Anna Kennedy Online – Autism Awareness Charity
Members of Parliament are seeking clarification in the face of reports concerning government objectives to reduce the quantity of Education, Health, and Care Plans.

Members of Parliament are seeking clarification in the face of reports concerning government objectives to reduce the quantity of Education, Health, and Care Plans.


Members of Parliament are seeking clarification in the face of reports concerning government objectives to reduce the quantity of Education, Health, and Care Plans.


The Education Committee has raised concerns and sought clarification from the Department for Education (DfE) regarding a recent report in The Observer. According to this report, the government entered into a contract with a consultancy firm in July 2022 as part of the Delivering Better Value in Send programme, with the apparent goal of achieving a minimum 20% reduction in new Education, Health, and Care plans (EHCPs) issued.


In a letter addressed to David Johnston, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children, Families, and Wellbeing, committee chair Robin Walker MP expressed concern over this revelation. This development appeared to contradict statements made by former children’s minister Claire Coutinho, who, during an evidence session in May 2023, asserted that the DfE was not attempting to limit EHCPs through the SEND and AP Improvement Plan.


Recent reports have also highlighted efforts by Kingston and Richmond councils to “manage demand” for EHCPs, further raising concerns about potential rationing.


Despite these concerns, the committee voiced its support for various proposals outlined in the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) and Alternative Provision (AP) Improvement Plan, released earlier in the year. These proposals included increasing the training of Special Educational Needs Coordinators and educational psychologists, standardising and digitising EHCPs, and boosting overall funding through the Change Programme.


The committee welcomed Coutinho’s confirmation that mandatory mediation would not be tested in the Change Programme. This decision addressed concerns raised by witnesses and families, who feared that mediation would become compulsory to resolve EHCP disputes before initiating tribunal appeals.


Additionally, the committee appreciated Coutinho’s announcement that inspectors who assess specialist settings would receive specific SEND training as part of the Ofsted strategy 2022-27, which includes both initial training and annual updates. However, the committee sought information on the proportion of inspectors with backgrounds in special schools.


In conclusion, Walker acknowledged that while the SEND and AP Improvement Plan contained many positive measures for the benefit of children and young people, issues such as funding, regional disparities, workforce challenges, early identification, and timelines continued to be sources of concern.


In response, a spokesperson from the Department for Education refuted claims that support for children and young people with SEND was being withdrawn. They emphasized that there were no specific targets for reducing EHCPs and highlighted the government’s substantial investments in high needs budgets and capital. The DfE’s reform plan aimed to enhance SEND support with earlier interventions, with EHCPs remaining available for parents as a vital option.


The Education Committee’s request for clarification reflects ongoing scrutiny of government policies and actions related to special educational needs and disabilities, ensuring that the rights and needs of children with SEND are adequately met.


A copy of the letter Mr Robin Walker MP sent to David Johnston Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children, Families and Wellbeing can be found here:




Our day to day emotional state is a direct communication of how we are feeling mentally.

Particularly for those of us who are neurodiverse, this emotional communication is even more important to listen to due to all the masking, autistic hangovers, burnout and eventually complete shut downs as a result of trying to “appear normal”.



The lack of true awareness and education surrounding neurodivergence only emphasises and supports the chronic lack of support and understanding.

Our emotions are signals to us ; our bodies bringing our attention to something, often letting us know when something within ourselves is out of kilter.

Stress means we need to slow down and apply some self care. Not always easy in this fast paced world, I know.

Anxiety means you’re not feeling safe and need calm and grounding.

Anger and frustration can often be tiredness, overwhelm, a result of masking for too long.


Not feeling bothered or having enough energy for personal care, self isolating from those who love you, falling behind with things, a negative change in your sleep pattern, or a lack of passion for things you normally enjoy are strong symptoms of depression.

If you are isolating, not responding to family of friends, struggling to get out of bed, feeling less patient or more irritable, feeling overwhelmed or on edge, living in clutter or mess and have stopped doing the things that keep you mentally healthy, you could well be suffering from mental health illness.

Taking some time for you is so important.



Whether it’s a simple 5 minute daily yoga routine, self massage/self soothing, journaling, exercising, meditating ( including listening to guided visualisations which can be accessed freely on apps like YouTube, reducing your social media intake, spending time in nature or simply reading a chapter of a book will all help.

A good diet and exercising/ moving your body is also invaluable.

Here are a few ideas and therapies you can use daily to regulate and boost your emotions and mental health.

Daily routines


Yoga for sleep


Self massage/self soothing routine


Meditation to release anxiety

I hope that some of these ideas will help you all stay on top of those emotions and nourish your mental health in these busy and uncertain times we live in.

See you next week !

Lots of love,

Giuliana xx

Announcing our Autism’s Got Talent 2023 Performers

Announcing our Autism’s Got Talent 2023 Performers

Congratulations to all the acts chosen to perform at this years Autism’s Got Talent!


We’ve had submissions from all over the world and after a long and difficult process, we have finally picked 18 talented acts to perform at the Mermaid Theatre in October 2023. We’re delighted to announce those acts will be as follows:


Henry Bradshaw 

Isla McManus 

Poppy Pandit 

Eden-Raine Smith 

Oscar Bugaev 

Shay Marie Ellis 

Abrianna Holmes 

Finlay Minnis 

Alanna Barry

Casper Mason 

Nath Trevett 

Fred Tennant 

Zach Brookes 

Kian Butler 

Skye Richards 

Colin Brennan

Joey Chike

Atypical with Attitude

Pineapple Performing Arts supporting Autism’s Got Talent



The stage awaits you…

If you were not successful this time, it is no reflection on you or your Talent. We received so many entries that it was very difficult to choose our final 18 performers. Please apply again next year.

Cautionary Alert: Concerns Arise Over the Accuracy of Autism Information on Social Media

Cautionary Alert: Concerns Arise Over the Accuracy of Autism Information on Social Media

In a recent study published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, researchers have issued a cautionary note regarding the reliability of information concerning autism circulating on social media platforms, particularly TikTok. While the proliferation of autism-related content on social media has undoubtedly raised awareness, this study has unveiled disconcerting findings.


The study examined the precision and reach of autism-related information on TikTok, a platform boasting approximately 1.677 billion global users and 1.1 billion monthly active users. Astonishingly, videos associated with the hashtag ‘#Autism’ amassed a staggering 11.5 billion views. These statistics underscore the influence that social media can exert in shaping public perceptions and understanding of subjects such as autism.


However, the crux of the issue lies in the accuracy of the information being presented. The researchers meticulously scrutinised the top 133 most-viewed TikTok videos that provided informational content about autism. They carefully categorised each piece of content into one of three categories: accurate, inaccurate, or overgeneralised.


To make this determination, two independent coders rigorously evaluated the content, scrutinising its alignment with established scientific knowledge about autism. A video was designated as ‘inaccurate’ only when it patently contradicted the scientific understanding of autism. In contrast, ‘overgeneralisation’ pertained to instances where individuals incorrectly implied that their personal experiences applied universally across the autistic spectrum, neglecting to represent the diverse manifestations within the autistic population.


The authors found that only 27% of the most-viewed videos were accurate, with 32% being overgeneralised, and a troubling 41% categorically inaccurate. Equally significant was the absence of significant disparities in engagement between videos that were accurate and those that were inaccurate or overgeneralised. This perhaps suggests that misleading or overly simplified content on autism can accumulate as much attention as precise information, potentially perpetuating misconceptions.


According to the researchers, videos created by healthcare professionals were found to be the most likely to contain accurate and scientifically sound information. This finding perhaps underscores the pivotal role that healthcare providers and professionals can play in disseminating reliable information amidst the deluge of misinformation on social media.


I am sharing this study not because I necessarily endorse its findings, but rather to emphasise the importance of maintaining vigilance when evaluating purported expert opinions on social media.


More about the study can be found here:

Never give up – inclusive clothing for all – Dragons’ Den: the Intellectual Property blog

Never give up – inclusive clothing for all – Dragons’ Den: the Intellectual Property blog

Never give up – inclusive clothing for all


When we first met entrepreneur Ben Pearson, he was keen to tell us how registering the intellectual property (IP) in his plus-size clothing company, Big Clothing 4 U, helped him protect and grow his business.

In 2020, Ben launched his own trade marked brand called ‘Uptheir Clothing’. Self-starter Ben, managed to bag a perfect fit when he appeared on the Dragons’ Den show in Series 20 Episode 2, with Touker Suleyman offering 150k for 35% of his business.

A fashion entrepreneur, Ben speaks openly about how he has embraced his autism and difficult past. He entered Dragons’ Den as an entrepreneur, determined to motivate others and show that there are no barriers to success.


From the start, Ben’s success story was nothing short of remarkable. His tenacity and determination won him admirers, with Steven Bartlett calling his pitch “one of the best he’s seen since being in the Den”.

Having watched Ben’s performance, his pitch to the Dragons was compelling and inspirational, telling them:

Having autism, it takes a lot of guts to be here, but I’d like to inspire others and show them where there’s a will, there’s a way, and we should not be held back from these slightly different ways of thinking.


We caught up with Ben several months after his success in the Den to find out more about his story.

Ben, how did your journey begin and what was your inspiration?

I have always been very business driven, but the inspiration comes from when I was 30 stone and couldn’t find clothes. When looking on the high street I found they just didn’t cater for anyone like me, never mind fashionable.

I was inspired by fashion and noticed a gap in the market. I wanted to do something about it and make fashion more inclusive and better for bigger men like me.

I started the business from my bedroom, where I sold clothes on eBay and Amazon.

Now, having trade marked ‘Uptheir’ as a brand name, more than 90% of Ben’s products are ‘own brand’. This means more favourable margins by not having to pay other brands for use of their brand name.

Giving an insight into his personal life, Ben told us he was diagnosed with autism from a young age and spent the majority of his life in social care, young offenders’ institutions and homeless.

Speaking of his autism, his advice for others with similar challenges was loud and clear:

“Never give up, don’t let anyone stand in your way”.

What impact has the Dragons’ Den experience had on your business? 

It was quite overwhelming, and I didn’t expect the engagement that we got. The BBC said to me it was one of the highest rating episodes they have had, and it’s still being watched on BBC iPlayer. Within hours of the show being broadcast, the hits on the Big Clothing 4 U website were up by almost 5,000 percent.

I think one of the things that seems to resonate with people is how genuine I was about wanting to make a difference. When it comes to business, we retail up to 8XL so I feel we have a unique selling point because we produce exactly to our customers’ requirements.

When appearing on Dragons’ Den, Steven praised you for successfully securing Harvey Price as a brand ambassador. Can you tell me how that happened?

I’ve got this connection with Harvey as we’ve both got autism. His mum Katie could relate to me, and from a parent’s perspective, she found it really frustrating trying to find clothes for Harvey.

The Uptheir clothing website also features a Harvey Price collection that makes a difference and raises awareness for Harvey’s Law, which makes it illegal to troll or abuse others online.


What advice would you give to businesses on how to make the most of their intellectual property?

The trade mark for our clothing line, Uptheir, has been registered with the IPO since April 2018.

Filing for a trade mark was the first thing we did as soon as we got the brand name. I do believe that IP is essential to any brand. A trade mark gives you name recognition and protects you from brand infringement.


Finally, my best advice would be to speak to a professional attorney. I’ve used a few and found they are able to carry out all the correct checks on my behalf.


Author: Lauren Russell