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The Sunflower Conversations
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The Sunflower Conversations

Author: Hidden Disabilities Sunflower

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The Sunflower Conversations deliver a deeper understanding of the Sunflower's role in supporting people with hidden disabilities. The topics are often personal and explore hidden disabilities through the prism of the Sunflower with guests hosted by members of the HIdden Disabilities Sunflower team. Making the invisible, visible.
24 Episodes
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Disability isn’t tragicMik Lenth is 19 and lives in the MidWest in the US and has Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS) which affects her connective tissue. The type that Mik has is hypermobility which means that her joints come out of place and dislocate.Mik talks us through her condition and how it has affected her growing up, particularly at school and how it continued into employment. The symptoms have progressively got worse and has led to several operations on her jaw and knee.With a good support system Mik doesn’t let her chronic illness hold her back and is looking forward to studying in Madrid this year and advocating for invisible disabilities.If you are experiencing problems discussed in this podcast contact your GP.For supportCharity: Ehlers Danlos Support UK.Hosted by Chantal Boyle and Lynn Smith, Hidden Disabilities Sunflower.Want to share your story? email conversations@hiddendisabilitiesstore.comVisit the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower website.
Supporting families with additional needs Benedict Symcox is CEO of charity, Family Voice Surrey, which is a parent carer forum.We learn how they engage with parents of children with additional needs, of which there are over 30,000 families in Surrey. They use the lived experiences of real people to help inform the council's policy making and services.By listening to parents and carers they are able to create mini communities for them to feel supported, as well as offering training.Organisations discussed in this podcast:Family Voice Surrey Family Voice Surrey Facebook groupIf you can help with their website (pro-bono) contact contact@familyvoicesurrey.org Hosted by Chantal Boyle and Paul Shriever, Hidden Disabilities Sunflower.Want to share your story? email conversations@hiddendisabilitiesstore.comVisit the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower website.
Don't judge me

Don't judge me

2021-07-2518:38

Don't judge meKez Symcox is neurodiverse, and has comorbidities, including: autism spectrum disorder, Tourettes, generalised anxiety disorder, depression, an eating disorder, PTSD traits, chronic fatigue syndrome, functional neurological disorder, and is awaiting an ADHD assessment.We chat to Kez and her mum, Benedicte, to find out what their normal is.  After many years of seeking medical advice and support what becomes clear is how mentally and physically demanding it is for Kez's parents.  There always seems to be a battle to get the correct diagnosis which has had it's own impacts on their mental health.Now that Kez knows what her conditions are it has allowed her to find support and a sense of community through online groups. Looking ahead to the future Kez is passionate about raising awareness of minority issues. In the words of Benedicte 'It will be okay'.If you are experiencing problems discussed in this podcast contact your GP.Organisations discussed in this podcast:Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAHMS)Hosted by Paul Shriever and Chantal Boyle, Hidden Disabilities Sunflower.Want to share your story? email conversations@hiddendisabilitiesstore.comVisit the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower website.
Never Give Up

Never Give Up

2021-07-1124:57

 Never Give UpTom Ryan-Elliott has epilepsy and aphasia because of a brain injury he received while on holiday in Las Vegas. He has no recollection of the accident and has had several years of rehabilitation. His epilepsy gives him Simple Focal and Atonic Clonic seizures, and the aphasia affects his speech and language processing. Over time he has developed coping strategies and with the use of technology he is on a mission to re-enter the world of employment.Now a keen photographer Tom’s moto is ‘never give up’.If you are experiencing problems discussed in this podcast contact your GP.Organisations discussed in this podcast:Tom Ryan-Elliot's photographyFor brain injuries - HeadwayFor aphasia - Aphasia Re-connectHosted by Chantal Boyle, Hidden Disabilities Sunflower.Want to share your story? email conversations@hiddendisabilitiesstore.comVisit the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower website.
The day I stopped

The day I stopped

2021-07-0428:38

The day I stoppedIn this podcast we talk to Hidden Disability Sunflower team member - Paul Shriever. Paul chats about his own invisible disabilities - in his thirties with a young family Paul was admitted to A&E and told that he needed life saving open heart surgery- the treatment he received was a mitral heart valve replacement (titanium).The trauma of this experience and also being asthmatic from an early age has caused Paul a great deal of anxiety. Overtime he has learnt coping mechanisms and readdressed the balance in his life both physically and mentally.If you are experiencing problems discussed in this podcast contact your GP.To find out more about asthma, check out Asthma UK, a charity that offers information and support to people with asthma.  You can also call the charity's helpline team on 0300 222 5800.Hosted by Chantal Boyle, Hidden Disabilities Sunflower.Want to share your story? email conversations@hiddendisabilitiesstore.com Visit the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower website.
I'm not a problem childSaxon Boone lives in  Canada.  Saxon finally received her diagnosis of autism after teachers thought that she was a problem child.  Additionally she has ADHD, anxiety and Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PSOC).Her health conditions are intertwined  and the medication she takes to balance her hormones for PSOC can affect her mood which then affects her other conditions.Saxon shares with us her coping mechanisms to help her navigate her daily life and her hopes for the here and now and the future.Hosted by Paul Shriever, Hidden Disabilities Sunflower.Visit the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower website.
An easier day out

An easier day out

2021-06-2008:15

Maddie White has anxiety and depression which sometimes makes it difficult for her to navigate daily life, especially when out in a public place on her own. Maddie often feels uncomfortable if she needed to ask a stranger for help finding something in a shop or asking for directions if unsure of where to go, when taking public transport.In this conversation, Maddie tells us how wearing the Sunflower has made things a lot easier. She feels that staff in businesses and organisations that recognise and support the Sunflower are more mindful and aware, making her feel more secure as she passes through airports or does her weekly shop. Hosted by Paul Shriever,  Hidden Disabilities Sunflower
In this Sunflower Conversation, Paul Pengelly discusses how fibromyalgia impacts his physical and mental health. It took almost three years for Paul to be diagnosed and his acceptance of his condition has been key to making adjustments, from pacing his life to using a scooter as well as making useful changes to his home environment. We talk about how fibromyalgia is intrinsically linked to his mental health and that this has progressed in line with his condition. In Paul’s own words “I’m either off or on … there’s no in-between.” Paul is a Sunflower Champion and has been a Sunflower wearer and advocate for the last few years. He is an admin of the Sunflower Lanyard Advocacy group on Facebook, one the Sunflower Support groups  that highlights the use of the Sunflower lanyard for non-visible disabilities.The NHS advises that if you think you have fibromyalgia to visit your GP. To find out more about fibromyalgia, check out Fibromyalgia Action UK, a charity that offers information and support to people with fibromyalgia.  You can also call the charity's helpline on 0300 999 3333.Hosted by Paul Shriever and Chantal Boyle, Hidden Disabilities Sunflower.
A Life Rebuilt

A Life Rebuilt

2021-06-0628:05

Darren Carew was a career solider in the Army until an accident occurred which would change his life forever. In this conversation Darren explains how his whole world was turned upside down by the accident which has left him an amputee with a mild brain trauma, dyscalculia and PTSD. We talk about the impact his conditions have had on him and his family.Darren has since gone on to forge a new career as Disability Rugby Coordinator with the Welsh Rugby Union Group. He works with all ages in the community and puts inclusion at the heart of everything he does. In Darren’s own words “I’m 100% a better person for my experiences.”You can find out more disability projects that Darren by contacting him on Twitter @DisRugbyDCThe NHS advise that if you or your child are experiencing problems after a traumatic experience, or if the symptoms are particularly troublesome you should contact your GP.Hosted by Paul Shriever and Chantal Boyle, Hidden Disabilities Sunflower.Visit the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower website.
Asperger Syndrome (ASC) and Alcohol Matthew Tinsley has a degree in Modern Languages and had a long career as a bookseller in independent bookshops. In this conversation Matthew explains how his alcohol addiction and his Asperger Syndrome Condition are linked.After many years struggling with alcoholism and two failed marriages, he overcame his addiction - largely due to his self-awareness of his autistic spectrum condition, together with a long period in rehab using cognitive behavioural therapy.Matthew has co-written a book with autism specialist, Sarah Hendrickx called Asperger Syndrome and Alcohol, Drinking to Cope.If you are affected by addiction please speak to your GP or approach a local treatment service.Hosted by Paul Shriever and Chantal Boyle, Hidden Disabilities SunflowerVisit the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower website.
Believe to achieve

Believe to achieve

2021-05-2314:59

Believe to achieve Lorina is 18 years old is autistic and dyspraxic, and also has a rare condition called microdeletion on a chromosome. These conditions mean that she has learning difficulties and has struggled to socialise and understand social cues from people. After being told that it was unlikely that she would be able to ride a bike due to balance and gross motor skills, Lorina started skiing 3 ½ years ago and joined the Special Olympics Great Britain (SOGB) in 2018.   As well as winning Gold in Slalom, Bronze in Super G and Gold in Giant Slalom, in her category, it has improved her confidence and sense of belonging. Lorina now has a community of friends that are athletes based all over the country. Find out more about the Special OlympicsHosted by Paul Shriever, Hidden Disabilities SunflowerVisit the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower website.
Inclusive shopping experience Zoe Inman, the Centre Director at one the UK’s largest shopping centres, The Trafford Centre, talks to us about why disability inclusion is so important to them. The Hidden Disabilities Sunflower is integral to their wide-reaching accessibility program that includes staff training and development across a range of disabilities to support their customers and one another. The government guidelines during the pandemic put huge pressure on retail staff to protect their customers but also themselves which is why they have adopted social distance awareness campaign, Please give me space.They have listened to customer feedback and are pulling out all the stops welcoming everyone back through their doors.  You can obtain a Sunflower lanyard from their customer service desk. Hosted by Paul Shriever and Chantal Boyle, Hidden Disabilities SunflowerVisit the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower website.Visit the Please give me space website.
Exceed your limitationsMark Charlesworth has a multitude of health conditions including, autism, ADHD, epilepsy and PTSD that were diagnosed later in life. In this conversation we hear how Mark has altered his working pattern to his advantage. He now advises businesses to recognise the talents that exist in neuro diverse employees and how to support them.Mark also describes his experiences with wearing the Sunflower and how it has given him a sense of security when going out.Hosted by Paul Shriever and Chantal Boyle, Hidden Disabilities SunflowerVisit the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower website.
Different is my normal

Different is my normal

2021-04-2524:50

Different is my normal Bailey is in a mainstream secondary school and has the following health conditions, dyspraxia, attention deficit disorder, dyscalculia and DAMP which means Deficits in Attention, Motor Control and Perception. Parents, Steven and Aneeta, tell us how Bailey has exceeded the limitations of her diagnosis with support from them. Bailey’s experiences at school made her decide to use her artistic talent to raise awareness and acceptance of hidden disabilities. She has designed some clothing using impactful language related to how she feels.Hosted by Paul Shriever and Chantal Boyle, Hidden Disabilities SunflowerVisit the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower website.
The Brighton COVID NHS Mass Vaccination Centre, Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust With up to 3,000 vaccines administered a day, The Brighton Vaccination Centre is the largest hub in Sussex. Staff have received the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower training and have been welcoming people through their doors.With that many appointments every day it is a slick operation. The pandemic has been incredibly difficult for everyone and the NHS want to protect as many people as they can. Clinical Nurse Manager, Susie, explains why it is important that people with hidden disabilities feel at ease, recognizing the Sunflower means that they can offer that extra time and understanding.Hidden Disabilities Sunflower is working with the NHS to support people with hidden disabilities during the vaccine roll-out by providing free Hidden Disabilities Sunflower training and products to NHS vaccination centres.Hosted by Chantal Boyle, Hidden Disabilities SunflowerVisit the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower website.
Sense of Hope

Sense of Hope

2021-04-1118:53

In her final dissertation for a Master of Science in Psychology, Sarah Hughes researched the experiences of eight families with autistic members to explore the barriers that exist to everyday life and how choosing to wear the Sunflower could potentially help. Sarah found that the parents valued the Sunflower as it reduced unwanted comments from strangers as well as feeling that they needed to explain the behaviour of their children. The parents in Sarah’s study also discovered that once people recognised the Sunflower, they would stop judging and instead of expecting the child to change, they adjust their own behaviour and expectations.Hosted by Paul Shriever, Hidden Disabilities SunflowerVisit the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower website.
Not every autistic person is the same, everyone is different, as are the variety of occupations available to all of us. So, we ask “why is the employment gap for autistic people so vast?”In this podcast we are joined by Mike Adams of Purple, Matt Putts of Employment Horizons and Paul White, Hidden Disabilities Sunflower, to discuss what barriers currently exist to employment, not just for autistic people but disabled people in general, and how easy it is to remove them.Embracing diversity and different thinking brings huge value to an organisation and its talent pool that will only make it richer.Hosted by Chantal Boyle, Hidden Disabilities SunflowerVisit the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower website.
Maria Cook is very candid about the multitude of hidden disabilities that her son, Ryan, has. They include autism, development delay, significant learning disabilities, sensory processing disorder, sensory modulation difficulties, hyperacusis and synesthesia. Maria is Ryan’s champion and voice as she has had to navigate the various diagnosis’ and adapt to the challenges of Ryan’s conditions. Nothing is insurmountable for this family and we get a real insight to what their life is like and what they have overcome together.Hosted by Paul Shriever and Ruth Rabet, Hidden Disabilities Sunflower.Visit the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower website.
Sara Barsel is an advocate for people with dementia. The conversation focuses on how frightening the experiences can be when you start forgetting what it is you are trying to do or how to do it and how frustrations can be linked with violent behaviour. The Dementia Friendly Airports working group based in Minnesota that Sara heads up has influenced the Airline industry in the US to change their approach to the security process which can be overwhelming and not accessible.In Sara’s view The Hidden Disabilities Sunflower gives people with dementia a dignified choice to be self-identified.Hosted by Paul Shriever and Ruth Rabet, Hidden Disabilities Sunflower.Visit the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower website.
Mark Isherwood, Elected Regional Member of the Senedd, (Welsh Parliament), explains how the pandemic has affected people of all ages, in particular people from disadvantaged groups. Reduced accessibility to support, education and even shopping has had a big impact. Mark is a champion of the social model that advocates for making societal changes to ensure a fairer more equal society for people with disabilities.   We also talk about Please give me space. A social distancing awareness campaign to help anyone experiencing challenges to maintain a safe space. Launched by the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower and the RNIB. Hosted by Paul Shriever and Chantal Boyle from Hidden Disabilities Sunflower.Visit the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower website.Visit the Please give me space website.
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