Anna Kennedy’s guest on ‘All things Autism’ this week: Elena Vidal

Anna Kennedy’s guest on ‘All things Autism’ this week: Elena Vidal

Elena Vidal was Anna Kennedy’s guest last week on ‘All things Autism’ on Womens Radio Station.

Hidden Potential- Autism Awareness Training

Elena Vidal was born in Leon, a beautiful city in the northwest of Spain. Thanks to an Eramus scholarship that she received when she was studying for her BA English Language and Linguistics in Madrid, she moved to London.

Her life completely changed when she did a work experience placement at St Mary Magdalene Academy when she was studying a Master’s degree at Middlesex University. Supporting a child on the Autism Spectrum opened Elena’s eyes in regards to what Autism is and how fascinating it is to see the world from a different angle.

Elena completed her PGCE and she specialized herself in SEN and Autism and started to work at The Courtyard school.

Within the six years that Elena has worked at the Courtyard, she has progressed to a valued position of leadership as the Head of 6th form provision and the Outreach Lead.

At the Courtyard, Elena supports pupils to investigate different types of careers and the routes into these careers. This support is offered through academic guidance, social and emotional support and practical work experience placements.

To date, the Courtyard has a 0% NEETs value. This is primarily down to the dedication that Elena shows to researching the next steps for our pupils and supporting them effectively to succeed once they have left the school. Elena always compliments the Headteacher and the staff team, as without them all this wouldn’t be possible. Elena is very grateful to all members of staff at The Courtyard.

Elena believes every young person with autism deserves a fighting chance to make a successful transition from school and college to work, we work very hard every day to ensure all individuals, regardless of their needs, are respected and valued for their talents and abilities.

Eleana has recognised the need for developmental outreach in colleges and local businesses to support the needs of pupils with ASC and other additional needs in order to develop their skills and professional practice and ultimately benefit from the gifts that such individuals can bring to an organisation.

This is an innovative and creative approach to tackling the concerning statistics published by government (2016) that only 16% of autistic adults are in full time work.

That’s why he Outreach initiative started in September 2019 in order to raise Autism awareness and make sure young people on the Autism Spectrum can have a successful career journey in the workplace.

Elena believes the Autism training courses offered to companies not only help people on the Autism spectrum (better self-esteem, improved mental health and well-being, independence, etc) but also companies. If companies increase neuro diversity in the workplace, they can become more profitable.

By enabling the workplace to extract the potential out of ALL of employees, companies can benefit from the strengths people with Autism have, such as problem solving skills and attention to detail, high levels of concentration, reliability and loyalty, technical ability and specialist interest and resourcefulness.

If you want to sign up to one of the Autism Awareness Training courses offered by The Courtyard, contact Elena Vidal: and click on:

“No barrier is a closed door; it is simply an opportunity to support and educate to benefit all”.

If you would like to be one of Anna’s guests on ‘All things Autism’ please contact

If you missed Anna Kennedy OBE’s interview this week on Women’s Radio Station with Elena Vidal it will be aired again this weekend at 1pm and 1am.

ChAPS celebrates tenth anniversary

ChAPS celebrates tenth anniversary

For any small charity to have set up and helped hundreds, if not thousands, of people for a decade is no mean feat.

To have done so, and continued to grow and develop, and celebrate its 10th anniversary with bundles of hope and ambition for the future, is even better. And that is the case with Cheshire Autism Practical Support, or ChAPS, for short.

Jo Garner, Managing Director, first set up ChAPS those 10 years ago. Since then, the charity has supported countless people on the autism spectrum and their families, with the ambition to ‘support and educate parents to help your child be the best that they can be’.

The longevity, and the success, has been very much down to a team effort.

“ChAPS has been running now for ten years which I think is an incredible achievement in the current climate,” says Jo, who first started the charity to help her own son, who is on the autism spectrum. Jo said: “It is all down to our team, which is a tightly-knit family unit primarily of staff who are parents themselves of a child or adult with additional needs.We all understand the difficulties and issues and celebrate the successes and amazing capability of all of our members.”

Jo Garner from Cheshire Autism“One of our patrons – Anna Kennedy OBE – is a hugely inspirational personality and runs Anna Kennedy Online, a national charity helping to increase awareness of autism.

Anna’s extremely successful ‘Autism’s Got Talent’ event has run for nine years now and it celebrates how awesome children and adults on the autism spectrum are in an evening of performances in theatres up and down the country.

Anna will be bringing her roadshow to Cheshire in May and we are so excited that she will be up North to present her very special evening of entertainment for ChAPS as we celebrate 10 years.”

Anna said: “I am excited to be working with ChAPS for our Autism’s got Talent Roadshow. I am proud of being a patron to this wonderful charity and feel honoured to be celebrating 10 years with what will be a night to remember!”

The event takes place at The Brindley in Runcorn, and anyone on the autism spectrum (whether diagnosed or not) is in with a chance of featuring in the performance.

Those interested are asked to submit a video clip and short biography to Emily at before February 28 2020.
As with all charities, funding is essential for ChAPS to be able to continue to provide the range of activities which they do.

Receiving a second National Lottery grant for a Sustainability Project, which will last for five years, is a “game changer” as it secures the charity’s future without leaving it reliant on successfully securing future grants. This project has allowed ChAPS to offer accredited Professional Training with Open Awards including workshops such as ‘Introduction to Autism’ being very well received.

The Open Awards carry a mix of theory, practical advice and workshops, with ‘Pathological Demand Avoidance’ another to have been completed, and others such as ‘Working with autistic adults’ planned for the future.The second initiative of this project is Learning 4 Life, a specialist-led social care provision for adults on the autism spectrum, again whether they have been diagnosed or not.

The initial project in Northwich has enjoyed “remarkable engagement” and will soon be expanded to include Widnes and Chester, with anyone interested encouraged to contact ChAPS. Funding from clinical commissioning groups is also allowing ChAPS to run further parent training workshops whilst NHS England are supporting child and adult mindfulness courses, Lego and Play Therapy across the county.

Also, the experience and improvements seen to the families whom ChAPS have taken on summer camping excursions in North Wales has prompted the ambition to fund a campsite, with anyone knowing any suitable land available in Cheshire also invited to contact the charity.

The charity’s range of services continue, including putting on daytime activities such as Animal interaction, Craft and Art and ice-skating for the growing number of children who are being home-educated.

Funding provided for British Science Week will see ChAPS providing STEM activities both to home educators and their general membership at the charity’s Kidz and Youth Clubs. ChAPS has offices in Runcorn, Cheshire and a training room in Northwich, but are also keen to expand further.

“As the charity has grown and the staffing accordingly, we are now looking for premises for an Autism Centre,” adds Jo: “We run 90 activities every month and a lot of the intensive work that we do needs premises to be available both in the daytime and evening.It is the next step for our small charity and we are super-excited to be in this position but again, we would love to hear from anyone who knows of any buildings that might be suitable in the mid-Cheshire area.The future is certainly bright and exciting!”

Anyone able to help with any of the above is asked to contact ChAPS on 0344 850 8607 or email

Celebration of Autistic talent coming to Clacton – 1st March 2020

Celebration of Autistic talent coming to Clacton – 1st March 2020

Autism Anglia invite you to come and help celebrate a variety of talent at their Autism Variety Show, to be held on 1st March 2020 at the West Cliff Theatre, Clacton. 

​Autism Anglia invite you to come and help celebrate a variety of talent at their Autism Variety Show, to be held on 1st March 2020 at the West Cliff Theatre, Clacton.

Autism AngliaThe Autism charity will be hosting a celebration of autistic talent on stage, along with friends of the charity and Special Guest Dean Beadle!

We are being supported by the wonderful Evolution Foundation College, Colchester, with Jacqui Tapsell as Stage Director, and college students will be supporting the performers on stage.

Autism Anglia Charity Ambassador, Anna Kennedy OBE, will be compering the evening, along with Gateway Radio’s DJ Aston Avery and one of AnnaKennedyonline’s Autism Advocates.

Anna Kennedy shared: ‘I am excited to see all the performers showcase their talent on stage. It is most definitely going to be a memorable evening for all those involved. Its about what our autistic children and adults CAN do. I will be looking out for performers that may want to be involved in my Autism’s Got Talent Roadshows’.

Tickets are now on sale at: Anglia

There will be a discount for Autism Anglia members .If you wish to have an advert in their Programme, or are able to provide a raffle prize or sponsor the charity, they would love to hear from you!

Please contact Autism Anglia on email

Anna’s guest on Women’s Radio – Cathy Harpham

Anna’s guest on Women’s Radio – Cathy Harpham

Anna’s guest this week on Womens Radio Station was Cathy Harpham talking about the big decision to Home Educate her daughter Izzy

I am a married mum of 3 children – Olivia, Isabelle and Alex. Olivia and Alex seem to thrive in school, but Isabelle really struggled. I had several moments throughout Isabelle’s life, when I didn’t trust my intuition. I remember feeling she just wasn’t ready to start school at the required age and I felt she was just more vulnerable in some ways.

To cut a long story short, Isabelle’s problems started in Year 5 of Primary School. She developed a skin condition which would flare up from time to time and cause discomfort and led to several absences from school. Some absences began to be when her skin wasn’t particularly bad and she would start worrying about other things too. I had a good communication link with her teachers and had several meetings to discuss ways to make her day easier for her. She was given extra support in some lessons and access to a social group. Her skin eventually cleared up, but her worries and anxieties continued to be there for her.

When she transitioned from the small primary to the huge High School, it became a different story. She continued to complete her work to the best of her ability but was unable to bring herself to attend school on some days.

We again, kept up a strong link between ourselves and the school staff, resulting in several meetings to discuss ways to make it easier for Izzy to be in school. She was offered support short term  but nothing really improved for Isabelle on a personal level. She had panic attacks at the thought of going in, sat crying in a lot of her lessons and became very attached to me. Having to also deal with letters regarding her attendance, caused quite a bit of turmoil and was quite stressful for the whole family. The school helped in the best way they knew how to, at that time.

We exhausted every possible option for education, in the surrounding area, thinking maybe a smaller school might fit her needs best. We also researched home education. It became evident that she struggled on so many different levels, in a busy and noisy school environment, which was too overwhelming for her. She became a shell of who she was and then something just shifted for me.

After much research and discussions as a family, we decided to de-register Isabelle and home educate her. Our happy girl returned overnight and the whole family noticed the difference in her.

Having decided how we wanted to home educate, as it’s a personal journey for each family,  we decided we wanted to roughly follow the National Curriculum, using Isabelle is thriving now, as she has always loved learning and can now focus and grow in a calm and supportive environment at home.

I have since been drawn to research further into Isabelle’s difficulties and we have uncovered a whole new world to understand. Through the professional expertise and incredible support of Spectrum North West, Isabelle has been empowered, by having a full explanation about her difficulties being concerned with the fact that she has Sensory Processing Issues.

Alongside and most definitely helping and enhancing my journey so far, has been my counselling training. I am soon to qualify as a Person Centred Counsellor, having studied for several years at I am hoping to continue my journey with learning more about how counselling can be made more accessible for those with sensory processing issues/autism. This will be through an amazing charity called , where I hope to be volunteering alongside Lisa Cromar, as my mentor and support.

Despite my nerves getting the better of me on my radio interview with Anna Kennedy recently, it was fantastic and almost surreal to be heard on several topics which I feel so passionate about! I hope, more than anything, to reach out to others who are maybe experiencing anything similar to what I have been through and say you are not alone!!

Trust your intuition and let it guide you. I have set up a facebook group called Sensory Musings if anyone wants to join and discuss issues or share information around this. I can also be contacted via email

Thank you for reading!

Equality Act 2010 – Duty on employers to make reasonable adjustments for their staff

Equality Act 2010 – Duty on employers to make reasonable adjustments for their staff

Where someone meets the definition of a disabled person in the Equality Act 2010 (the Act) employers are required to make reasonable adjustments to any elements of the job which place a disabled person at a substantial disadvantage compared to non-disabled people.

Employers are only required to make adjustments that are reasonable.

Factors such as the cost and practicability of making an adjustment and the resources available to the employer may be relevant in deciding what is reasonable.

Please click here to download

Please note that this is general guidance only and cannot by its nature deal with all circumstances. It is always best for you to take your own, independent legal advice if you are unsure of your obligations in specific circumstances.

This guidance is aimed at businesses to help them understand what adjustments they are required to make for disabled employees and job applicants. Of course, individual circumstances may vary and employers need to act in accordance with their legal obligations.

Further useful information can be found at the end.

Month: January 2020