A few days ago I wrote about how De Montfort University in Leicester had played their part in letting me down as a disabled (Autistic) adult. This post is going to be able a local Autism service called LEAT (Leicestershire Empowerment For Autism Today). I have decided to name these organisations because I am absolutely fed up of being made the ‘scapegoat’ for everything that happened over those 3 years. May I just add so that it is understandable to newer readers, that I was taught by teachers in primary school to write things if I couldn’t say them. And this behaviour stuck and basically this is what we’re talking about throughout.
I’m going to tell you exactly what the reality of being a client of their organisation. I can also track down others locally that can back me up if I need to do so in a legal witness capacity. Ex clients which would be prepared to confirm that what I have said about this company is the truth and therefore I won’t be liable because witness statements are evidence within legal disputes (if it comes to it). 3 years ago when everything first started, the support manager threatened legal action against me if I spoke out. This wasn’t done directly, but via a phone call to my next of kin (the support manager was trying to justify her actions against me by telling a family member a load of lies). I feel that after everything has happened and I’ve basically got the blame and seen as an awful person… the truth needs to be published now. I’m unable to stand people seeing me as the awful one because I was scapegoated and pushed into Autistic meltdowns throughout.
We (myself and support manager/social worker etc) had lots of meetings with DMU departments (mental health department, Faculty of Disability, NAS Outreach) and I even went to the counsellor just before they kicked me out. I was up front and honest that I had just lost my son to adoption, and I’m sorry, but when someone goes through that it takes them either a long time to settle or they’re never the same again. Regardless though, they will be emotionally fragile and require support. In those meetings my so called support backed the universities demands up, they never spoke up for me. The only time they ever did any information on my behalf was to give to the student union representative backing me throughout their disciplinary procedure because they knew that they had to provide ‘supportive documentation’. They basically ‘bowed down to the universities demands’ and barely spoke during the disciplinary meeting.
I kept telling everyone that my Autism side, mixed with my trauma wouldn’t make it possible not to go into ocd emailing mode to a tutor. I wasn’t listened to by anyone. I was just temporarily suspended and told to stop. That was never going to work. Anyway, as I warned them, I couldn’t stick to it and messaged the tutor because I missed them (I live alone, it’s easy to get lonely and miss others you like). I got informed that I was now permanently excluded because of that. I told my ‘support’ that I wanted to appeal (you only had a certain amount of days to do so). They turned around and told me that I had to go tell DMU that I didn’t want to appeal. And that was soul destroying for me because in my heart I truly wanted to go back to study Journalism (which I always wanted to do from an early age). I felt like I was lying to myself as I emailed back to tell them that I didn’t want to come back. That’s not what I truly wanted. But, I couldn’t appeal it because my ‘support’ refused to help me. And, I was far too timid and shy to go in there on my own with no representation.
That is when I ended up saying those things via email to the tutor because I literally felt let down by everyone. And, when the police got involved, my ‘support’ service was no where to be seen. I had absolutely no advocating explaining my Autism side. I had random ‘appropriate adults’ in the interview rooms who were complete strangers to me. I was reduced to tears during those police interviews on one occasion. I am literally afraid of my door buzzer due to feeling intimidated and being alone when the police visited me. The last time I was in a police cell due to this situation which has lasted 3 years, I had a meltdown and smashed my head on the wall because I couldn’t stand it in there. I now get panicky when I am in cold small dark spaces. The PTSD nightmares and everything take me back there too. I was under my support for most of the time that the situation was going on. They were NEVER there apart from at set hours which got less and less due to cuts.
When it came to the court appearances because of what I said in anger due to not being able to go back to the university. There was no mention that a restraining order would set me up to fail because it was totally inappropriate for my autism as when people with autism go into ‘autistic meltdowns’ no legal document will be helping their situation. There was absolutely no alternatives discussed via those in the courtroom. They were just doing a blanket situation type legal case thing without taking circumstances or disability into account. I was told to plead guilty, which I wish I’d never done now because all this would have come out in a trial. The legal aid system doesn’t represent clients properly. Our legal aid system is like the public defender system in the USA, Unless you’re a disadvantaged disabled person born into money then you don’t get justice or the right treatment.
As for the attitude of the support manager (who I cannot name for legal reasons, but if it wasn’t an legal restriction then I definitely would), she was awful. This isn’t just to the clients, it is also to the staff. The staff turn over is horrendous. I know of at least 2 that has taken their dismissals to employment tribunal (obviously I cannot say if they were successful or not). But, it wasn’t just how she treated the staff. She didn’t believe that the clients could do anything either. Her pretence of being supportive of our life aspirations and goals were convincing but very fake. She had children (well now adults) that have varying degrees of Autism (plus other family members). She had the attitude that a lot of parents of Autism children have, eg. when a person apologises for their autism and then repeats the same actions (due to reaching meltdown point etc), then the sorry or remorse is cancelled out because they’ve repeated the same action. I’m sorry to all Autism parents if they’re offended by this… but neurologically, some of those negative behaviours are NOT a choice and it has NOTHING to do with us being not remorseful or done on purpose. That needs to be said because if Autism parents don’t explain it right, then our futures are probably going to be more bleaker than they are now.
And, finally the future of the company is doubtful. The support manager is getting on in years and has health issues. They refuse to retire. In the long run they are just causing more complications because the health problems that they have will progress with age and they refuse to see that they can no longer effectively run a successful support service for vulnerable adults due to this fact. They are quite stubborn but I’m someone who will always point it out exactly as I see it. The only staff that seem to stay there consistently are those that are ‘yes men’. I even had one say to me that they were only agreeing with her ideas regardless what they were because they wanted to keep their job. There are two staff currently still doing that and that is the only way they’ve managed to keep their jobs. The support manager was a long term friend of her receptionist and she left very suddenly giving the reason that she was going to work for her husband. None of us believe that as it happened within a few days and way too quickly to be those circumstances.
I just want the truth out there because I’m not the awful one. I wasn’t supported. I was actually bullied on some occasions throughout. I got punished for retaliating and I don’t feel that anything can be sorted out long term positively for all involved unless everything is published.
Also, as for DMU. I saw a new advert on youtube for them earlier. I wouldn’t be fooled by the students telling you how great the place is because it is believed that they were paid to promote the university. I also saw a comment posted on a social network from a girl who did go to DMU a few years back, saying that she was looking forward to going to see another university because she hated DMU. I know for a fact that this girl had mental health issues. The establishment relies on fakery and ‘putting on a show’. And, also, do you really want to go to a place where the vice chancellor gave our former prime minister an award for gay equality in hope for an exchange of a knighthood. Transgendered student bullied into committing suicide in the halls of residence… the damning list is never ending. Apparently, there was a time that they didn’t even pay their own staff for a while. Don’t believe their ‘hype’. They’re just portraying themselves as wonderful but it’s actually a very selfish energy there.