Mother who smoked up to £200 of heroin a day for 10 years says she even took the drug while PREGNANT

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  • Kay Shaw, 32, was addicted to heroin for 10 years smoking £200-a-day
  • When pregnant with her third child she was unable to break her addiction
  • When baby daughter Billie was born she was immediately taken into care
  • Baby Billie was healthy and not addicted to heroin despite mother’s abuse
  • For four more years her mother continued to abuse the drug
  • But at the age of 27 she decided to turn her life around and banish the drugs
  • Ms Shaw has been clean for the last five years and now wants to help others
  • She has since had another son Kenzie, now two, in May 2012
  • She said: ‘I’m so angry that I put drugs before my baby but I hope that one day I can make up for my mistakes’

 

A heroin addict pregnant with her third child continued to smoke the class A drug up until the birth of her daughter, powerless to stop her 10-year habit.

Kay Shaw smoked £200 of heroin a day at the height of her addiction.

Such was the hold the drug had over her, the 32-year-old was unable to break free of its grasp when she became pregnant with Billie.

Ashamed of her actions now she is clean, Ms Shaw said ‘it’s disgusting but it happens’.

Her daughter was born four weeks premature, and was immediately taken into care by social services.

The 32-year-old said having Kenzie, pictured with his mother and father Ryan Telford, feels like she has a second chance, adding she hopes to one day be reunited with her daughter Billie 

Former heroin addict Kay Shaw, now 32, continued to smoke the class A drug while pregnant with her third child. She is pictured with her son Kenzie, two, who was born after she got clean

At the height of her addiction, Ms Shaw was smoking £200-worth of the class A drug each day

The mother-of-four gave birth to her daughter Billie in February 2006. She was four weeks premature and was immediately taken into care. While she is in contact with her older sons Kye, 16, and Louis, 15, Ms Shaw (pictured with partner Ryan) is hoping to be reuninted with her daughter

Now Ms Shaw, who has been clean for the last five years, wants to warn others about the dangers of the class A drug.

She said: ‘I cried every day when I was pregnant and taking drugs because I felt so guilty.

‘I’m so ashamed of taking heroin during my pregnancy, but when you’re addicted to something it’s so hard. I think it’s disgusting but it happens.’

‘Just because you’re pregnant you can’t stop just like that.

‘I’m so angry that I put drugs before my baby but I hope that one day I can make up for my mistakes.

‘I want to show people that heroin is an evil drug that can wreck your life, but it is possible to battle back from the brink – I’m living proof of that.

‘I was worried about the harm I was doing the baby but I wasn’t the first to do it and I won’t be the last.

‘I’ve since had a baby boy, Kenzie, and I feel like I’ve been given a second chance.’

The mother-of-four grew up in West Yorkshire with her mother, older brother and sister.

She endured a tough childhood, leaving school at the age of 15 without any qualifications and pregnant with her first child.

She moved to Plumstead in London before giving birth to Kye, now 16, and a year later gave birth to her second son Louis, now 15.

But the stress of being a young mother took its toll. When she was 18, an older boyfriend pressured her into trying drugs.

Within a year her addiction had spiralled out of control and when her sons where four and five, Ms Shaw no longer felt able to care for them.

She said: ‘I sent them to live with their godparents so they could have a better life.

‘It was heartbreaking, but I know it was for the best.’

But with her children gone, Ms Shaw’s addiction escalated.

She split up with her partner but became pregnant accidentally when she was 23, by a different boyfriend.

She said: ‘I didn’t realise I was pregnant until I was six and a half months gone and I was terrified.

‘I was badly addicted to heroin and I knew I couldn’t be a proper mum but I could never have an abortion. I wouldn’t be able to live with myself.

‘I managed to cut down from taking £200 worth a day to £30 worth a day.

‘I went to see a drug worker straight away and was prescribed methadone but I still couldn’t quit. I felt so guilty.

‘Just because you’re pregnant you can’t stop just like that. I don’t agree with taking it while pregnant – I think it’s disgusting but it happens.’

In February 2006, Ms Shaw gave birth to a baby girl four weeks early after developing pneumonia.

She said: ‘When she was born I was overcome with emotion. I was happy but I was scared because I knew she wasn’t going to be able to stay with me.

‘Luckily she wasn’t addicted to heroin when she was born and despite everything she was a healthy baby.’

Billie was taken into care and for the next four years her mother continued taking drugs.

But when she was 27, she decided to turn her life around.

She said: ‘I knew I couldn’t get any lower. If carried on I was going to be dead in a couple of months.’

Ms Shaw left London and went to stay with her mother in West Yorkshire during the withdrawal period.

She started on buprenorphine, a heroin-substitute program, and has been clean ever since.

She said: ‘It was hard and I was tempted at times but I wanted my life back.’

The 32-year-old got her own flat and an office job with a taxi firm and after a short relationship she gave birth to Kenzie, now two, in May 2012.

She has recently become engaged to her partner of two years, Ryan Telford, a warehouse worker, and is hoping to marry as soon as possible.

She said: ‘Addiction is totally a mental illness – maybe it’s self-inflicted but you don’t know people’s background and how they got on it.

 

‘I’ve known people to die from an overdose or end up dangerously ill, I’ve went against all of the odds.’

Now the mother-of-four is focusing on being a full time mum to Kenzie at their home in Northumberland.

She said: ‘I’ve been given a second chance to be a mum again and Kenzie is my world.

‘I stay in touch with Kye and Louis and I hope that one day I’ll be reunited with Billie.

‘Having Kenzie makes me realize how much I’ve missed out on with my daughter.’

Government to make U-turn on disability benefits after IDS quit

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The Government is to formally drop its cuts to disabled benefits after Iain Duncan Smith’s dramatic resignation.

New Work and Pensions Secretary Stephen Crabb will tell the Commons in a statement that the curbs to the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) have been abandoned.

Prime Minister David Cameron is likely to be challenged over the situation when he addresses MPs about last week’s Brussels summit on the migrant crisis. 

The developments come after a day of Tory infighting that saw Mr Duncan Smith condemn Chancellor George Osborne’s ‘arbitrary’ cap on welfare spending and obsession with ‘short-term savings’.

In a round of interviews, the former Conservative leader insisted his decision to quit the Cabinet was not ‘personal’ or a ‘secondary attack’ on the Prime Minister over Europe.

He said he felt the party was undermining its ‘one nation’ ambitions by balancing the books on the back of the working age poor and vulnerable. The final trigger for his resignation was learning that Mr Osborne had ‘juxtaposed’ the £1.3 billion a year PIP curbs with tax cuts for the better off in the Budget. 
The truth is, yes, we need to get the deficit down, but we need to make sure we widen the scope of where we look to get that deficit down and not just narrow it down on working age benefits,’ Mr Duncan Smith said. 

‘Because otherwise it just looks like we see this as a pot of money, that it doesn’t matter because they don’t vote for us.’

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne looks on as Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn responds to his Budget statement to the House of Commons, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday March 16, 2016. See PA story BUDGET Main. Photo credit should read: PA Wire

Mr Duncan Smith flatly denied that his decision had anything to do with personal animosity to Mr Osborne or his desire for Britain to leave the EU, describing that as ‘the most puerile idea I have ever heard’.

Energy Secretary Amber Rudd told Sky News’s Murnaghan programme she had ‘respect’ for Mr Duncan Smith but his behaviour was ‘really disappointing’.

‘I do resent his high moral tone on that when the rest of us are absolutely committed to a one nation government,’ she said. ‘I do find his manner and his approach really disappointing.’ 

Pensions minister Lady Altmann accused her old boss of ‘shocking’ behaviour and of trying to inflict ‘maximum damage’ on the party leadership to get Britain out of the EU.

But colleagues Priti Patel, Justin Tomlinson and Shailesh Vara hit back at Lady Altmann.

Employment minister Ms Patel told BBC Radio 5 Live’s Pienaar’s Politics the departure was ‘not about Europe’.

With respect to Ros … what I would like to say is that working with Iain, he has always provided support and encouragement in all that we have done as a ministerial team,’ she said.

Tory backbencher Heidi Allen questioned whether Mr Osborne should continue as Chancellor.

‘It depends how he responds to that challenge … we’ll see in the weeks and months ahead,’ she told the BBC’s Sunday Politics.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell insisted Mr Osborne had to ‘rip up’ the financial package.

‘George Osborne needs to come back to Parliament now, pull this Budget and start again because this Budget isn’t sustainable any more,’ he told BBC Radio 5 live.

Labour is likely to table an urgent question in a bid to force the Chancellor to come to the Commons.

Mother of heroin victim turns grief into action

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State research says use of the drug in Wisconsin is four times the national average. Heroin deaths in Milwaukee County have gone up 500 percent in last 10 years.

WISN 12 News is taking an in-depth look Thursday and Friday at the epidemic, which is touching people everywhere.

Investigative reporter Colleen Henry spoke with a mother who’s turning her grief into action.

“She started out with back pain,” Martine Tate said.

It’s been three years since Tate buried her daughter, Valerie Powers-Ferris.

“She lost her insurance. Her medication wasn’t being paid for, and that’s where it transferred. That’s where it started happening with the heroin. It’s cheaper. It’s quick. It’s cheaper. It’s everywhere,” Tate said.

One day Tate got a call that Powers-Ferris was being airlifted to the hospital because of an overdose.

“That’s when I found out there was a problem with heroin,” Tate said. “That was the beginning of a journey that took us … I didn’t have any idea where it was going to take us.”

Powers-Ferris survived that overdose, but she lost custody of her two children and eventually lost her life at age 36.

“She really did try. She loved her children very much. She wanted to be with her children, but unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way,” Tate said.

Powers-Ferris’ death was just one of hundreds in a state struggling with spiraling heroin use. Experts say most addicts start by abusing pills before they turn to heroin.

“This is a public health crisis,” Tate said.

Tate is now working to educate parents by working with Wisconsin CAN: Change Addiction Now. She leads support sessions and raises awareness with family programming such as this week’s showing of the Mark Wahlberg film “If Only in Franklin.”

“I was one of those that thought, ‘Not my kid,’ and it was. Don’t ever say, ‘Not my child,’” Tate said. “Who thinks their child is doing heroin?’

Tate hopes candid talk about losing her daughter prompts other parents to ask for help.

“I get to keep her voice alive through me by speaking up and speaking out to never give up hope. There’s always hope that your child can get the right kind of help,” Tate said.

Ray of hope for glaucoma sufferers

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A new therapy for glaucoma could revolutionise the way the sight-threatening disorder is treated. The treatment, developed by British doctors, is designed to keep the pressure in the eye down after surgery, greatly improving its chances of success.

Glaucoma is a chronic condition where the pressure in the eyeball increases, damaging the optical nerve and causing loss of vision. The increase in pressure can result either from too much fluid being produced in the eye or, much more commonly, from too little fluid draining away.

At first, only the extreme edges of the field of vision are affected. However, if left untreated, the impairment spreads and can cause blindness.

Although some cases of glaucoma can be controlled by medicines and eye drops, one in ten people with the condition – around 20,000 a year in Britain alone – eventually needs surgery.

The new treatment, based on an antibody, will improve success rates by dramatically reducing the risk of side-effects and failure. ‘Glaucoma is the commonest cause of irreversible blindness in the world, and it is increasing,’ says Professor Peng Tee Khaw, consultant surgeon at Moorfields Eye hospital.

‘Surgery is the best treatment, but the big problem we have is the healing process itself.’ During surgery, laser or microsurgery techniques can be used to cut out part of the iris to allow excess fluid in the eye to escape.

The risk of surgery is that the act of cutting triggers the body’s own repair mechanisms, which creates scar tissue at the sight of the cut. In many cases, the scar tissue continues to be generated, so that it reduces or closes the new drainage channel, which can eventually lead to loss of vision. It is estimated that in up to half of patients, the surgery can fail in some way so that pressure builds up again.

‘The main reason operating fails is because of the development of this excessive scar tissue,’ says Dr David Glover, medical director of Cambridge Antibody Technology, the British company pioneering the new treatment.

‘Our drug helps to prevent this from developing.’ Researchers have discovered that the main culprit is a growth factor – a molecule in the eye whose job is to orchestrate the repair process. An added problem is that people with glaucoma have higher levels of this growth factor, so every time fluid passes through the new drainage channel it deposits more of the factor, leading to more scar tissue.

The new therapy is based on a human antibody to the growth factor. More than 80 people in Britain have so far had the new treatment in clinical trials, and another 350 are scheduled for the therapy at a number of hospitals in Britain and Europe this autumn.

And researchers believe they have also found a second and unexpected benefit from the treatment. Doctors have known for some time that patients who have undergone surgery for glaucoma have a much higher risk of going on to develop cataracts.

They now suspect that the same growth factor may be involved. It is thought that once activated to repair the damage caused by surgery, the higher levels of growth factor need something to work on – and so cause the cataract to grow.

‘Theoretically at least, the antibody drug could prevent it from happening,’ says Professor Khaw. ‘That, of course, would also be a great step forwards.’

Mother hasn’t eaten food in seven YEARS and never will again because her stomach muscles are paralysed

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A mother has not eaten a meal for seven years due to a rare condition which left her stomach paralysed.

Nicola Nichols, 25, from Bolton, was struck down by a ‘mild case of man flu’ in 2008.

She has not been able to keep any food or drink down since and vomited up to 50 times every day.

Initially doctors believed she had an eating disorder, before finally diagnosing her with gastroparesis.

This is a condition in which the stomach muscles are paralysed, meaning food is not emptied properly.

Nicola Nichols, 25, has to be fed through a tube directly into her bloodstream (left) as she was diagnosed has a rare condition meaning her stomach muscles are paralysed in 2008 (right) 
 

Mrs Nichols has not eaten food for seven years and gave birth to children William, three, and Felicity, 11 months despite not being able to eat during her pregnancy

She is kept alive by a food and glucose bags that feeds directly into her blood stream, and a glucose bag that provides her with energy.

She unable to eat anything at her wedding to IT worker Ben, 27, and has been told she will never eat again.

Mrs Nichols said: ‘I can’t really stress just how mild this flu was – I called it man flu.

‘My mum had flu at the same time but mine was only slightly different.

‘But once I started vomiting, it is crippling pain and I haven’t really stopped vomiting since.

‘We always say that you take eating and drinking for granted until you can’t do it.

‘I still cook the kid’s teas and it smells and looks great but if I even had a bite then I’d be in crippling pain.’

The mother-of-two ‘miracle’ children was forced to jack in her new admin job after just three months to battle the debilitating illness.

Her weight plummeted from nine stone to just seven and her attempts to regain weight by eating food caused her to regurgitate anything she consumed.

The condition meant at her wedding she could only look on as guests lapped up a feast of duck, beef and a rich chocolate cake for dessert.

Mrs Nichols said: ‘Imagine being sat at the top table at your wedding watching everyone tuck in to the wedding cake that you made and you can’t have any.

‘It was the same with the wedding breakfast and I just had to hold the glass of champagne for the toast, I couldn’t even have a sip.

‘Of course, it was a magical day but it was so difficult.’

Mrs Nichols’ problems began when she was 18. Her stomach stopped working after a bout of flu two years earlier, leaving her unable to keep any food or liquid down.

She would vomit up to 50 times a day, but doctors suspected she had an eating disorder.

Finally, in 2008 Mrs Nichols was diagnosed with gastroparesis, a condition in which there is a problem with nerves or stomach muscles, meaning it does not empty itself of food properly.

It is caused by damage to the vagus nerve, which regulates the digestive system.

When this nerve is damaged, the muscles in the stomach and intestines stop working, preventing food from moving through the digestive system properly.

It is usually cause by diabetes, Parkinson’s or as a complication of surgery, but sometimes there is no clear cause and sufferers report they  after coming down with flu, a virus, food poisoning or after taking antibiotics.

Mrs Nichols was fitted with a gastro pacemaker, a metal device fitted in the abdomen to transmit electrical signals to the stomach muscles to get them working again.

But the emergency measure failed and she suffered intestinal failure, where her bowel could not digest the foods and absorb the fluids necessary for her to live.

She has to be fed directly into her bloodstream with total parenteral nutrition (TPN) – a specially made three-litre bag and pump that gives her nutrients for 12 hours every night.

She has a food bag two days a week and a glucose bag five days a week, which both have to be stored between two and eight degrees.

Spike in Cost of Certain Oral Cancer Drugs Puts Squeeze on Patients, Study Finds

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As rising drug costs have become a topic of intense debate, a new review finds a significant increase for some cancer drugs.

The cost of certain oral medications for cancer treatment have increased multiple-fold since 2000, according to a study published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The average cost for certain orally administered treatments have increased dramatically, even after prices were adjusted for inflation, according to a researcher at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who examined data from a prescription drug database. Additionally, newer drugs cost far more than drugs already on the market, the study found.

These drugs fight cancer in a variety of ways, and are generally less stressful on the patient compared to traditional chemotherapy treatments.

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These kinds of medications have become more popular since 2000, with 32 therapies introduced between 2000 to 2014. Costs for these kinds of treatment rose from an average of $1,869 a month for those launched in 2000 to $11,325 a month for the drugs launched in 2014. When she compared products launched from 2000 to 2010 to those launched after 2010, the researcher found a 63 percent increase in the mean monthly spending during the first year the product was on the market. Products launched between 2000 to 2010 cost had a mean monthly spending of $5,529 for the first year they were on the market compared to the products launched after 2010, which had a mean monthly spending of $9,013.

“The major trend here is that these products are just getting more expensive over time,” study author Stacie Dusetzina, of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and an assistant professor in the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy and UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, said in a statement today.

Dusetzina pointed out there has been a push to create these anti-cancer drugs for patients, but that the increasing prices may make it difficult or nearly impossible for a patient to access these new therapies.

“Patients are increasingly taking on the burden of paying for these high-cost specialty drugs as plans move toward use of higher deductibles and co-insurance — where a patient will pay a percentage of the drug cost rather than a flat copay,” Dusetzina said.

She did not speculate about why these drugs have risen in cost in recent years.

Shawn Osborne, vice president of Pharmacy and Supply Chain Services at University Hospitals of Cleveland, said these kinds of oral cancer therapies have gotten more attention recently since they have shown better outcomes for patients.

“It’s a more targeted therapy that’s typically more pleasant,” than infusion chemotherapy, he said.

Because some of these drugs have shown better outcomes for patients, manufacturers are charging more, he said. Additionally, he pointed out that because the drugs are new, getting access to the drugs can be more expensive.

Many of these drugs are newer and manufacturers require that patients be strictly monitored if they are taking the drugs so that more data can be collected, Osborne said, noting that this monitoring can require expensive infrastructure.

Osborne said he suspects the drug prices will at some point stop increasing at the same high rate.

“I do think that with these drugs there’s a balance out there that will be struck at some point,” he said.

The disability benefit cuts you haven’t heard about

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PIP cuts have been scrapped but changes to employment and support allowance next year will mean a big reduction for new claimants

Jacqueline Bell spent 28 years working and stopped, with great regret, when she was made redundant by two successive employers for missing days because she was unwell. In her last job as a chamber maid in a hotel, her lung condition made it impossible to find the breath needed to make the beds.

She would like to return to work, but thinks it will be impossible to find an employer ready to accommodate her ill-health. If she did go back to work and then found that for health reasons she was unable to maintain employment, from April next year she would expect to be on a much lower disability benefit than the £102 weekly payment she is now getting. The employment and support allowance (ESA) for new claimants placed in the work-related activity group will be cut by £30 a week, a measure the government has justified by explaining that it will “incentivise” people to find jobs. Bell, 51, believes the policy is “delusional”.

Although the government has announced a U-turn over the cuts to personal independence payments in a bid to contain the political crisis that erupted after the budget, there is mounting anger from recipients of disability benefits over the scale of less-publicised cuts that have not been overturned and are due to take effect from next year.

George Osborne repeatedly insisted at a Treasury select committee hearing on Thursday that he had no plans for future welfare cuts, but this will have been little consolation for around half a million people who will be affected by major reductions already approved by parliament. Dozens of disability protesters occupied parliament’s central lobby on Wednesday calling on the government to reverse its other disability cuts – reductions, which they said were making claimants feel suicidal.

“Forcing people to work when they can’t work is not going to cure their illness,” Bell says. “You can’t just pull out a spare set of lungs from your back pocket. I will struggle to pay my bills. I really don’t know how I will cope.”

This area of benefits is wrapped up in complex terminology, but the human suffering beneath the various confusingly named benefit sub-sections is so real and so widely felt that mastering the bemusing lexicon of welfare acronyms is vital.

Those already in the work-related activity group will not have their disability benefit cut, but there is real anxiety among claimants about how they would manage if they came off the benefit to take tentative steps into work but then had to come back on to it at the reduced rate. The £30 cut for new ESA claimants in the work-related activity group from April 2017 is equivalent to around a third of the current weekly benefit.

At the moment people who are deemed to be too unwell to work by the government’s work capability assessment, are put into two groups – those judged permanently unable to work are moved into the “support group” and paid £109; those judged to be too ill or disabled to work immediately (but theoretically capable of work at some point in the future) are put in the work-related activity group, and currently receive about £102 a week.

It is new applicants in this group who will see their income cut, after reductions were included in the welfare reform and work bill, which was passed in early March. From this time next year they will receive the same amount of money as jobseeker’s allowance claimants. The change is expected to bring £1.4bn of savings by 2020.

There are almost half a million sick and disabled people receiving this benefit at the moment; the extra money previously recognised that these people are likely to be unemployed for longer than other jobseekers who are not struggling with disabilities or health difficulties.

Most current recipients find it hard to understand the government’s justification that the cut will incentivise people to step up their job search. About 69% of disabled people surveyed by the Disability Benefits Consortium say that cuts to ESA will cause their health to suffer and 45% believe it will mean it takes them longer to return to work. A third said they already had difficulty feeding themselves at the benefit’s current levels. Almost 70% said they would struggle to pay their bills if they were claiming the benefit on the reduced rate.

Dozens of people emailed the Guardian this week to explain how they would be hit if they found themselves receiving £30 a week less. Most said that such a significant cut to their finances would affect their ability to find work.

“I’d probably have to rely on food banks,” wrote one current claimant, who wanted to remain anonymous, calculating the possibility of incorporating a £30 cut to his weekly budget. They added: “It will just sink those who are unwell further into illness through stress.”

William Timmins said that it would mean “that for three days of the week I won’t be able to afford to eat.” Others described how (in addition to struggling with food and heating bills) they would no longer be able to afford an internet connection, which would make complying with the requirement to search for work very difficult.

“It won’t incentivise me to return to work. It will demoralise me and make me feel like I’m completely worthless,” wrote Lauren Stonebanks, 36, a former medical student, unable to continue with her studies because of her mental health illness.

One woman said a cut would make it hard to decide whether to attend doctor’s appointments “or not, given the bus fare, parking charges etc”. She wrote: “We did not cause the financial crisis and it is not acceptable to persecute those unable to work.”

Phil Reynolds, co-chair of the Disability Benefits Consortium who is also Parkinson’s UK policy adviser, said the cut “laboured under the misapprehension that these people are well enough to go back to work”. He said: “We believe it is not possible to incentivise these people back to work by cutting their benefit.”

Beth Grossman, head of policy and research at disability charity Scope, said: “Half a million disabled people will be affected by the reduction in employment and support allowance – losing around £30 a week – at a time when they are already struggling to make ends meet. We have significant concerns that reducing support will not only have a harmful impact on financial wellbeing but will also push disabled people further from the workplace.”

Both said they felt the significance of this looming cut had been wrongly overlooked this week as the government highlighted its readiness to backtrack on PIP cuts.

Bell, who lives in Paisley, has been to court three times to appeal after being refused disability benefits (each time a judge ruled in her favour), and is currently in the work-related activity group, so expects eventually to see her income reduced by a third. Last November she was in hospital with pneumonia and pleurisy when she received a letter telling her she was required to engage in “intensive work-related activity”; she feels under constant pressure to comply with jobcentre requirements that are beyond her capabilities.

“I worked hard for years, and paid into the system,” she said. “I was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder when I was 35 and I didn’t give up. I went on working until I couldn’t work any more. I loved working – it got me out of the house, mixing with other adults instead of just being stuck at home with the kids.

“I would love to go work again and have a normal life, but who is going to employ me?.”

How To Get Students On The Autism Spectrum To Succeed In College

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STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Richard was one of the brightest kids in his high school class. His parents figured college was the next step, but that dream was nearly cut short in his first semester.

Miscommunication with a professor resulted in an argument over handing in a paper he wasn’t finished with. Richard stormed in and out of the classroom several times, trying to retrieve the paper. The incident left the professor feeling afraid, some students in the room shouting at Richard and college administrators unsure whether to bar him from classes.

Richard is on the autism spectrum. There are ways to manage intense reactions such as his, but — like most people — neither the professor nor the students in that class knew anything about them.

The increase in the number of young people diagnosed with autism in the last 14 years has been staggering — from one in 152 in 2002 to an estimated one in 68 today. Funding and focus for autism have remained centered on helping younger kids cope. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of children like Richard turn 18 every year. (Students in this story all asked to be identified by their first names only.) They are often as smart as or smarter than their peers, but they go to college in far fewer numbers. They are even less likely to go to college than people with most other disabilities

Only a few dozen colleges have programs specifically designed to support students with autism, a recent study found. Many of the programs that do exist cost thousands of dollars per semester, on top of tuition. But there are practical and inexpensive methods to help these hundreds of thousands of students navigate the social and academic landmines that stymie them. Failing to help likely consigns them, as adults, to low-wage jobs, dependence on public assistance or ongoing reliance on their parents — who may also be struggling and are unlikely to outlive them.

A pilot program on five campuses at the City University of New York, where the number of students who disclosed that they are on the spectrum has more than doubled since 2012, has shown promising results.

Most CUNY students are low-income, and almost 40 percent come from households with incomes below $20,000 a year. The pilot program was implemented at no cost to students, and, for the most part, students participating in it over the last four years have been more likely to stay enrolled, improve their academic performance (grades for 60 percent of the participants at Kingsborough Community College went up) and report increased satisfaction with their social experience.

Faculty who oversee the program, dubbed Project REACH, emphasize that because of the vast differences in the behaviors and abilities of people on the spectrum, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. But the program is built around a combination that works: weekly workshops (which are open to all students with disabilities) and one-on-one peer mentorship seem to meet a lot of students’ needs.

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Nick, a sophomore majoring in psychology, was diagnosed as a little boy with autism and attention deficit disorder. When he was younger he struggled with overwhelming waves of emotion and frustration that sometimes led to screaming and fits of rage that were hard to control. He and his parents chose the College of Staten Island because they heard it was supportive of students on the spectrum.

Nick, 19, had an A average in high school and is now in the college’s honors program, where he currently has a 3.14 GPA. Sitting in the psychology department in a gray T-shirt and blue sweatpants, lightly tapping his foot, he says he still struggles sometimes.

“I know if I could just take a minute out of my day and plan, I’d be so much better. I genuinely get so frustrated with myself,” he said, looking down, his foot-tapping becoming more strenuous and his face contorting, as if he were suddenly awash in that frustration.

He put his head down on the table for a moment, and then looked up, focused on the present once again.

“REACH helped me, because it made me more confident,” he said. “It made me understand more what autism was, and that made me more relaxed and more able to participate in class.”

The group sessions, which simulate an actual class environment, not only teach relevant topics, but also help students work on behaviors that can be problematic in their regular classes, such as being disruptive or not speaking at all.

“You can talk at people all you want about social skills,” said Kristen Gillespie-Lynch, assistant professor of psychology and director of Project REACH at CSI, “but there has to be an element of doing it for people to learn it. … That’s why we have the group classes.”

The workshops vary depending upon student interest and what the faculty think is needed. Topics have included how to use a syllabus, job interviews and resume writing, as well as social skills. Classes have also discussed self-advocacy, including if, when and how to disclose a disability.

“Initially when I wrote the proposal, I thought we would mostly do social skills, but they weren’t interested,” said Stella Woodroffe, director of Access-Ability Services at Kingsborough Community College, laughing. “It sounded too much like therapy. They’d had enough of it. They wanted more college skills and social events.”

Over one in 10 coeliacs left waiting decade or more for vital diagnosis

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More than one in 10 people who suffer from coeliac disease, a gut disorder that leaves them unable to absorb vital nutrients if they eat gluten, can wait a decade or more to find out what is wrong with them.

The only way to manage the life-long illness is to strictly avoid eating any foods that contain gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye.

The degree to which it is to being missed by doctors has led the Coeliac Society of Ireland to organise a seminar for GPs next week to educate them about symptoms that can mimic other diseases or be too vague.

Many patients have already suffered the effects of malnutrition by the time it is diagnosed and are left with conditions such as the bone-thinning disease osteoporosis, multiple miscarriages, infertility or damage to the lining of the gut.

Grainne Denning, the organisation’s chief executive, said: “A survey of members indicated that it took over five years for diagnosis for 12pc of coeliacs, with 11pc saying it took over 10 years.

“With so many coeliacs believed to be undiagnosed, we believe that improving coeliac disease knowledge in the GP community is essential to improving the rate of diagnosis and the management of coeliac disease, without additional cost to the health service.”

It means many of the one in 100 people with the disease in Ireland are still unaware they have it. Common symptoms can include stomach pain, diarrhoea, fatigue and weight loss.

But doctors can miss it as these symptoms range from mild to severe. A patient may just feel fatigue and none of the other signs. It can be confused with irritable bowel syndrome but some of the treatments for this contain gluten which makes it even worse.

Coeliac disease can be detected by a blood test which can show if antibodies are in the bloodstream. This is followed by a biopsy to confirm diagnosis. Coeliacs have to follow a diet that excludes gluten, which is found in bread, baked goods and pasta.

While the range of gluten-free products has increased dramatically in recent years, they are more expensive than regular varieties.

Among the speakers at next week’s seminar in Dublin will be Dr Chris Steele, the resident GP on ITV’s ‘This Morning’ programme.

He was diagnosed with the disease in recent years at the age of 64. He was treated for irritable bowel syndrome first after suffering stomach pains and feeling run down for a year. He had such loose bowels he had to take anti-diarrhoea tablets before going on air.

When the treatment for irritable bowel syndrome was not working over time, he went to see a specialist.

He said: “I think the symptoms of coeliac disease may have been coming on for a long time but it wasn’t until I had gut problems that I took notice.”

‘I don’t have stomach problems any more’

Niamch Foskin spent nearly 20 years feeling unwell before accidentally finding the answer to why she was suffering such severe stomach pains.

The 34-year-old primary school teacher from Mullinavat, Co Kilkenny, was told in her teens she had irritable bowel syndrome but she found no relief from the medicines she was prescribed.

Her symptoms were particularly bad in her mid-20s. “I could not eat. I would have a pain in my stomach and have a hot water bottle on it,” she recalled.

It was not until last year, after being baffled about why she suffered bone fractures from simple falls, that she went to the A&E department in Waterford Regional where scans and a blood test were carried out.

They found she had developed the bone-thinning disease osteoporosis, a condition that mostly affects older people. While the blood test discovered she had coeliac disease.

The symptoms she had endured for so many years suddenly made sense when she was told how she should have been avoiding any foods containing gluten, the protein found in wheat, barley and rye.

“I had been doing the completely wrong things for years.

“I was convinced I had irritable bowel syndrome and was eating a lot of brown bread for instance. I really had coeliac disease which meant I should have avoided anything with gluten in it such as brown bread.”

Niamh is now fully gluten-free. “I don’t have stomach problems like I did before,” she said.

View of gluten-free diets as fad ‘damaging’ to coeliacs

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Estimated one per cent of the population is allergic to gluten

The characterisation of gluten-free diets as “a fad” is damaging to people who have coeliac disease and cannot digest the protein, head of the Coeliac Society of Ireland has said.

Gráinne Denning was speaking as Coeliac Awareness Week got under way. Increasing number of people are declaring themselves to be allergic to gluten but just 46,000 people, or one per cent of the population actually have coeliac disease. One UCC study found that only one in 10 people buying gluten-free products were coeliacs.

People with coeliac disease cannot digest gluten, the protein found in wheat, barley and rye and when they eat it, their symptoms include abdominal pain, recurring mouth-ulcers, weight-loss, vomiting and diarrhoea. A blood test followed by a biopsy from the small intestine is the most conclusive way to diagnose coeliac disease.

People with the disease fear that restaurants will not take their request for gluten-free dishes seriously if servers think it is being made for lifestyle rather than medical reasons.

Ms Denning said there had been a lot of talk in recent years about how gluten-free eating was just a fad. “This completely undermines the seriousness of coeliac disease and the fact that, for those diagnosed with the disease, the only treatment is to follow a gluten-free diet,” she said.

“While some people choose to eat gluten-free simply because they think it’s a healthier lifestyle, those with coeliac disease must do so or they will suffer serious health consequences and severe pain.”

Butcher shops in Dublin, Kilkenny, Cork, Limerick and Galway will hold gluten-free cooking demonstrations this week to mark Coeliac Awareness Week. To mark the week, the Coeliac Society and chef Adrian Martin broke a new record for cooking the largest gluten-free potato pancake. The pancake, measuring 1.5 metres, will now claim a place in the Guinness Book of Records.