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Giuliana also writes blogs for I Care 4 Autism and Different Brains on a regular basis.

STORY MASSAGE BEST PRACTICE AWARD

In November 2020 I was overjoyed to receive a Story Massage Best Practice Award. I’ve worked so hard and adapted it into so many different needs and ways . It has been a beautiful,valuable, impactful and gently powerful therapy to grow in and it has been so delicious to blended it with my other therapies to give bespoke treatments to every individual whom I am so privileged to work with.

Touch crosses all boundaries and languages with huge benefits.

Story massage has undoubtedly enabled me to meet every child where THEY are and not where I want them to be . We have worked through enormous issues, explored emotions, eased and even erased phobias and I recently had a nine year old non verbal girl go on to write a story massage which her mother asked me to read out anonymously to a group session. As if that wasn’t amazing enough, when the little girl in question saw the wonderful reaction to her story massage, she motioned for me to go close and WHISPERED in my ear ” You can tell them it was me ” !!!!!

My eyes are just swimming writing this….

 

The eleven other winners of this award each do incredible work and it is well worth reading the blog which Mary Atkinson and Sandra Hooper, the co-founders wrote about the Best Practice Award Winners for 202.0he stories are inspirational and motivational all at once.

 

What made me extra happy was that two of the winners, Kerry Brooks and Louise Rutt, have also trained extensively with me . It just makes me fill with warmth when we all work together for the best reason in the world ; our children and our future. Thank you Mary and Sandra for sharing your wonderful work !

YOUTUBE CHANNEL !!!!

Something I resisted for so long ….. but following the unexpectedly enormous reaction to videos I made during Lockdown which I shared all over my social media, Anna Kennedy’s AKO Expo page, my Online Rainbow Therapies for Kids and Families Public FB Group as well as Linkedin (where several of them trended just one after another within the first week , to my complete amazement) I have now set up a Youtube channel. Its called Rainbow kids Touch Therapy but is inclusive of EVERYONE … all ages, abilities, different abilities and situations.

 

What turned out to be a simple joy of sharing and wanting to reach out to families during Covid -19, has had the most incredible, surprising and joyful outcome. Never did I think as the world closed down, that my deep fear would turn to such unbridled joy and that globally I would end up reaching so many more people !!! Isn’t life extraordinary and often very beautiful !!

 

*Go to the YouTube widget on the homepage where a link will take you to my channel. It would be utterly GORGEOUS if you could watch, enjoy, subscribe and share ! Thank you to all of you who have been part of this journey.

Mental Health at Global Crisis Levels – Time to Reach Out.

My work over the years has increasingly involved working with mental health challenges and issues. Right now in the UK  as you are reading this, there are 10,000 children under 10 with diagnosed severe depression. Self harm has gone up by 68% in the last 10 years. (Child andAdolescent Mental Health Survey )  Half of all mental health illnesses are laid down before the age of 14, and waiting lists for CAMHS are a year to 18 months at least. PRU units are full . 60% of looked after children ( children in care ) have some form of emotional anxiety or mental health illness.

Children and young people with an existing condition or different ability such as autism or ADHD are 2-6x more likely to develop a mental health illness or issue, as I know only too well from the journey with my own son … terrifying and heartbreaking times I would not wish on anybody. Young people with PMLD are 50% more at risk of developing an additional mental health issue.

 

In all of this, boys are proven to suffer twice as much as girls and yet they are often too embarrassed to discuss it, let alone approach anyone for help…

So I am absolutely honoured to be approached by a very honest,courageous and wonderful man named Colin Sortwell who with the support of his incredible wife and son following a breakdown, set up a blog/website about his experiences  called www.monkeyonmyback.org.uk so that he could help and inspire others. I am extremely proud to share this on my website and hope that it will help so many …..

Here is what Colin has to say :

“Hello,my name is Colin,Im a 50 something man who has at times suffered with my mental health. It seems so easy to say it now but you wouldn’t believe how long it took me to admit I had a problem and to seek help. Like a typical teenager & then man I bottled things up for years and years,always managing to get by until things got so bad that my depression and anxiety left me hospitalised for a short while. Moving forward a few years I had another bad patch that involved my career and left me with horrendous anxiety. I ended up having to resign from my position as that was clearly making me very ill indeed.

 

At this time I was seeing both my GP and an awesome counsellor who helped me to talk through my problems., and slowly but surely I began to make sense of it all. My counsellor and my amazing wife encouraged me to write all my issues down as a way of offloading them, and sort of draw a line under them if you will. So I decided to create a website that not only would help me offload but hopefully would help anyone else that might be feeling the same way, and that is how www.monkeyonmyback.org.uk was born. I’ve always called that voice inside my head that tells me I’m not good enough,or can’t do things, the Monkey.

 

Once I had started writing, it was like the floodgates had opened , so much stuff came out of me that I couldn’t believe where it had all come from.  But, and here’s the important bit, the feeling of relief that I felt was absolutely overwhelming. The point I’m trying to make is that it doesn’t matter whether you talk to someone about your issues or if you write them down on paper, create a blog ,write a song etc. There is ALWAYS someone who will listen without judging you and will allow you to get rid of those unwanted,negative thoughts that are causing you problems.

 

Please don’t suffer in silence!

C x ”

I am also thrilled to share that I have now trained Colin’s wife Sheila in Indian Head Massage for Special Needs and she has taken this therapy back to Northern Ireland. With the knowledge and techniques they now have between them, I am so happy that they will be able to touch so many lives and make a difference. Which is ultimately what we are all here to do.

JUNIOR BEST PRACTICE AWARD FOR STORY MASSAGE !

In March 2020 I was absolutely blown away  and in a state of the most gorgeous disbelief when I was awarded a Junior Best Practice Award by the StoryMassage Founders Mary Atkinson and Sandra Hooper.

We agreed that the certificate should be made out to Giuliana’s Rainbow Kids because they have progressed so much within this therapy and we have used it to explore and express so emotions, events and issues so successfully.

With some children I have got to the bottom of challenges,problems or traumas where there wasn’t the power of speech,the level of understanding or the vocabulary to vocalise : the power of safe and nurturing touch in  a relaxed and fun environment really cannot be underestimated. I have had the most tremendous results working with children of all ages in this way. I am so thankful to have trained in such a valuable therapy.

We have all bloomed within it, me included, even down to developing and adding our own strokes ,naming them and using them in our own stories. We even made it onto the story massage website with our story massage about the Royal Wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan… a real moment of value, self esteem and pure magic for “my” children.

 

Mary  Atkinson visited my Rainbows and held a wonderful training course in Story Massage from my therapy/training chalet overlooking the sea in Summer 2019 which everyone absolutely loved  followed by a children’s workshop the next morning .The Rainbows were so excited to be meeting Mary for real after hearing all about her. .. the founder of story massage AND an author coming all the way to see them! It was a gorgeous weekend remembered fondly by everyone who shared it. As Mary later wrote, “I LOVED meeting your rainbow kids.”

 

This  Junior Best Practice Award is only the THIRD  time to date that it has been awarded …. out of 3000 Story Massage Instructors !!!!!! And my Rainbow Kids are the FIRST EVER to receive this award !!!! Can you feel the cartwheels I’m just bursting to unleash as I write this ?!!

We received a beautiful and specially designed certificate in the post which I will frame and put up in the therapy chalet once I have thrown a special awards ceremony ( with photos of course !!!)  I also had the loveliest email saying it was “so well deserved” and that they hoped that this incredible award made me happy. Well when I tell the children at our “awards ceremony ” I think ALL our yells of happiness will be heard !! I am SO happy there just aren’t enough words … even for me !

 

The certificate came with a treasured card which gave me such a lump of pride and emotion for all the children who pass through my hands …. it said ” Congratulations on winning this very special award. We know how much you love story massage and have been so impressed by your stories. Brilliant !”

 

I AM SO PROUD OF ALL MY RAINBOWS WHO HAVE HELPED MAKE THIS HAPPEN !!!!! WELL DONE MY DARLINGS !!

 

 

 

 

St Peter’s First School,Williton – School Visit to the Therapy Chalet !

A VERY SPECIAL visit was made on 10th March 2020 when I had the HUGEST joy in sharing an entire morning with the”Happy Stars” from St Peter’s First School in Williton. I have previously trained some of the staff here in Indian Head Massage for Special/Additional needs, Advanced Functional Massage and Rainbow Kids Instructor courses.

We all spent the most magical, valuable, expressive and deeply beneficial time exploring massage, story massage, kids’ and special yoga, sensory and immersive meditation, mindfulness, sound therapy, positive affirmation games and empowering activities. I loved every single absolutely delicious moment. Can’t wait for the next visit!

EXCITING INVITATION !

I am so SO happy to share with you all that Mary Atkinson and Amy Taylor have invited me to be part of the UK Indian Head Massage Community as a Specialist on the team!!!!

This is such rewarding and joyful news to have my passionate work of the past nine years valued by such respected leaders in the field. I look forward to embracing all the opportunities this will bring and to work hard as part of a very special community who help so many whilst learning and growing continually within that.

Autism’s Got Talent Ruislip,London 12th October 2019

Autism’s Got Talent, Ruislip  2019 …. a night I will never forget and will carry with me to my last breath.

Watching my son, who by this time next year will be more qualified than the head of English teacher and her team who categorically told me that Ollie “would never achieve more than two GCSE’s “due to his autism (and who removed English literature from him as well as the higher GCSE paper in English) , reading out his poetry to an audience of hundreds where you could have literally heard a pin drop, really brought home our journey.

Each of the three poems Ollie read were met with thunderous applause that felt like it would lift off the very roof. I couldn’t believe my eyes or ears. As I peeked out through the wings on stage I could see people wiping their tears. People back stage were crying and I was crying too because I cannot believe all my son has achieved through so much, both at home and school, to become the gentle, kind, incredibly talented , giant of a man he is today.

I don’t think my heart will ever return to its normal size after this.

 

Ollie read some poetry from his first anthology “Lungs” about some of the horrific domestic abuse he both saw and then later experienced directly, prompting our departure from such a toxic atmosphere. He also read a poem from his second anthology “Wings” which is “a collection where Ollie reflects on the domestic abuse of his mother and the family , becoming a space where vulnerabilities and hope are explored in the butterfly transformations of his mother. ” The anthology is dedicated to me and simply says “For my Mum,who always taught me to find my song”.

Anna Kennedy OBE kindly invited Ollie to sell his books on the evening. It all felt so surreal seeing my son who I have advocated for all his life, now advocating for others by taking part in such a impactful event.

 

Each act, each unique , strong, beautiful human being ,was so powerful and gifted that Ollie said to me during rehearsals that he didn’t feel adequate by comparison. My heart went out to him as this message is one he has had for so long from so many. The chilling fact is that each of these kids’ stories could have been so entirely different if they hadn’t had someone believing in them. And half of them,including Ollie, almost ended up not being here at all after being driven to suicidal thoughts and attempts when their gifts went unheard along with their voices.

After the show Ollie pulled me to one side away from the crowds, and very quietly said “Mum, for the first time in my life I feel a tiny bit proud.”

Yes – I did cry again …buckets,! It had taken Ollie 22 years , a Degree and participating in Autism’s Got Talent to at last feel of worth.

 

I feel even more strongly than ever that Autism’s Got Talent should be on mainstream TV, played at school assemblies and absolutely incorporated into teacher training. If only they could be made aware of how when you tap into that special ability and find what I call their super power …. these kids FLY !  Thank you to Anna Kennedy OBE ,Phil Barnett, Steven Smith,Dawn Avery Lisa Robins and all of Anna’s hard working team and ambassadors for getting all our special children heard.

 

Following the inundation of emails and messages I received after the show, here are copies of the three poems which Ollie read out. The actual footage of him reading them out at the show can be found on my Therapies For Special Needs FB business page, YouTube and Anna Kennedy Online.

 

Straight Jacket Of Flies


You feel them tug free sometimes: horseflies,

botflies,craneflies,fruit flies,picture-winged flies –

the ensemble is fear.It must feel horrible,

knowing that wherever you go,they will

surely follow.This is how we felt father

when you bugged us, to the point where my chest

would tighten if the phone rang – you’d

be in the background listening to every word.

You set up this landscape of fear for me:

now you’re living it.Every waking moment you tremor

at the nail varnish colours of their thoraxes.

Their stirring reminds you too much of the new baby you left

that night to take a flight to Indonesia.

It’s crying out for a father went unheard,

Mother slept with it that night ,crying over it’s head.

The flies keep you busy, falsifying albums

of our so-called ‘privileged life’ as evidence

for Crown Court.The botflies remember;

looping their milky eggs in your scalp.Mother had

a flower pot business and taught French as a private tutor

to keep her family from going homeless.

Now, horseflies crowd in around your eyes,

turning the eye sockets inside-out.You had money

that you spent at hotels with mystery women

you were having affairs with.

You have nothing now.

The flies know.

 

Under The Wheels


The night you left The White Horse pub

with father,he pushed you through

the car door. Heft up inches

from the asphalt and the road

darting away like a massive

tarmac arrow.You were flightless

as you scooped your knees

and laddered your tights on the road.

He dangles you by a string of air.

He says, “You’re having an affair with John”. The recoiling ferns and gridded

oaks’ boughs at at he wayside put

their ears to your complaints; ‘Let me go,

let me go’. Then a tough wind blew

up a sail of your dress and you could

feel the cold in your bones.

You tried to kiss the unbearable gravel

like it was holy soil. Father rose over you

with gritted teeth ,roaring at you,

ravined V-lines veins set the tension

in his forehead as he bent

his face to yours. You will never

forget that night or that look

in his eyes.

 

The Joker 


My father stepped on my back so hard,why so hard?

A loveless chain of thorns he strung on each of our necks.

The false purples cancelling out the crimean flush in our chests,

like the love that was traded in, for the malice he wreaked.

 

Its vine decaying the good ores of virtue I have in my flesh vessel

that vessel

Your vessel no more.

 

“Dad,why are you waiting on the stairs at night?

What is that black box you clutch to your chest

like an unseasoned Pandora’s box? Small,

ticking silently in its mechanical heart.

A past fever pumped in my veins like a concealed guilt.

 

I knew, you knew, of the lies you’d built inside.

The treacherous glee you hide but show in your cold blue eyes.

A hoar frost dissolving on the tongue of an adder

tasted with self-glorifying ill-will.

When a boy of 17 tells his father to stop lying,

his father’s eyes crinkle as small as sunflower seeds,

as though he’d got a sour taste of lie in his mouth.

 

He told me these words, opening his jack-knife smile,

“I could never lie to you, I wouldn’t hurt you like that ” he’d say anxiously.

Never is a hyperbolic word.

NEVER.

NE-VER.

Never.

 

 

I let out an inward gasp; the sound a balloon makes

when popped by a needle.

Or the balloon that my border terrier burst through

to bite with salivating maul the soft skin of my shoulder.

 

No,no,no, this object: spike, steak, spear

has pricked me in solitude ,when I should be

waiting in the corridors of my house,

listening for pretend coughing, the kitchen tap running,

the slow breathing on the walls, is this all inside my head ?

 

You tell me if you are talking to someone behind a closed door

and someone is listening outside :

does something feel funny about the air ?

how it lies thick, pregnant and obscure in your oesophagus.

 

My father will talk of how he met (trapped) my mother;

red peacock butterflies in a jam jar,

leaving her in the enclosure of cling film and glass.

In these transparencies of space

the butterfly could only glimpse the wasting powders on her wings.

A lidded sky,housetop,every morning and night is shut,

the edges of a face looms in the sky,

says come out, spread your wings.

Is it the Joker or the moon, that this seems to sing ?


 

 

 

 

Autism’s Got Talent St Ives June 2019

A night I will never forget.

Inspirational suddenly feels like such an overused word.

I’ve never got through so many tissues in one night .

Ever.

What moved me so much was the overriding common theme that each of the incredibly talented performers had been written written off by doctors , teachers and other professionals from as early as two years old.

Just like my own son.

 

How different their stories would all be now had it not been for someone believing in them and fighting so hard for them to become all they can possibly be.

The strength and determination against all the odds by the children themselves is a journey I deeply recognise and I was blown away by each and every one of them. For the first time in my own life I felt I belonged too as I listened to the stories of other parents and their own children. It felt like a family; an extraordinary feeling I have never had anywhere else. It was extremely powerful to feel all our voices together and to feel the energy behind each performance. It was very emotional.

Meeting Anna Kennedy OBE, someone I have longed to talk with for so long, really feeling her sincerity,motivation, drive and passion was also something I recognised and it was humbling and uplifting all at once.

The whole experience confirmed to me why we do all the crazy hours we do for these kids who deserve to grow, to thrive and to be included in our society.

Alfie’s Blog

From the mouths of babes…here is what little Alfie has to say. This was sent to me recently and I have asked Alfie to send me blogs whenever he wants to as a form of a diary, a way to have a voice and to educate others.

So …. Introducing Alfie …

 

“Autism is hard to live with but it also makes me really happy because it makes me more driven to do things like my art and comedy although it can make me distracted at times ,some people at school don’t understand and make fun of me for it. That is hard to deal with. It can make me really anxious and upset when my brain can’t process things that worry me. It helps me to focus on things that interest me to the point of becoming an obsession. I get nervous about new situations because I don’t know what to expect,e.g will it be noisy,crowded,will I be pushed or touched or if someone has spray-on deodorant and sprays mean I won’t be able to breathe. Will people look at me strangely and will I understand their faces ? Will they like me ?”

 

My diagnoses: ASD,anxiety/phobia,sensory processing issues, learning difficulties, vocal ticks, fine and gross motor skills problems ,dyslexia, joint hyper mobility,coeliac disease.

 

Alfie is in mainstream school and the continual fight to be heard and valued in the correct way are never ending.This impacts Alfie dreadfully as well as the whole family . He has periods where he has had to be home schooled when the bullying or lack of academic support has become too overwhelming. However he continues to have his voice through his gifts of art and comedy which help to get him through., just as words,writing and books became my own son’s world.

I wish blogs like this could be given as a mandatory part of teacher training.

 

INSPIRATION and JOY !!

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 !