Anna Kennedy Online – Autism Awareness Charity
Autism With Attitude – Hillingdon Manor pupils busy preparing for big test

Autism With Attitude – Hillingdon Manor pupils busy preparing for big test

AUTISM with Attitude, the street dance group from Hillingdon Manor School, are off on a European adventure next month. The school made history last July when they qualified as the first special needs dance team to reach the finals of the United Dance Organisations Championships. Now, they are preparing to compete in the next stage of the competition, the European Championships in Kalkar, Germany, from May 11-13.

This Friday (27) April 2018, on Autism Dance Day, they will be refining their moves and joining other young people with autism across the UK to raise awareness of autism.

Dance teacher Jonathan Baron founded Autism with Attitude in 2013 after students were offered the opportunity to perform in Autism’s Got Talent, a show also set up by Anna Kennedy.

In preparation for their flight, Jonathan recently took the students to Heathrow to perform a flash mob dance. It marked World Autism Awareness Week  and enabled the students to familiarise themselves with the airport.

Anna Kennedy Online has been working with Heathrow airport to raise autism awareness and the street dance crew performed at every terminal.

Jonathon said “Not only are these talented students making history in the world of dance, they are really challenging themselves, conquering new feelings and environments, representing the UK acting as role models to young people with autism nationwide.”

Hillingdon Manor School provides specialist education and support to pupils with autism aged three to 19. This was set up by Anna Kennedy in 1999, when Anna’s two sons, Patrick, 27 and Angelo, 24, were both diagnosed with autistic spectrum conditions as young children. The severity of their conditions meant that they were turned away from local mainstream schools, as they couldn’t cater for their individual needs. Both boys were finally offered just five hours of home tuition per week.

Anna decided something had to be done for her boys, and with the help of her husband , she took on the challenge of setting up a school. They relentlessly fund raised and re-mortgaged their home to raise funds, and in 1999 Hillingdon Manor School finally opened its doors. Starting out with 19 pupils the school now teaches 175, and is the largest school of its kind for children on the autism spectrum.

Autism With Attitude Flashmob

Autism With Attitude

Autism with Attitude is a street dance crew from Hillingdon Manor School in Uxbridge, a school Anna Kennedy OBE is founder because of her two sons were at home without school for three years. The SEN dance crew made history when they qualified as the first special needs dance team to qualify for the United Dance Organisations (UDO) World Championships in Glasgow 24-27th August 2017 and the UDO European Championships in Kalkar in Germany in May 2018.

Autism with Attitude were created because of Autism’s Got Talent .They performed for the first time five years ago after Anna Kennedy invited them to take part in her show. Hillingdon Manor School is delighted with its success and staff are helping them both to hone their dance skills and to prepare for their role as ambassadors, showing what people with autism can achieve. Now Autism with Attitude is all set to represent the UK at this forthcoming international event.

Many of the young people have developed their skills since attending Hillingdon Manor and probably would not have had the chance to enter a dance competition if they had been at a different school. Their teacher Jonathan Baron said: ‘The SEN dance world is currently very small and in fact they were the first dance team with special needs to take part in the event.’

The school has found that children with autism respond well to the structure and discipline of dance and it can help children who struggle with other forms of communication to express themselves. Students are expected to work hard and the lessons are physically demanding building muscle memory, balance, body awareness, coordination and spatial awareness.

The secret of their success, according to Jonathan Baron, is hard work, discipline, preparation and practice. Autism with Attitude had performed in shows and made videos so there was no doubt about their talent or commitment but he needed to be sure that they could manage a competition in unfamiliar surroundings. He need not have worried. With support from the management and staff at the Manor in the run up to the competition, they took it all in their stride.

‘It is a dream come true for me,’ said Jonathan. ‘As a dancer myself I’ve obviously done competitions but it’s quite emotional taking a group of young people with autism into this arena. We keep setting them fresh challenges and now they are taking the mainstream world by storm. This is just huge; they are making history, acting as envoys for all those with special needs around the world.

Anna has been working with Heathrow airport to raise autism awareness and the street dance crew are performing a flash mob at every terminal on Tuesday for Autism Awareness Week. Anna has also arranged for the Autism Reality Experience to be at each terminal alongside the Flash mob so that passengers and staff can experience a 3 minute experience if what it could be like to be autistic and experience sensory difficulties.

This is a fantastic opportunity for Autism with Attitude and Anna and her team will be following the crew and chatting to passengers and staff about autism.

Autism with Attitude

Autism with Attitude

Autism with Attitude, AGT Performers
The first special needs team in the world to qualify and compete at the UDO European Championships 2018

How amazing are ‘Autism with Attitude’ so proud of these performers first appeared on Autism’s got Talent five years ago and every year since then.

How they have grown as performers and in confidence and now off to Germany in May for the European Championships making history as the first group all diagnosed on the autism spectrum and taught by Jonathan Baron our Street dance teacher at Hillingdon Manor School whoop!

Anna Kennedy OBE

Autism Dance Day – April 2018

Autism Dance Day – April 2018

Autism Dance Day – April 2018

Experts agree that dance helps children with an autism spectrum condition develop better, and it can also help them connect more with others.

For the 7th year running on the last Friday in April it is once again Autism Dance Day on April !!! Strike a pose in your office, warehouse, school, college, lounge at home – wherever the mood takes you and post on Facebook, Twitter etc The last few years have been soooo much fun raising awareness on #autismdanceday Come on everyone – join in.

Last year some of the autism groups created sponsored dance events and got their groove on to raise money for their local autism charity or our very own Anna Kennedy Online. This year we organising a zumbathon on 28th April.

Dance to the Music

Dance to the Music

Yesterday one of Charity Autism Ambassadors was asked to review the show’ Dance to the Music’ at Towngate Theatre for Gateway Radio Station in Basildon. I arranged for Aston to meet the cast. Please see his review.

Yesterday one of our UK Autism Charity Ambassadors Aston Avery who is a huge fan of BBC Strictly was at the ‘Dance to the Music Tour’ with my Peoples Strictly dance partner Robin Windsor , Kristina Rihanoff and Chris Maloney who was one of the performers singing on the show.

Aston was kindly invited to meet the cast which was the cherry on top of the cake for Aston. Aston shares his thoughts :

The choreography by Kristina was absolutely amazing which included the lifts that Jonathan & Oksana showcased during the famous “Purple Rain” number.

The Rumba which Robin & Kristina performed was amazing to see how they kept eye contact with each other and how they kept the lines and and fabulous shaping from various positions as well as the holds was mesmerising.

What I  didn’t expect to see was Christopher Maloney showing off his dance moves since we are used to hearing him sing which was a massive thumbs up.

The costumes were to die for… Being a Strictly Come Dancing fan I normally would sometimes see standard materials used in the costumes, but the costumes in this show made huge sense in a way that it kept in format of the decades that they were performing which made the musicality very very strong throughout.

The musicality side of it all was brilliant in more ways than one. Each song and music numbers made very good sense to when it was fitted in each decade in question at the given points.

What was not expected was to see a bit of hip-hop routine from a huge talented cast of dancers. What was fabulous was music that people of all ages would grow up with and also take inspiration one which includes the amazing singers that have graced all of our generations and time as well.

The lighting and staging for each routines/numbers was absolutely spot on in setting where the dancers and singers should be a various points of the routines/numbers.

The second half of the show there was a lovely warm reaction from the audience and I felt I wanted to be part of the show since I am a huge Strictly Fan.

That just leaves me with one question would I want to see the show again???? My answer would be….. A categorical yes I would go and see the show again and I would also recommend it to everyone that likes dancing as well as music shared from the decades.

On a personal note I will be dancing again with my Strictly Partner Robin Windsor later on in the year more news to follow soon……..

Anna Kennedy OBE 


‘Autism with Attitude’ make Dance History!

‘Autism with Attitude’ make Dance History!

Autisms Got Talent performers ‘Autism with Attitude‘ dance team have recently competed in their first competition at the South East street dance championships.

It was their first competition and given that the SEN dance world is currently not very widespread, they were the first dance team with special needs to take part in the event. Not only that, their performance placed them 3rd overall in their category.

They are making history by being the first special needs team to ever place in the top 3 at the event. Pupils are from Hillingdon Manor School which was set up by Anna Kennedy OBE in 1999 and 2 years ago appeared on Comic Relief first Peoples Strictly in 2015.

Jonathon Baron the schools full time Streetdance teacher has been working at the school for 5 years and created Autism with Attitude who.perform every year at Autisms got Talent created by Anna Kennedy and known as Simon Cowell of the autism world.

Because the SEN streetdance crew were placed in the top 3 of their category they have qualified for the following event.

They have qualified to compete at the European championships next year in Germany and have the opportunity to represent the UK on an international platform.

Anna Kennedy OBE the founder of Autisms Got Talent told us “Just even saying that sentence is so monumental that they have managed to achieve this for themselves, the impact that they have had on the mainstream world by achieving all of this is just huge and they literally making history acting as ambassadors for all those with special needs around the country.”

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