Calvin Billington-Glen talks about Mental Health Stigma on Chrissy B show

Calvin Billington-Glen talks about Mental Health Stigma on Chrissy B show

Anna Kennedy’s regular slot on Chrissy B show, welcomes her guest, Dorset Mind Ambassador, Calvin Billington-Glen.

Calvin has Asperger’s syndrome and, in the past, has suffered with severe anxiety, clinical depression and psychosis. But he speaks about his personal experience at several events in a bid to raise awareness and reduce the stigma relating to speaking out about mental health.

He is also a very talented singer/songwriter and also performs on the show.

Please watch the video and find out more.

Autism charity Anna Kennedy Online’s SEN Summer Fun Day hailed a success

Autism charity Anna Kennedy Online’s SEN Summer Fun Day hailed a success

On 22nd August 2018, hosted at Oakwood School, national autism Charity Anna Kennedy Online and Hillingdon Dads Support Group in collaboration held their first SEN Summer Fun Day for Children with disabilities and their siblings.

The event was kindly sponsored by the Carers Champion of London Borough of Hillingdon and Anna Kennedy Online.

The Mayor of Hillingdon and Mayoress supported the event and chatted to many parents and children.

The event displayed stalls where parents could seek advice from various charities and support groups both locally and nationally for Parents of children with disabilities and special educational needs.

Chloe’s Castles Entertainment was a big hit with children throughout the day along with a quiet zone for some down time.

Many of the children enjoyed having their Face Painted, Glitter Tattoos, Slime Making and having fun with the bubble machine.

Kevin Bugler Chairperson of Hillingdon Dads and Anna Kennedy OBE have shared that this was a great day had by all and both agreed this will be an annual event .

Their next joint event will be their second autism friendly Santa Grotto on December 15th.


First Romanian rescue assistance dog in the world to fly back to Romania – by Tess Wolfie

First Romanian rescue assistance dog in the world to fly back to Romania – by Tess Wolfie

Kratu is a fully qualified assistance dog as I am on the Autistic Spectrum so he would be allowed to fly with me. After his success at Crufts I also wanted to do more research into the guarding breeds he is crossed with as many come here and are put back into rescue and sadly to sleep as there is not enough information about their specific breeds and their guarding traits. I decided to return to Romania with Kratu to try to change perceptions about rescue dogs.

We flew from Luton airport and the airport staff were amazing. I was terrified and doubting the whole trip but the staff were so kind and helpful and we boarded with out any problems. The crew were also amazing and even the pilot came to say hello to Kratu!

Kratu and I had been invited by Alina Rusu Associate Professor, PhD (Faculty of Psychology and Sciences of Education, Babes-Bolyai University) to attend a lecture for her animal psychology students to share out story and to show everyone the incredible animal human bond we have.


When we arrived at the University and I have never been so proud of Kratu, despite being really hot inside he behaved with impeccable manners and just loved meeting the students, charming them as he does all who meet him.

There were also two TV news stations that heard about us and wanted to interview us alongside a leading newspaper. We were then interviewed by Cluj TVR and filmed there, then after the lecture we were filmed by Digi TV at a local park. During this filming a group of children and their parents watched us with astonishment, but the parents said their children could come and stroke him and they loved meeting him.

Kratu is a cross of two strong guarding breeds, Mioritic and Carpathian, and in Romania and you do not see dogs like him walking down the busy streets in town. He turned heads all the time everywhere as to see a big dog like Kratu with his assistance dog jacket and a film crew – people did attract lots of attention.

The following day we met up with Ray Dorgelo from Canine Efficiency who works and trains LGD (Livestock Guard Dogs) we had taken two people from UK  to visit working LGD to find out more about the usual roles and behaviours and background history.

Ray came to UK the following month after our return to do a special lecture for the staff at Wood Green, Kratu was a special guest to educate about the guarding behaviours and  genetics of the Romanian shepherds, and to help understand the ones that are going back into rescue far too frequently as often put in the wrong and inexperienced homes.

Many are put to sleep here because of guarding behaviour, which sadly is typical for the breed.  You will not get a breed like Kratu from a public shelter, as Kratu was rescued at a few weeks old and had intensive socialising and training from then, four years on and still training.

We also met with George Mosoi who has Dog Assist – Terapie Asistata de Animale (a dog therapy organisation)  he was very interested in meeting Kratu and hearing about his training and the therapy work Kratu had done at a home for people with dementia.

There is another organisation in Bucharest that are using rescue dogs to train as therapy dogs. This is something I want to support with Kratu and we will return next year to see how we can help. Hopefully two reward based trainer friends will come too.

We get confirmation in September about an invitation to speak at an international event there again about the animal human bond and our story of how he is my support and assistance and how that helps me on a daily basis with being autistic.

We met with Vlad Vancia who is a Biologist at Societatea Română de Antrozoologie and he is also a dog behaviour consultant, and writes for an radio station about animals.

Vlad Vancia was very interested in discussing the reward based training we do and is very keen to change the way people train dogs in Cluj.I saw a lot of prong colours on dogs when we were walking around town, times and perceptions are changing.

Kratu is an incredible ambassador for rescue and he certainly made a difference to some people in Romania. Seeing him return home to share his story touched hearts and we went back to his birthplace and this was a very emotional journey.

For a little puppy who had left such humble and dangerous beginnings, returned with so many achievements and loved by many people worldwide. Kratu has nearly 11 million views on his Crufts video, which has given us a platform to share our story from.

There are also autistic people working with dogs to support them in Romania and this is a cause close to my heart, we will do all we can to help them and are in regular contact and working on what we can do to help.

We hope to raise some funds over the following months as I did this alone with Kratu with no help. Whilst I was simply terrified and did things on a wing and a prayer by facing the fears, doubts and insecurities. My belief in Kratu and his unconditional love and support helps both of us achieve things that other wise would just be impossible.

By Tess Wolfie

Bristol City Council – SEN Budget Reductions Quashed Due to Their Failure to Consult

Bristol City Council – SEN Budget Reductions Quashed Due to Their Failure to Consult

The Bristol parents who recently crowd funded to challenge their Local Authority’s (LA) decision to reduce services available to children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) were rewarded with a decision in their favour.

The parents claimed that the LA had failed to consult before deciding to reduce budgets. The LA’s response was that they didn’t need to consult.

In the High Court, His Honour Judge Cotter QC, was not persuaded by the LA’s arguments and found they had not, as they were required to do, consult before reducing budgetary reductions to SEND services. To make things worse, he found that there was no evidence of regard by the LA to the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children when making the decision, as required by section 11 of the Children Act 2004.

The result was that the LA were ordered to go back and think again.

The full decision can be found click here

Disability Discrimination Landmark Case Weakens Exclusion Loophole

Disability Discrimination Landmark Case Weakens Exclusion Loophole

On the 8th August 2018 the Upper Tribunal handed down its decision in C&C v The Governing Body of a School (click here) which is likely to be of assistance to many disabled children facing exclusion. The decision is somewhat dense but our summary will focus on what it means on a practical basis for schools and children.

The definition of disability is found (click here) in the Equality Act 2010 and this provides protection for children in school who satisfy this definition of disability. However, when it came to exclusions from school because of physically challenging behaviour, Governing Bodies often said that the behaviour for which the child was excluded falls within Regulation 4(1)(c) The Equality Act 2010 (Disability) Regulations 2010 (the Regulations’):

4.—(1) For the purposes of the Act the following conditions are to be treated as not amounting to impairments:—

(c) a tendency to physical ….. of other persons,

Hence, the protection afforded to the child by the Equality Act 2010 was lifted. In practical terms, children with an ASD, ADHD, Sensory Processing Disorders etc who were excluded because of behaviour which arose as a consequence of their disability (referred to in the decision as ‘Meltdowns’) were often left with no redress.

This matter was considered by the Upper Tribunal on more than one occasion but, for whatever reason, the Regulations (known as secondary legislation) were seen to apply in schools.

So, what has changed?

Upper Tribunal Judge Rowley looked at the European Convention on Human Rights specifically

Article 2 of the First Protocol

No person shall be denied the right to education. In the exercise of any functions which it assumes in relation to education and to teaching, the State shall respect the right of parents to ensure such education and teaching in conformity with their own religious and philosophical convictions

And, ARTICLE 14 – Prohibition of discrimination

The enjoyment of the rights and freedoms set forth in this Convention shall be secured without discrimination on any ground such as sex, race, colour, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, association with a national minority, property, birth or other status.

His conclusion was that Regulation 4(1) (c ) was incompatible and should be dis-applied, something that had not really been considered previously.

So, what does this mean for disabled children who have ‘meltdowns’ and are at risk of exclusion? It doesn’t mean that exclusion is not possible if a Governing Body can successfully make the argument that exclusion is a ‘treatment’ that  is ‘a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim’. The legitimate aim put forward often relates to ‘health and safety’ and the need to maintain good discipline within the school, but they would also have to show that the punitive sanction of exclusion was the only thing that can be done in the circumstances. It is also worth noting that, in our opinion, this would be a difficult argument to make if all reasonable adjustments had not been made for the child. What it does mean is that the shield provided to a Governing Body by the Regulations has gone.

Month: August 2018