who is friends with who and why). This group is also important to the disabled service users because it gives them the exercise they need to stay feeling good in themselves and getting fit so they don’t end up back at square one. We are very lucky to have a group of leaders/coaches that will give up their time to stand in the cold and train us to become better people and more fitter sportsmen (and women!) – Just as long as we don’t injure ourselves!

I love to play football and it’s something that now I am doing, I cannot ever give up!!
Sport is a life line for anyone that wants to feel wanted and included in their life – Nobody should ever be left out because we all have hidden talents that we are just waiting to show to the world!

Why don’t you have a look in your area to see what sport is on offer? You never know, you could end up playing for England at the Special Olympics or a regional tournament at some point.

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