I am SO proud !! My son,Ollie, who happens to have autism amongst his many other gifts, abilities and characteristics, the boy who was literally written off by his mainstream school when he was just 13 years old, has just completed his second year at his first choice university with a resounding FIRST for much of his creative writing and publishing degree. He has also finished his first anthology of poems, aptly named “Lungs”. The front cover has been designed by his older brother,James.
I never stopped believing in my boy’s voice and his gifts and now he is truly singing his song. All those authors to whom I sent Ollie’s work in desperation when he was so broken at 13 were right : that Ollie was indeed already a writer and to never let others define him.
Here is a poem Ollie wrote at 13, the year he was removed with no warning from top set English and told he would never be allowed to sit the higher paper . It was set as a Valentine’s Day challenge to write a love poem to a fly. It was also the year I was told that Ollie would ” never achieve “, whatever funding I managed to fight for.
I am the fume that lives in your clothes
I am an irritation of love beneath your skin
I come in swarms like a flock of birds
A mist to your eyes you see a plague of love in me
I am a grain of the dark skies scattered on the stars
Within you is the fly.
Now that very boy is a young man living his dream and touching a very real future where he can sing his song and touch the world, contribute to that world and achieve his full potential. He once thought his future had been removed when his dreams of reading English at university were removed when he was not allowed access to the higher English GCSE paper . Now that future is blooming and his chosen degree is more perfect than we could have ever guessed during those dark years of complete heartbreak.
Ollie has made lifelong friends at university during the past two years and plans to do a Masters once he has completed his degree after the third year !
He has learned how to live independently, in a shared flat in the city, manage his own bills and bank account, cook and do all his own shopping . He catches trains and public transport , can plan journeys and cope with changes of station if necessary. It has been a challenging year in some respects and a huge learning curve …. but also a MASSIVE triumph !!! Ollie has thrived to such a degree that he has put forward his name again to be a ” peer mentor ” to help new first year students with different abilities to find their feet and have someone to turn to . He said he knows how the new students will be feeling and would love to help . ( and yet people with autism aren’t meant to have empathy ! )
NEVER STOP BELIEVING !! My ribcage actually hurts with the volume of pride I feel !
I am absolutely full of joy and energy and feel so immensely privileged to have been invited to run a training day for Special Yoga Limited, a truly wonderful and inspirational organisation who take their work with special children worldwide.
Jyoti Jo Manuel, the founder, trained with me earlier this year and I shall be training under her to further my own work with special children in October by her kind invitation. Our approach and support of these incredibly special children is so similar and so complimentary.
I shall be running the training day from the Heart Centre in Bournemouth, Dorset on Friday 31st August 2018 – with a later day in the planning stages for London due to high demand! For more information or to book your ticket, please visit the Special Yoga website.
I shall also be taking part on February 10th 2019 in a training and talk in Wiltshire as part of a four consecutive weekend retreat programme organised by Special Yoga – more details to follow.
Do check out the valuable and incredible work they do at SpecialYoga.org.uk.
“I love Giuliana and her amazing work. So happy to have her beautiful teachings and presence again. For yoga therapists, teachers and alternative therapists working with autistic kids, this day will give you some really useful tools and info.” – Jo Manuel, Founder.
*Update: An inspiring, valuable and tremendous day of teaching, learning and sharing was had by all! For more information about the day, please visit the Indian Head Massage Community’s website.
I was so thrilled, proud and truly honoured to be asked again by Mary Atkinson and Amy Taylor of the prestigious Indian Head Massage Community UK to give a presentation and workshop on 30th June 2018 at their conference and CPD event.
The day was to “welcome top guest speakers from the industry to offer insights, inspiration and information to promote the best practice for Indian Head Massage therapists. The idea was to share knowledge of taking nurturing massage to areas previously not considered; to think outside the box and to learn and grow alongside each other, sharing knowledge, proven experience and ideas.”
I was just so gorgeously delighted to be a part of something so special and planned a heartfelt, passionate, moving talk that will get people thinking (I hope!), followed by a very interactive, exciting workshop. It was such a privilege to be included. Thank you Mary and all the team!
I was delighted to have an article about my professional work and personal journey with autism featured in the December 2017 issue of the Complementary Medical Association magazine. Please click here to read more.
On 15th – 17th September 2017 I was invited by Dr Martin Williams ( such a massive honour ! ) to Fife in Scotland where I gave a talk and ran a workshop as part of the launch of an Emotionally Intelligent schools leadership programme . Dr Williams spoke so engagingly about the huge importance, impact and value of emotional intelligence and how “EQ” is as important, if not more so , than IQ : something that has also been so close to my own heart and experience and something I’ve long wished to see within schools and the workplace.
The head teacher of Lochgelly School, Carolann Penrose, had worked closely with Dr Williams for the outcomes aimed at for the weekend and I was just so thrilled to be part of it. It just lights me up to meet doctors, teachers and other professionals who all deeply care for the child, the ” wet cement ” that we are all shaping and to know that there are really forward thinking schools out there who understand that an emotionally intelligent school will be a more productive and inclusive school – which will ultimately produce better results . This message then filters into the workplace where employers now are increasingly looking for EQ as well as IQ….
By also encouraging self care and self nurture, we all do a far better job of providing the very best , professional, quality care for the children and young adults we are growing. With all the pressures teachers are now under, this couldn’t be more important because if teachers are able to nurture themselves, they’re then able to nurture those in their care. When we are aware of and growing our own EQ, we can then help the children grow their’s .
This launch weekend was just totally inspiring and motivational. It was so gorgeous to feel myself growing even more on a personal and professional level as I listened to Dr Williams’ extensive knowledge and experience – and also the heads,deputies, teachers and other staff who were all so passionate about what they do. I was so moved to be able to share this special time and to bring my own work to the table too, that I did actually cry when I left Edinburgh airport …! I felt part of something so valuable, important and trail blazing. I’m confident that this is just the beginning……
Out of all the ( many ! ) photographs I took throughout my trip, my very favourite is the one of the knitted bicycle cover because to me it summed up the weekend …. all of our colours, all of our gifts, all of our abilities – however different or special , all of our voices are so important for transporting us into a rich, full, inclusive and emotionally intelligent future .
I’m very happy indeed to have my work featured in a full page article in Closer magazine for the 9-15th September 2017 issue !!
I have been really honoured to have written for – and been interviewed for – some truly prestigious specialist publications and now my message and work for these amazing children and young adults is hitting the mainstream press too . To think that my work could help and touch so many in this way, to help and alleviate /ease issues and challenges and to help a child bloom as they should , just makes me realise why I work all the hours I do and why these wonderful young people – these seeds of our future – will always be worth it .
The article says I am a mum of one rather than four but it is a really lovely article . Actually I often feel I am like a mum to hundreds and I hope as my work spreads that those numbers will touch the thousands ! A lovely feeling !!
I’m hoping to have the link sent to me in due course but for now I am just so excited I hope these photos will do … I will ask my delicious ( and very patient ) website guru Chris to help me upload this as soon as I have it !
My incredible and inspirational son, Ollie, the boy who I was told ” would never achieve ” due to his autism , has just completed the first year of his creative writing and publishing degree at his first choice university. He achieved a First , the very top grade, for this first year of assignments.
Yet Ollie had his writing, his gift, removed from him at the age of 13 when teachers refused to allow him to sit the higher English GCSE paper in spite of me securing funding and regardless of the fact that Ollie had been in gifted and talented sets for English throughout middle school.
That decision nearly broke him and led to all sorts of terrifying mental health issues including suicidal thoughts and at least two attempts. We persevered and I sent his work off every author I could find asking for their help. I have two huge box files of personal replies all telling my son he was a writer already and to never let school or others define him.
He proved everyone wrong ( gaining 11 A to C GCSE’s and 3 A* -C A levels ) and is blooming . He has learned not only to grow his tremendous gifts but to use those gifts to help others, raising money for charity by reading his poetry at gigs, bravely accompanying me on some public speaking events where I raise awareness about just how amazing and ABLE these kids with different or special abilities are , he has spoken to national newspapers with me and even read his poetry out and been interviewed for BBC radio. Alongside all this , he has learned to organise himself, cope with the unexpected, learn to be flexible , live totally independently for the very first time, learn from his mistakes and pick himself up again, deal with homesickness , go shopping, wash, iron, budget, cook, travel, negotiate timetables and public transport and make new friends …. all steps to becoming the most inspirational and capable young man . He has already had several job offers for internships in publishing houses as well as writing for organisations worldwide. Just one year ago he had never even had a sleepover anywhere !I could actually burst into a billion pieces from sheer pride and I hope that ollie’s bravery, tenacity, strength and determination help touch so many for a long time to come.
I will never stop believing , not just in my own son, but in all those with different abilities out there. They need to be included in education , the workplace and society. We all have something to give. We all deserve a voice. We all deserve to grow and achieve our dreams and all their potential.
I always see it as a huge honour when I am approached by schools to offer work experience placements . This was a particularly special young lady sent to me by Bridgwater College , a school where have already trained staff members in my massage techniques for children on the SEN register or having a very difficult time. I used to massage this young lady some years ago for little while when she was at her old school and this has brought her a tremendous empathy and sensitivity along with her natural gifts and talents for this sort of work. It always brings me such immense joy to help people find their voices and to then see them grow and blossom to help others. I really do have the best job !!
This is so special !
As you know I train teachers and other professionals all over the UK , as well as further afield , in my massage techniques for children and young people with special or different abilities as well as for those kids just having a really tough time .
Well during the Spring 2017 term I trained a really dedicated staff member from one of my local schools which is part of a six school academy within the Exmoor Coast Federation . Mrs Kerry Brooks of St Peter’s First School in Williton, Somerset took the massage into her group of special children called the ” Happy Stars “and the children began feeling the benefits straight away, all of which are being carefully monitored by the school. The therapy is having such positive effects that advanced training is already being undertaken with further courses and Mrs Brooks also helps me with my Rainbow Kids Club in her own time , taking the story massage techniques and meditations back to her Happy Stars. It is just beautiful to watch those children – and Mrs Brooks ! – bloom !
It has been such a success that just before half term I was invited by Mr Nigel Johnson, the headmaster, Kerry Brooks and the Happy Stars for breakfast one morning ! They made me toast and croissants which was bliss because I always skip breakfast ! A happy and delicious time was had by all and it was so magical to actually meet the children who are benefitting so greatly from the therapy. Usually I train parents, carers and professionals but seldom get to meet all the children so this occasion brought me a deep and long lasting joy. I will treasure that morning for a long time .
The Happy Stars always wear their slippers by the way , so I felt it was only polite to bring my own. I’m not quite sure what the local press made of that but we had a ball and it was absolutely lovely to sit in the middle of all those wonderful children and listen to their voices and their stories. It was so good to meet everyone and I’ve been invited back for a story massage morning or afternoon very soon where I can share even more with this very special bunch …. I even received a certificate in the post informing me that I have been adopted as their fairy godmother ! A beautiful and special time I shall treasure .
On Tuesday 23 May 2017 my son Ollie and I had our first joint interview broadcast on the breakfast show at BBC Somerset Radio 95.5 FM with Claire Carter. Ollie bravely spoke about his experiences going through mainstream school with ASD, how I sent his work off to authors when he felt at his most broken and how he has gone on to realise his dreams. We spoke of our journey together and used this opportunity and our experience to help others and to bring hope – to raise awareness for children and young people with autism and other different / special abilities within mainstream schools. No child should ever be confined by a label. All abilities, however different, should be celebrated and grown.
Life feels amazing !! I am so proud of my Ollie and his huge courage . He even got to read out some of his poetry on air. Not bad for the boy who I was told would ” never achieve”. At 19 years old he has had his first interview – and with the BBC ! He is finding his voice every day : I could burst with joy and pride !