Autism and Inclusive Sports: Melanie Timbelake – Anna’s guest on Women’s Radio

Autism and Inclusive Sports: Melanie Timbelake – Anna’s guest on Women’s Radio

​Anna Kennedy OBE’s guest this week on ‘All things Autism’ Womens Radio Station was Melanie Timbelake 

Melanie shared with Anna : ‘I am a mum to Cameron diagnosed with an autism spectrum condition and Ewan (Hypermobility Syndrome), I am a full time school sports coach and a volunteer Pan- Disability football coach and Inclusive Marital Arts Coach.  I got into disability sport because of my sons.

They struggled with mainstream clubs and I wanted them never to feel that they couldn’t do anything, I wanted them to realise anything was possible it’s just the way you are taught it.

I started coaching sport 5 years ago, this journey started with Risborough Rangers JFC Pan-Disability Team.

Over 5 years this has grown to 3 teams across 3 age groups.

Most of the children in these sessions have ASD. I then went onto coach Inclusive Martial Arts with Ikkaido. I coach weekly sessions and also sessions at Special Needs schools.

I was honoured to win the Bucks and MK Community Coach of the year 2018 and the UK Disability coach of the year 2018.

This year I was honoured to be selected as one for the 50 people in the Lucozade Movers List 2019, a list of 50 people who are making a movement in their community to get people active.

Sport has so many benefits for people with ASD and I have seen this first hand with son. It helps their mental well-being, social interaction, self confidence, it gives them somewhere to escape but also the groups I run help support the parents too, they gain support for other parents.

Coaching has helped me develop as a person it has helped my mental well being, my self confidence. I would love to see more and more sports become accessible for people with ASD and for more people to experience the benefits and enjoyment it can bring. 

Everyone can learn, everyone can do sport but it’s about giving them the fun enjoyable experience that they can take away with them and that will hopefully encourage them to continue. Have a look at what sports are available in your area go and watch a few sessions, join in if you want too by doing this you will know if it’s right for you.”

If you missed Melanie’s interview it will be repeated everyday this week at 1pm for the rest of the week:

Melanie is also a finalist for the Autism Hero Awards to be held at Chelsea Harbour Hotel London November 9th.

#GUAB Give Us A Break 2019: Our Anti-Bullying campaign

#GUAB Give Us A Break 2019: Our Anti-Bullying campaign

Introducing #GUAB Give Us A Break 2019 Anti-bullying campaign: Spectrum Complete – FMA + 12 Gage

FMA + 12 Gage are a father and son rap duo who use their music to combat their mental health issues. The pair are made up of Matthew Bennett who is now 40 years old and Callum Gage Bennett who is 21.

Matthew was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome at the age of 36 and Callum was diagnosed with Dyslexia at 16. They have been performing together for the past six years and began working together as a way of helping Callum’s confidence which in turn, helped Callum to overcome a stutter that he used to suffer from.

They released their debut album, Parental Advisory, in October 2018 to much acclaim. “The father and son of unholy flows spit with a unique, roughly-hewn, Prestonian intensity” Tom O’Boyle – Metal Hammer In 2017 they were invited to perform at the charity showcase event, Autism’s Got Talent, where they met Anna Kennedy.

It was here that Matthew first experienced a truly welcoming and accepting environment. He had this to say about his time there – “Being autistic is a very lonely experience – you see, hear and feel things differently to others, which makes it hard to connect with people.

Autism’s Got Talent is a place where that loneliness did not exist. It was such a comfortable, understanding and welcoming environment. We met so many amazing and talented people and had far more fun than we ever expected to.

Anna has managed to create something that both shows the talents of those on the spectrum as well as showing those same people that they’re not alone in this world.”

In 2019, Anna Kennedy approached the pair with an idea to create a song for the ‘Give Us A Break’ anti bullying campaign.

Matthew and Callum both jumped at the chance of being able to help other people through using their music.

After two months of hard work, trial and error, frustration and many scrapped ideas, Spectrum was finally born.

Callum drew upon his experiences of dealing with an abusive, bullying step parent when he was younger and Matthew looked to his early life and struggles with addiction and isolation as sources of inspiration.

Please watch this powerful video

After two months of hard work, trial and error, frustration and many scrapped ideas, Spectrum was finally born. Callum drew upon his experiences of dealing with an abusive, bullying step parent when he was younger and Matthew looked to his early life and struggles with addiction and isolation as sources of inspiration.

Both vocalists stepped out of their comfort zone to deliver a softer more emotional song than the ones that they normally create. The song is built around a message of hope, and in turn, FMA + 12 Gage hope that it connects with those who are struggling like they once were.

No matter the difficulties the pair went through to create the song, two months of hard work pales in comparison to letting someone know that they are not alone.

FMA + 12 Gage would like to thank both Anna Kennedy and the ‘Give Us A Break’ campaign for giving them this opportunity.

The Give Us A Break campaign with founder and Autism Ambassador Anna Kennedy OBE calls on all schools, colleges, work places and social events to join the #GUAB campaign and help to make a real change to the lives of all people effected, including people with Autism and other neurological and physical disabilities, by helping people to have the courage to speak up and understand that it is NOT OK to bully in any form.

UK Autism Charity Anna Kennedy Online is dedicated to raising Autism awareness, acceptance, training and understanding to both schools, colleges and within the community to help create a better environment so that all our children and adults can thrive and make their the world just like everyone else.

Follow FMA + 12 Gage on all social media @FMA12Gage

To read more about Matthew and Callum’s journey click here

A few tips for a happy halloween

A few tips for a happy halloween

Trick or treating can be a daunting prospect for children with autism, here are a few tips for a happy Halloween.

For some children with autism, Halloween can be stressful and demanding.

Both my sons Patrick and Angelo have always loved Halloween. Every year we design a pumpkin face and buy sweets to give the trick or treaters. Patrick enjoyed dressing up when he was younger. One particular year I made him a dinosaur costume out of cardboard and crepe paper. He thought it was wonderful and wore it in the evening for a whole week!

At our schools for children with autism, the children celebrate Halloween by baking cakes and making masks and lanterns. We also talk about the day to explain what will happen, depending on the level of understanding of the children at the schools.

Here are a few tips on preparing your child for Halloween:


  • Discuss and decide together what costume your child will choose.
  • Take into account not only his or her preferences, but also sensory concerns, for example a Spider-man costume may include a full mask – which can become overwhelming.
  • Some children love face paint, but others can’t take the sticky sensation. Make a plan that you can stick to.

Plan, plan, plan!
Choose a time to leave the house.

Plan a route.
Discuss what will happen when you come home – can they dump their sweets on the floor? What may he or she eat?

Keep it simple.

  • Knowing your child, how can you expect them to react? If they can handle just one house, that’s fine.
  • Create a social picture story. Use digital photos, images from the web, or other sources to show and tell exactly what your child will do.
  • Include all the steps, not forgetting that they must knock at the door, say “Trick or Treat!” and “Thank You!” Read the social story together, not once but as often as possible.
  • From time to time, also ask – “what if no one is home?” Help them understand that it’s ok to skip a house, to take a treat from a basket (if that’s ok with you), and so on.

Practice, practice, practice!

  • Put on the costume many times before the ‘Big Night’ and work out any unpredictable situations, such as a stuck zip!
  • Role-play the entire trick or treat scenario as often as you can. Act out a number of scenarios so your child has a small repertoire of possible responses.
  • What should she say when someone says “You look beautiful (or scary or creepy)!”?
  • What if you don’t like the treat that’s offered? What if you meet kids you know?
  • Check out the area of where you live ahead of time. Do you see any decorations that might upset your child e.g. some children with autism are frightened of balloons?
  • Are there any flashing lights that might trigger sensory reactions? If so, consider skipping that house (or visiting ahead of time) to avoid meltdowns.
    Include friends
  • Consider recruiting peer support.
  • If your child with autism has no siblings (or his siblings have other plans), consider recruiting another typical peer to go house-to-house with you.
  • Explain to that child and his parents that he will be helping your child to understand Halloween a little better.

You may be surprised at how helpful another child can be!

On the big night, remember to be flexible. If your well-prepared child suddenly rebels against his costume, consider letting him go in just a silly hat.

Have fun!

  • Remember that Halloween is for fun – and it really doesn’t matter what he wears or how many homes he visits.
  • Take pictures.
  • Get excited.
  • Have fun!
  • Even if you’re only going to one house, make it an event.

When you’re done, put together a memory book that can help you prepare for next year.

Autism Passport

Autism Passport

​At Autism Anglia, we’re excited to launch our new Autism Passport.

The Passport has been produced for individuals with autism and can be used in a variety of situations, e.g. court settings, police stations, Job Centres, doctors’ surgeries, religious settings, councils and for employment purposes.

The Passport is based on the principle of ‘saying it only once’, to help others understand and make suitable adjustments.

The Passport has been written by Annie Sands (author and Autism Anglia’s Welfare Rights Adviser) in response to her experiences when representing many individuals over the years at appeals and tribunals.

Annie combined feedback from the autistic community about what they have found stressful, coupled with the types of reasonable adjustments that can be made and to ensure autistic people are not at a disadvantage.

The Passport has been kindly sponsored by Anna Kennedy, who is a Champion for Autism Anglia. Anna says, “after seeing the passport created by Autism Anglia, I was pleased to see that this passport will be launched very soon.

Many of our young people and autistic adults in these overwhelming situations would find these passports essential and would be of great support. Reasonable adjustments are key for autistic individuals and can make all the difference. I am proud to champion Autism Anglia and this initiative.”

The Passport comes in either pocket-sized A6 or larger A5, depending on your preference.

You can collect a passport for free at our head office or at our events but is also available from our online shop (you only pay the P&P).

Month: October 2019