Anna Kennedy Online – Autism Awareness Charity
World Autism Day – Is there racism in SEND?

World Autism Day – Is there racism in SEND?

World Autism Day – Is there racism in SEND?

The U21 Autism Research Network talk to Mala Thapar our Charity Champion speaks about this important controversial topic!

Mala Thapar is one of the charity champions at AKO.

On World Autism Week she was invited as a panellist to “Let’s Talk About Autism: Diversity and Inclusion” hosted by U21 Autism Research Network, which is part of the Birmingham autism research consultancy committee. Mala is also part of this team, where together with the chair and a range of other autistic experts give advice to researchers on how to conduct their studies in an autism friendly way.

During this event, where over two hundred people attended Mala shared about being a British born Asian and her experience with racism over decades. She publicised “I sense racism immediately you can “see it” and disclosed how she was bullied at school and that not much had really changed.

Then she discussed her own personal lived-in experiences as a Mum of two Autistic boys, hoping that stigmatisation and society would have changed decades later but they had not for her eldest son who is age 16 had been a victim of racism at school, whereas her youngest son had never experienced racism within his school.

The chair asked her thoughts on the Race report which had been disclosed to the public earlier that day.  Mala commented “Where in today’s published report was there any reference to differences within SEND and racial disparities? by saying nothing speaks volumes”. She continued to tackle the topic of inequality in disability where racism plays a key part and there were public reports written that clearly reflect of the disparities, yet nothing is ever done about it.

Is there racism in SEND

The panel and audience were in full agreement and she continued: “Support across public domains such as education, health, social and care practices could effectively reduce prejudice between the public and people with ASD over time. But how much time? Councils must have regard to a set of principles with the key goal being the best possible educational and other outcomes.

Being branded as a “difficult parent” and the access to support prohibits the effect of working together. “Ethnic communities are often referred to “hard to reach” but we are only hard to reach if you have not been looking for us”, referred to the set of principles set by the councils which is not being delivered and the disparities which leads to systemic racism set by their own conduct.

BLM was discussed and when asked about media coverage the panellist and audience listened with great interest on the documentaries aired, BBC’s “Small Axe” short film on Education which was based on a true-life story of 1971. Plus, the BBC’s “Black Power Movement”. Mala shared that after watching both that “not much has really changed in her opinion. Except when you have a disability and encompassed with ethnicity it is two protected characteristics that leads to two methods of targeting an individual in my experience”.

The next topic was based on barriers and conveyed how she contacted Anna in 2011 after watching her on TV. Anna visited the mainstream school where both her sons attended at that time. Anna raised Autism awareness, which inspired her after being supressed about keeping her son’s diagnosis a secret and feeling vulnerable for many years.

After meeting Anna and feeling strengthened after listening to Anna speak so passionately about her own two sons, which in turn empowered Mala and gave her a voice and courage to stand up to the community, which stopped the bullying for her son. Life was never the same again afterwards and thereafter joined the AKO team as a charity champion, which changed her life completely.

The topic of barriers continued as Mala voiced experiences of being subjected to five tribunals, the first one in 2014, the same year as the SEND reforms which was not complied with; the placement was then given and from 2015 to 2018 her son flourished.

The situation changed drastically in 2018 and had to face three more tribunals since June 2020 just to fight for her son’s rightful education. Mala expressed how unjust and prevalent institutional racism had arisen with unnecessary obstacles being placed to hinder her son’s legal right to equal education prejudicially.

Final thoughts were given on being treated with respect and dignity equally. How each CYP should be centre of focus, training to be enhanced. Joined up services without barriers to inclusion and red tape hindering access entitlements even down to a Blue Badge which are meant to be provided by the service providers.

Mala is so incredibly grateful for the opportunity from the U21 Autism Research Network.  A huge thank you to the team and the organisers of thus and also where she was encouraged to share her opinions about experiences freely without critique and looks forward to the next event.

Mala Thapar

Please watch the video below which has the full coverage of discussions and as to how discrimination exists, with the effect to lived-in experiences, right the way through to research.

Off camera Mala had already disclosed her views with close friends on BLM and the impact of the last twelve months of heightened media coverage that shook the world and brought out the truth in her own life and to her eldest son.

The protests, the reactions of people and communities, encompassed with obvious segregation and people’s true colours coming out and finding out who was whom was indeed an eye opener or at least lifted the veil to what was clearly obvious all along.

A close friend of her had since shared on how she was treated differently after her surname had changed after marriage, how she had experienced contrasts to being treated differently to when she used her maiden name.

Mala concluded “Race is a sensitive topic when the majority are too scared to speak out in case of being called racist. I have had my fair share of being called all sorts. Whilst the world had changed but for the better with the topic of racism highlighted systemic racism that needs to be spoken about, with encouragement without judgment”.

There are further details on the campaign “Autism and Cultural Issues” click here for details.

Anna’s guest today on World Autism Day 2021 at Men’s Radio is Ethan Khumzy our Charity Ambassador

Anna’s guest today on World Autism Day 2021 at Men’s Radio is Ethan Khumzy our Charity Ambassador

Anna’s guest today on World Autism Day 2021 at Men’s Radio
is Ethan Khumzy our Charity Ambassador

Ethan Khumzy Charity Ambassador will join Anna on www.mensradiostation.com at 12noon live talking about Ethan’s experience during lockdown.
Ethan has created a Rap especially for this day.

The Odd One Out (Autism Awareness) / Prod by me / Unable. Lyrics:

Can’t find myself in distress again the same way that my jeans would be ripped, there wouldn’t be days where I wouldn’t be okay, whys that cause I’m autistic,.

A reason why I’m doing music, the same reason why I’m still here and doing it, I’m grateful for how far people like us came in the world being autistic.

There’s a reason I’m raising awareness here, shout out to Anna Kennedy, We’re still hungry for change, but they think that’s just the game like Katniss Everdeen, Some of us would not be able to go outside cos we might not know other people, but I find it good and I find it great that we have supportive people.

Ill live and perish for good, it’s okay to be different is the message I push, it’s okay to be you is the message I push, just to state that everyone feels good, It’s ok to be you it’s okay to be unique, it’s okay for you to think differently, this is more than a disability, it’s a superpower that runs in our genes, no DNA.

Yet people look at this subject in a different way, and we’re still fighting for the positive change, and that’s to make sure that we’re safe, but the struggles within us are never going away, Yet people look at this subject in a different way, and we’re still fighting for the positive change, and that’s to make sure that we’re safe, but the struggles within us are never going away.

How many people did we try to avoid and how many crowds made so much noise, there is also autistic girls and not just autistic boys, Some of us would not have a voice, and others are still finding their voices, to express themselves in a way to block all of these unwanted noises,

Life ain’t sunshine and rainbows, it will bring thunder and lightning, it will bring clouds and rainfall, but we are blessed for the helpful guidance, From everyone around us, but there’s others who tried to doubt us, but let’s get away from those type of people that wanted to doubt us.

Vulnerability is not an option, and that’s something that cannot be mocked, that’s for the bullies to hear, you need to know that life is a lot, ‘Give us a break’ like the campaign, so that everyone feels okay, give us a break like the campaign, so that everyone feels okay, It’s okay to be different, that’s the message I’m pushing, just so you know we can do it, knowing that we can put our minds to it, Even though life would treat us differently at times, we still managed to get through it.

Please watch and listen to Ethan’s video below:

World Autism Day – An inspiring song created by our Ambassador Ethan Khumalo

World Autism Day – An inspiring song created by our Ambassador Ethan Khumalo

World Autism Day

An inspiring song created by our Ambassador – Ethan Khumalo

Ethan Khumalo is eighteen years of age and an autistic dancer and lyricist that performs Grime/Rap music. His aim is to inspire other people that are autistic and also have mental health issues and wants to inspire the talent within them and they can use it, and to find confidence in themselves to showcase it.

Ethan has been dancing for 11 years and then started rapping. Anna Kennedy and Ethan first crossed paths in 2016 where he performed for the first time, at Autism’s Got Talent. Since then, more opportunities arouse.

In 2017 he won a scholarship to train with Pineapple Performing Arts School. Ethan shared:

“Fast forward to now, I am now an ambassador for Anna Kennedy Online. If you asked me how it feels to be an ambassador, l would say it feels humbling to be part of the AKO family. I never expected this honour and privilege. Thank you Anna for creating a platform for people like us, to showcase us talented individuals, to speak for the voiceless.

Anna and the team are a role model to the SEND community, whatever she speaks on, needs to be heard left, right and centre, most people can relate, we just need more to hear us out, which is why we’re raising awareness, people are getting the message which is a good thing.

What I hope to bring to the AKO charity, is to raise further awareness and acceptance in the community and promote the charity as well. I will be doing more rapping and dancing and articles to articulate my thoughts on what happens in life (Black Lives Matter, mental health, autism of course, music, environmental events/incidents). To now be a part of the AKO is unexpected, but definitely worthwhile. l am proper happy that I am an AKO ambassador, I think this is one of my BEST moments; to DATE. Anna has shown me a endless amount of love and support in what I do ever since we met. Thank you Anna for this moment, it wouldn’t have been possible without you, and also for showing me support each and every single time.”

The Odd One Out (Autism Awareness) Prod by me / Unable / Lyrics:

Can’t find myself in distress again the same way that my jeans would be ripped, there wouldn’t be days where I wouldn’t be okay, whys that cause I’m autistic, a reason why I’m doing music, the same reason why I’m still here and doing it, I’m grateful for how far people like us came in the world being autistic,

There’s a reason I’m raising awareness here, shout out to Anna Kennedy, we’re still hungry for change, but they think that’s just the game like Katniss Everdeen, some of us would not be able to go outside cos we might not know other people, but I find it good and I find it great that we have supportive people.

I’ll live and perish for good, it’s okay to be different is the message I push, it’s okay to be you is the message I push, just to state that everyone feels good, it’s ok to be you it’s okay to be unique, it’s okay for you to think differently, this is more than a disability, it’s a superpower that runs in our genes, no DNA, Yet people look at this subject in a different way, and we’re still fighting for the positive change, and that’s to make sure that we’re safe, but the struggles within us are never going away.

Yet people look at this subject in a different way, and we’re still fighting for the positive change, and that’s to make sure that we’re safe, but the struggles within us are never going away, How many people did we try to avoid and how many crowds made so much noise, there is also autistic girls and not just autistic boys, some of us would not have a voice, and others are still finding their voices, to express themselves in a way to block all of these unwanted noises.

Life ain’t sunshine and rainbows, it will bring thunder and lightning, it will bring clouds and rainfall, but we are blessed for the helpful guidance, from everyone around us, but there’s others who tried to doubt us, but let’s get away from those type of people that wanted to doubt us.

Vulnerability is not an option, and that’s something that cannot be mocked, that’s for the bullies to hear, you need to know that life is a lot, give us a break like the campaign, so that everyone feels okay, give us a break like the campaign, so that everyone feels okay.

It’s okay to be different, that’s the message I’m pushing, just so you know we can do it, knowing that we can put our minds to it, even though life would treat us differently at times, we still managed to get through it.

Please watch and listen Ethan’s video below:

Anna’s guests this week at Women’s Radio – Neeraj Sharma from Daisy Chain

Anna’s guests this week at Women’s Radio – Neeraj Sharma from Daisy Chain

 ‘All things Autism’ Anna’s guests this week at Women’s Radio was Neeraj Sharma from Daisy Chain

Anna Kennedy’s guests this week on Women’s Radio Station was Neeraj Sharma from Daisy Chain. ‘All things Autism and life in Lockdown’ will be aired at 1pm and 1am every day this week.  Please see www.womensradiostation.com

​This is Neeraj’s story: Neeraj, who has trained as a solicitor and spent the last seven years at the helm of the Citizens Advice Bureau in Darlington, has been able to bring his skills, knowledge and talents to Daisy Chain.

Neeraj had a major impact on Citizens Advice Darlington bringing in sources of revenue and establishing relationships with the community, funders and stakeholders. He introduced a range of new services including the introduction of asocial isolation programme for older people as well as a youth employability programme for those aged 16 to 30.

Neeraj Sharma

Neeraj said: ‘My work has centred on ensuring that struggling families and individuals are supported to overcome key developmental barriers through access to free advice, information, advocacy and training. It is important that families and individuals access all the support they are entitled to so they can have the best possible life outcomes.

Up until now, my work has been with people who have been deprived of the support they need and have reached crisis point. I seek to harness the skills that I have acquired working in a rights based arena and redeploy these to field of autism support services provided by Daisy Chain.

‘The Daisy Chain day centre, farm and outdoor activity spaces provide a vital safe haven and productive platform for both children and adults. I am delighted to be tasked with the opportunity to expand upon the beneficial and vital autism based support services across the Tees Valley.’

About Daisy Chain

Daisy Chain Project’s mission is to improve the lives of families affected by autism across the Tees Valley and surrounding areas.

Daisy Chain is a 5.5 acre site:

  1. Day & Learning Centre – state of the art sensory equipment
  2. Therapeutic Farm
  3. Sensory Play Gardens
  4. Polytunnel and Eco-environmental growth areas for Adults with Autism

We provide:

  1. Respite
  2. Activity Clubs
  3. Independent Living Skills Training & Employability Scheme
  4. Schools placement programme in accordance with Schools across the Tees Valley
  5. Training and support programmes for Families,
  6. Accredited training for Schools, Employers, Businesses

Annually, we offer

  1. Loss of routine
  2. Sensory Issues (such as sensory overload within the home….panic buying leading to loss of food types where those individual not being able to access food which meets their sensory needs)
  3. Extreme loneliness and Isolation
Daisy chain sensory
‘The Daisy Chain day centre, farm and outdoor activity spaces provide a vital safe haven and productive platform for both children and adults. I am delighted to be tasked with the opportunity to expand upon the beneficial and vital autism based support services across the Tees Valley.’
Daisy Chain

More About Daisy Chain

In response to National lockdown we launched a support line for families and Young Period.  To date we have supported over 1800 calls and rising.

Callers can access the support line by calling:  The telephone support service is on freephone number 0800 031 5445

Our telephone and virtual support service offers individuals and those around them access to a specialist team who provide signposting, bespoke visual resources, personalised family support and bespoke strategies and interventions, alongside being a listening service.

This support is offered over the phone and by video-conference, giving families access to the advice and information that they would otherwise be missing out on at this time, and is in response to the increased demand identified during and following the first lockdown.

As a charity we have sustained mammoth £400,000 financial losses due to closure of our Superstore on Protract Lane, Cessation of our Training and Fundraising Income.

Coming out of lockdown has not been a straightforward proposition, we have seen an increase in acute support needs at a time when we are seeing a loss of 20% of our income.  Combined with social distancing measures logistically we have had to make many changes in order to operate.

Daisychainstore.co.uk   – “Launched”

Following the significant and detrimental financial impact of the first national lockdown earlier in 2020 which led to the closure of the charity’s superstore which sells high-quality donated items including clothing, furniture and household goods we launched a new initiative.   Daisy Chain Store, an online shop selling high-end clothing giving customers nationally the opportunity to grab a bargain while helping us recoup lost funds caused by the pandemic.

The online fashion platform for designer and vintage items features brands such as Valentino, Dior and Versace, and is an expansion of our online offer which also includes a presence on Depop and eBay in addition to our social media accounts.

Fundraising – “Win a Wedding”

As part of our fight back campaign we have launched a fundraising initiative:

We’re offering couples the opportunity to win a complete wedding package in return for raising £500 for Daisy Chain, vital income to allow us to continue supporting some of the most vulnerable people in the North East.

We’re hoping it will give a couple who may not otherwise be able to tie the knot the opportunity to do so, and as we know so many people’s weddings have been impacted this year, we’ve opened it up to people who have been married since 23rd March to give them the opportunity to have the ‘do’ that they have missed out on due to lockdown and restrictions.

You can find out more about the competition here: www.daisychainproject.co.uk/win-a-wedding

Daisy Chain Store

Following the significant and detrimental financial impact of the first national lockdown earlier in 2020 which led to the closure of the charity’s superstore which sells high-quality donated items including clothing, furniture and household goods we launched a new initiative.

Daisy Chain Store, an online shop selling high-end clothing giving customers nationally the opportunity to grab a bargain while helping us recoup lost funds caused by the pandemic.

The online fashion platform for designer and vintage items features brands such as Valentino, Dior and Versace, and is an expansion of our online offer which also includes a presence on Depop and eBay in addition to our social media accounts.

Click here for the website   

Fundraising – “Win a Wedding” 

As part of our fight back campaign we have launched a fundraising initiative:

We’re offering couples the opportunity to win a complete wedding package in return for raising £500 for Daisy Chain, vital income to allow us to continue supporting some of the most vulnerable people in the North East.

We’re hoping it will give a couple who may not otherwise be able to tie the knot the opportunity to do so, and as we know so many people’s weddings have been impacted this year, we’ve opened it up to people who have been married since 23rd March to give them the opportunity to have the ‘do’ that they have missed out on due to lockdown and restrictions.

You can find out more about the competition: Click here for details

Ethan Khumzy: Melanin Part 2

Ethan Khumzy: Melanin Part 2

Ethan Khumzy: Melanin Part 2

One of our Autism’s got Talent Performers and Pineapple Performing Arts Charity Scholarship winners Ethan Khumzy shared:

‘This piece of rap I’ve written is called ‘Melanin – this is Part 2’.

Many more years, we’re still screaming out their names, instead we’re still not finding change, if you was in our position, you’d be feeling our pain, you’re either Locked in the cage or you’d get called names,

You tend to look at us like we’re moving the same, thinking we’re some thugs, just because of our race, violations to my race is what I cannot take, every day, every night, we never get a break,

My colour of my skin is not a weapon in your eyes, just cause you see how my people are like, it’s the way that they see us, there’s no way out of this, on top of that, there’s no point even doubting it,

The hate they give, is the hate they’ve been kept with, that’s why we’re not resting, we’ll keep spreading out the message, we want Justice and also acceptance,

I’m a young black king, not a person that is hard work, you tend to hate when we’re putting in the hard work, all of us screaming out we just want acceptance, karma will be served to you, that’ll be your lesson, Black lives matter, we’re never treated equally, judging us harshly, because of our scenery, because of what we do, we’re locked up easily, if you’re a racist then please don’t speak to me,

I don’t wanna get stopped, I don’t wanna get locked, does this look like that I came from the block? No way, no time to be beefing opps, cos I’m not that guy that you see, end of, RIP to the ones of the lives that are lost, everyday I had conversations with God, Ive asking the man, when can it all stop, he replied I don’t know I guess it will not,

I can’t breathe were the words that George said, these words never got up to your head, to even acknowledge how you’re treating my people, don’t ever try calling my people evil, really you’re the ones acting evil towards us, we’ll, the karma will be sent back towards you, I got my brothers like I’m working for Warner, all racists should be pushed back like Walker,

See no evil, hear no evil, but they wanna speak the evil to my people, every year, every day, we face segregation, how the media portrays us, I strongly hate it, I’m looked at as a villain, but you’re looked like as a villain too, people, we bleed the same, that’s the living proof, how were living everyday, we found it the hardest, if you don’t sympathise with us, then you’re heartless.

Ethan Khumalo

Importance Of Role Models In My Life – by Ethan Khumalo

Importance Of Role Models In My Life – by Ethan Khumalo

 Importance Of Role Models In My Life – by Ethan Khumalo

Life isn’t all that bad if you have the right role models with you. I see other black men doing well, they’re not thugs, or bad people, they inspire me to do great, ranging from my dance mentors, to having black teachers as well, and also we are seeing each other do well, I see Ashley Banjo doing well, I see Omar doing well, I see Marlon doing well, they are my role models inspiring me to do what I love doing… DANCE!

It’s not just my dance mentors I look up to, giving me inspiration that I love being different, there are black politicians doing well, Obama. Black musicians doing well (Sampha, Stormzy, Wretch 32, J Cole), actors (Idris Elba, Chadwick Boseman, John Boyega), even school teachers, chefs and comedians.

Take it back to June, when the BLM protests were around, John Boyega gave a powerful speech showing that we as black people are beautiful, excellent, have always mattered, and has also encouraged black men to take care of black women, mentioning that ‘black women are our hearts’ and ‘black men being the pillars of the family’. And we are!

Love yourself for who you are!

Accessibility
Culture