How to connect with depressed friends

Thanks to Steevie for the link to this TED talk from comedian and stroyteller Bill Bernat, who shares a really sensitive, yet humorous approach to talking to people living with depression.


Come and speak to us

new little jack

ALS manager Chris has sent this very sad story concerning the experiences of a child diagnosed with dyslexia some years ago.

“I am now 47. I was diagnosed with dyslexia at the age of six. My mother was an ex headmistress so she knew the ropes. For me the problem was not so much the teachers who did not believe in dyslexia because I could cheerfully write them off as unconvertible. My problem was the ones who thought they knew what my problem was and how to fix it. It is bad enough to have to fit into the round holes of formal education and exam assessment etc as a dyslexic but when the people who are meant to help you also make you jump through hoops at the same time it can really pile on the pressure.

I was saved by a tragedy. I had managed to scrape some passes at “A” level the second time round and had barely got though the first year of Polytechnic when a student in a neighboring university very publicly committed suicide leaving a note saying that it was the stress of being dyslexic that had pushed them over the edge. This got the polytechnic to pay attention to dyslexia and allowed me to work with the polytechnic counselling service to start a peer support group for students with specific learning difficulties. This allowed us to ask for what we thought would be helpful. We didn’t always get what we needed by any means, but it was very much a step in the right direction.”

We would like to think that this was all ‘back in the day’ and reflect on how times have changed. However, the main message is that there is no need to suffer in silence – all types of advice, guidance and support are available in the ALS unit.

Fantastic new site


Thanks to ALS manager, Chris, for alerting us to this new careers website for students with learning differences and disabilities. This is really positive news.

Please recommend it to all your students.

I just wished to inform you about the exciting launch of our new website: and to ask for your assistance in marketing it to those who may find it useful.

This new website provides students with a disability or long-term health condition with all the information they need as they apply for graduate jobs and prepare to go through the recruitment process. The site affords information which is specifically relevant to them such as disclosing a disability, requesting adjustments, requiring support, gaps in the CV, lack of work experience, etc. Currently there is no other website offering all of this information. also provides information about employers. In addition to marketing their opportunities, employers can also include specific information about disability and the support they offer which their own company website may not allow.

I would appreciate your help in marketing this website to your students in what ever you can. Going forward we will be producing printed materials that we will forward to you. There will also be a formal launch of the site in September to coincide with the key graduate recruitment season. At this point we will be looking to do further marketing and also gain press coverage to increase awareness of the site amongst both employers and end users.

The site has been made possible thanks to our 3 key partners: Barclays, EDF Energy and Ernst and Young.

To find out more about the site and the information included, visit

Equal opportunities


Thanks to TJ and Angela Sims for forwarding this advert for a job as a student support facilitator. As Angela notes, perhaps times are beginning to change at last.

Over 500,000 people in the UK have autism. Together with their families, they make up over two million people whose lives are touched by autism every single day. At The National Autistic Society, our vision is a world where all people living with autism get to lead the life they choose.

About the job
Salary: £10.24 per hour
Hours: no fixed hours
Location: North of England – various
Closing date: 28 June 2013
Interview date: w/c 15 July 2013
Job reference: LAN011

We are currently recruiting for Student Support Facilitators, based at various higher education settings across the North of England, including Bolton, Lancaster, Manchester and Bradford. You will be providing support to students on the autism spectrum and will need to have had experience of a higher education setting and be confident, motivated and resourceful, with excellent organisation and communication skills.

How to apply
To apply for this job, please download and complete the job application form below. When completing the supporting statement, please refer to the job description and person specification and highlight any information that shows why you are suitable for the role. Send your completed application by email to, stating the job reference in the subject line, or post to
FAO: HR, The National Autistic Society, Lancashire Adult & Community Services, Margaret House, Queen Street, Great Harwood, Lancs BB6 7QP

Please make sure to tell us which job you are applying for, including the job reference if provided. This will ensure that you are considered for the right position.

Applications for this job are sought from anyone who is suitably qualified and experienced for the role but particularly welcome from those with a diagnosis of autism or Asperger syndrome

The NAS is committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of all children and adults who use our services and as such expects all staff and volunteers to share this commitment.

We are an equal opportunities employer.

Jacob and Sarah


Jacob Bannerman is an ALS student who has recently submitted his dissertation on Adults with Developmental Coordination Disorder. Jacob is one of Sarah’s tutees and, as such, has been taken under the wing of other ALS staff since our much missed colleague sustained her recent injuries.

Normally, I would have posted Jacob’s comments in the ‘what our students say’ section of this blog. However, in this instance, on Sarah’s request, and with Jacob’s permission,I have chosen to reproduce the student’s acknowledgements in their entirety:

” The process of putting together this was long and arduous, with many ups and downs. Throughout the process there were some people that supported me when I was struggling and [who] deserve recognition.

First, I would like to thank my dissertation tutor who provided insight, support and a positive outlook to all issues. I would also like to thank Amanda Kirby whose research was the basis for this study and provided information on the area and permission to use her checklist.

My sister Jessica Bannerman for providing a sounding board and a listening post and was always helpful.

TJ Thomas and the Bournemouth Additional Learning Services, particularly Alison Green and Amanda Dayman for helping my search for participants and general support and advice.

Finally, I would like to dedicate this piece of work to my Independent Study Management tutor, Sarah Faulkner, without whom very little of this would have happened. Always positive and perceptive, she provided support and understanding over two years which have helped me and many others develop as people as well as students. Get Well Soon”.

Thank-you Jacob for taking the time to write this and allowing me to share it with the rest of the team.