Anna Kennedy Online – Autism Awareness Charity
Our Ambassador Thomas Henley supports our Give Us A Break campaign

Our Ambassador Thomas Henley supports our Give Us A Break campaign

Our Ambassador Thomas Henley speaks about #AutiePower in support of our Give Us A Break campaign

Our Ambassador Thomas Henley is supporting our Give Us A Break campaign

There have been some horrific cases in the media and we as a Charity continue to campaign to raise awareness with this growing concern exacerbated further by mate crime, cyber bullying, which has led to some tragic outcomes.

If you would like to spread the word of our Give Us A Break campaign please click here to download the poster print off and please take a photograph of yourself and email it to us, so we can share your support. Please share and let us make a change – together we are stronger!

Click here for more details

Tom’s idea to launch this week and carry on after this week since Bullying happens all year round:-

It’s World Anti-Bullying week… let’s talk about AUTISM ?

To show your support for autism awareness and inclusion, we invite you to join the ‘Autie Power’ movement!

Posts will be shared and highlighted on our social media, allowing you to share your experience with bullying and make a positive change in society!

How to make sure your story gets seen ? :-

 * Post a picture on your social media… striking your best power pose or doing something you love! ??

 * Use the #autiepower hashtag ♾

 * Tag 5 friends to get this ball rolling ⚽️

Hopefully with enough traction, this will allow the extremely high rates of bullying, mental health issues, and social isolation in the autistic community to get noticed by the mainstream media!

Power to you all and let’s make a positive impact?

#autiepower

Please watch the podcast as well as the YouTube version below

Special feature for Give Us A Break campaign 2020 supported by Keith McKenzie

Special feature for Give Us A Break campaign 2020 supported by Keith McKenzie

Special feature for Give Us A Break campaign 2020 supported by Keith McKenzie Project Director of Plus Value Awareness

About The Plus Value Awareness

The Plus Value Awareness Initiative along with Differences Originals supports the annual events the Anti-bullying week and Give Us A Break campaign spreading greater knowledge of how bullying affecting hidden differences. This feature contains projects, information and other content against bullying towards hidden differences. This special feature will be online throughout November. Click here to view this

Plus Value Awareness along with (Differences Originals) supports a very important awareness campaign against bullying towards individuals living with the autistic spectrum. Created by Keith McKenzie of Plus Value Awareness has developed a family series of specially created visual designs.

Plus Value poster

This is part of this awareness initiatives to support the November event “Give Us A Break” . The development of the designs is an abstract interpretation which embraces the campaign’s main message “say no to bullying”.

It features a series of shapes within a connected circle which encourages people to spread the word and include pictorial symbols to strengthen the points that any type of bullying towards autism or any other logical difficulties is unacceptable and we must stop it at any opportunity.

A total of three has been developed using different variations to the purple colours which are the campaign’s main colour palette. These designs are mainly developed for social media during anti-bullying week.

Visual design gallery: Click here to discover the image gallery where you are invited to view, share and spread the word on social media & online.

Keith shared:

Bullying can occur anywhere from accessing education through to getting around, using transport, at places, open spaces and even online via social media. In a society that is very judgemental and demanding, it is not an excuse to wrongly single out anyone with autism.

Also, the kind of difficulties an autistic person lives with should not be used to any form of bullying, intimidation, physical abuse or any sort of hatred. We must change attitudes and to trivialise and pain and the hurt when an autistic person is bullied. This means moving away from outdated suggestions and responses such as “ignore it”, “walk away” and “rise above it”. These examples guidance will not stop or prevent bullying.

So instead, take the matter seriously and take action. This is essential to enable an autistic person to move forward positively. Bullying can also occur towards autistic adults beyond the age of 25 can and can cause damaging effects in later stages of life.

So everyone has a responsibility to take action against all types of bullying and hatred. This includes speaking out, challenging and shaming the offender, providing support including change of attitudes and more importantly listen better without dismissive judgements.

Communities need to do their bit as well to combat bullying. This includes being more supportive and to make their environments more inclusive. An important reminder for everyone, if we ignore the bullying and autistic faces it can lead to hate crime and harm many life opportunities. So everybody must do their part to take action against bullying.

There are some personal reasons why I have this. Because I’m black with Asperger Syndrome I have to face escalating amount of bullying, physical abuse, assaults and hatred in the past three years in Birmingham (including some Racism). Despite I have taken many actions this year to various public officials, they have not taken my experiences seriously and have silenced my voice to take action any further.

So I will do anything I can to speak up against any form of bullying and hatred towards autism along with other similar neurological difficulties. Even though I’m in the late forties I can stress enough that bullying can happen to any age who lives with the Autism spectrum.

 
About Keith McKenzie
 
Keith was diagnosed Asperger Syndrome back in 1999 but have observed lack of ground-level representation of individuals with the autistic spectrum outside support environments and felt the awareness communications was too much focused on the medical aspects, parent viewpoints. 
 
For 20 years Keith has used his and others experience to change public perceptions not only within the autistic spectrum but also specific neurological difficulties like Dyslexia, ADHD, Dyspraxia along with phobia like social anxiety.
 
Click here to read more about Keith
Announcing our new charity Young Patrons!!

Announcing our new charity Young Patrons!!

We are so proud to announce our new young charity patrons!

Congratulations to our new Charity Patrons and welcome to the AKO Family !!! 

We are fortunate to have a diverse and talented group of Young Patrons who help to raise Autism Awareness and are passionate to change the perceptions on Autism raising awareness and we cannot do this alone and that is why our incredible Young Patrons are so important and fantastic role models. Find out more about about each of our young patrons below who are helping us spread the word who are passionate about helping with our mission…

OJ Bridges

OJ Bridges

​First of all I want to just say that I am so honoured to be a part of the patron team for Anna Kennedy Online it is such a great achievement and can now be a massive highlight to my life.

I feel so proud and will hold this young patron title with such pride and joy.

I’ve loved working with Anna at autism’s got talent and to now support the charity even further is beyond a dream, it is an amazing thing to happen!

I think what I can bring to AKO is that I can spread awareness of the charity through friend groups, social clubs, school and anywhere else I can really!

I think I can also bring a lot of motivation and empowerment as when I need to be there for people or need to speak about things. I am very passionate and motivational in what I say.

Josh Burgess

Josh Burgess

I’m amazed, I feel very proud to have been chosen to represent Anna Kennedy online.

I feel like its a great opportunity to give back to the charity that has helped and supported me, and my family.

I hope to give others like me that have autism along with other medical conditions, a voice and inspiration, that anything is possible no matter the challenges you face, if you have determination and the right support.

T’mya Bradshaw

T’mya Fyffe

T’mya shared that she feels so excited about being chosen to be one of the new young patrons for the charity and is looking forward to supporting Anna Kennedy Online to raise autism awareness and funding.

T’mya feels she can help change peoples view of autism and hopes to inspire other young people like herself to teach for their dreams.

Daisy Hutchinson

Daisy Hutchinson

Daisy shared: “I am over the moon in being chosen to be a patron for the Anna Kennedy charity.

Thank you so much for choosing me.

This will be a wonderful opportunity. I hope the charity benefits from my bubbly, enthusiastic and imaginative personality.

I will enjoy being part of this wonderful charity.

Logan Hull

Logan Hull

Thankyou so much I am flabbergasted to be chosen! I can’t wait to show people Autism can be a positive ability.

I’m looking forward to helping raise autism awareness

Callum Kirrage

Callum Kirrage

Callum shared: I am so happy and proud to be chosen to be a young patron for Anna Kennedy Online.

This charity has helped me a lot and given me lots of opportunities and helped me believe in myself more and and given me confidence, I want to help other people to understand that being different is ok and for people to stop judging and accept people for who they are and that you should not let people stop you from doing what you want to do!

Jack Azagury

Jack Azagury-Slattery

Jack’s Mum shared: Jack understands the importance of being kind to people and he can express a lot of empathy most of the times.

I told him that we were going to help your charity and help children and he gave me the biggest smile. He said “can I help the children with my drawings?” “I want to make them smile and make them happy”

Jack’s communication skills are good but limited, he can often engage well in a conversation but he does need guidance from us.

 Jack will often surprise us and can be very eloquent as well.

One thing we can say about Jack is that he is not shy, he loves talking to people, engaging with them with our help and during all the interviews he has done (radio or live), he has always managed to catch people’s attention, bring some humour and make people smile.

He is very honest and often people love that.

Announcing our Christmas Card competition winners 2020

Announcing our Christmas Card competition winners 2020

We’re delighted to announce our 2020 Christmas card design competition winners!!

Chris Rathbone
Over 18’s

Chris Rathbone age 30
2020 has been a tough year but it is time to celebrate as we are proud to announce our Christmas card competition winners!!

A huge congratulations to both these talented supporters Chris Rathbone and Natalie Sherriffs!!

We would like to thank you both for taking part as your support will help our charity continue to raise Autism Awareness.

Each of the winning designs will be included in each pack of assorted cards along with previous creations from the talented Patrick Steele-Bodger and our wonderful Ambassador Harvey Price – included in the designs below.

Natalie Sherriffs
Under 18

Natalie Sherriffs age 13
Natalie Sherriffs age 13
Chris Rathbone age 30
Bullying – an article by Mickey Mayhew

Bullying – an article by Mickey Mayhew

Bullying; been there, done that. I’ve had it all, and then some. I’ve been stuffed in a trash can, verbally abused, hit, had stones thrown at the window of our house and fireworks set off in the drive; I’ve been shoved from behind face-down into the snow and stabbed in the hand with a pencil; someone spat in my mouth and someone else – a horrendous home tutor – sniggered at the unusual gait my dyspraxia gave me.

Most of this stuff happened at what I’ve now come to consider the dreaded ‘Double R’ school set-up; specifically Raglan Road Junior School and then Ravensbourne School for Boys. But it was the 1980s, and harassing the living heck out of people with autism was pretty much a fashion-trend, along with deeley-bobbers and the Rubik Cube.

I’ve come a long way since then, regaining my education the long way around; I’ve got four degrees – or is it five, I lose count – and a doctorate as well as several published books, articles, awards, columns, etc etc. And I don’t think I could have done it without those bullies, pupils and teachers alike. In fact, I might even venture to say that I might have ended up being rather mundane if they hadn’t spurred me on with their spite.

This is all about the concept of taking something negative and positively reframing it, alongside the fact that basically I made a promise to that poor little boy – i.e. me – to make sure I got the education I deserved, basically the one that ended when I was permanently excluded from school aged just twelve, and labelled as ‘educationally backward’ to boot.

Now I don’t mean to imply that one needs to go through all those various trials in order to succeed, but even today in 2019 I’m sure that aa very great many autistic people experience bullying of one kind or another, and there is a way to come through it and even to twist it to your advantage. Again, this brings me back to the idea of positively reframing a bad event and plucking what good you can from it and using it to spur you on to even greater feats of accomplishment. I’ve done, and you can do it too, even if it does take a little time to pull it off (I took the long route, but that’s another story entirely).

Fighting back unfortunately can often bounce back on you; I walloped one of my tormentors and I was the one who ended up being suspended, when I was just nine years old. I could have done without that little drama – different primary school for a week until my autistic tendency to routine demanded I be sent back to the original one – but I understand at times it can be hard to stifle the urge to strike back.

Instead try taking a deep breath and remembering you’re more likely the one to end up in trouble rather than said tormentor. Try reframing it by imagining the idea that you’re only singled out because you’re special. Special; there, that sounds much better than ‘spastic’ (the go-to term of opprobrium in my schooling heyday) already, doesn’t it?!?

Elements of this article may be found in the memoir ‘Mickeypedia – The A to Z of an autistic savant’, by Mickey Mayhew: http://www.mickeymayhew.com/

Charity Champion Bev, shares her personal and powerful anti bullying video

Charity Champion Bev, shares her personal and powerful anti bullying video

Our Charity Champion Beverly Guest has created a very powerful video which has made many of us cry as well as an article below for Anna Kennedy Online for Give Us A Break – for anti bullying week and our campaign.

This has taken courage and strength from Bev to share this, being a victim herself evokes much emotion in others too:

This is truly something so VERY close to my heart, ‘Say NO to bullying’ and ‘Give us A Break!’ It’s taken me a long long time to write this down, and I won’t deny it was difficult, but I felt I had to do this.I’ve only EVER shared this with some of my nearest and dearest.

This is ME opening up about a small part of my personal experience of bullying. 

I cannot abide bullying. In fact I have an automatic aversion to insults, racism and prejudice against religion, LGBT community, disabilities, the list goes on and on.  Anything that focuses in a negative hurtful way on someone is abhorrent to me.  

I know we say different not less, yet that could be about anyone as actually we are all different in our own way, who says what is the correct ‘benchmark’? Surely there is no benchmark ?! We are all different, end of!

I’ve wanted to write about this for many years, but it wasn’t that easy for me. Probably because if I was honest I’ve never really gotten over it totally, or at least I reside myself to the fact that ‘it’ will always be there in my mind, poking at my heart every now and then when memories rear their ugly head.

Why was I bullied?  WHY?! Was I different? Of course. EVERYONE is different, but shouldn’t we all be? It would be a boring World if we were all the same, every difference has something different to bring to the table. Isn’t that a good thing surely….

I was bullied for many years throughout the whole of my secondary school life.  Yes. I think back now and I have no idea how I got through it all.  It started with small digs, and jibes from a certain group of girls who saw something in me, a difference if you like to themselves. They absolutely ruined my whole experience of secondary school and affected my confidence.

My friends I had moved with from primary school seemed to also slowly distance themselves from me at times too, or maybe they didn’t it’s just how it felt to me back then. I felt totally alone. I would wake up every school morning feeling so sick to the pit of my stomach, nauseous and absolutely petrified at the thought of going to school. I didn’t want to go, every day became scary and a chore.

Everyday I would have the same feelings as soon as it was time to get up, and when it was a Friday boy it was the best feeling, even better were school holidays ! I lived for them as it meant I wouldn’t have to hear or see those bullies anymore, I wouldn’t be subjected to daily comments, jibes, verbal abuse, call it whatever you wish.

They soon came up with a nickname for me, it wasn’t cute, it wasn’t meant to be a bit of fun, it wasn’t endearing or sweet, it was derogatory about me. I can’t even write it down as it takes me back to those days too much.

I would walk into the mornings tutorial and they would shout it at me, they would pass me in the corridor and would shout it at me, in a lesson and they would say it slyly (sometimes out loud in lessons depending on which teacher we had). They didn’t care who heard them, who saw them. Nobody spoke up, I felt totally alone. It was like some big black hole swallowing me up and there was nothing I could do about it.

In my previous blog ‘Sticks and Stones’ I talked about how the phrase ‘sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me’ is NOT true. It so isn’t true at all. The bullies progressed over those school years from not just words, but to physical things too. It was bad enough being told I was too this or too that, too small too skinny, quiet, shy or get lost go and die, and shouting the nickname they gave me in front of the whole class, I had it all. They became bolder.

Once they stole my new winter coat, and I never got it back. Then there was me having to run all the way home in the freezing cold to tell my parents my coat was stolen by the bullies and I broke down sat on the edge of my bed. ‘All I want is just one friend, just one!’ I cried to my Mum.  I specifically remember saying those words to her.  Mum spoke to the Deputy Head in person with me. He was about as much use as a chocolate teapot when I think back. He told my Mum the school does not encourage bullying and all he could do was to ask in assembly if anyone had seen my coat. Great.

Imagine this; I now had in my head that during the next assembly the Deputy Head was going to announce my coat was missing and did anyone know anything about it ?! Of course nobody would own up .. BUT what was guaranteed from that was that I would be targeted again by the bullies for speaking out. It would cause more stress for me. Mum was fuming with the school. My parents quickly bought me a new coat as the old one was never to be seen again.

I would go into a lesson and when the teacher wasn’t present the bullies would sneak under the desks and remove one of my shoes and throw it across the room or out the window. They would write comments about me on the blackboard, or  surround me when I came out of the toilet cubicle to wash my hands. I became scared to even visit the toilet for fear of someone waiting for me.

They locked me in the school classroom hut, they stole from me, copied my work, and kept telling me how I was worth nothing, ‘Get lost and die!’ they said.

There were no mobile phones back then, so instead of horrible texts I would get horrible notes shoved in my bag or locker, odd phone calls for me at home outside of school hours in the evening, and constant stares from people following me around school.

I could go on, there was so much more, it went on for YEARS. I wanted so much to feel comfortable to go to school and to feel  welcome, happy and valued there. I didn’t feel like that. I felt worthless, useless, like nobody liked me, nobody wanted to sit with me.

I would worry about everything and anything, the largest AND the smallest things – in fact EVERYTHING to me was a LARGE thing affecting every second of my life. I worried about how I would look when getting ready for school, my feet were small so did those new shoes I have look too childish or unfashionable as they weren’t ‘cool’ in the bullies eyes?

I worried about who and where I would sit in every single classroom, I worried if I had the right school bag, did I talk funny, would they be waiting for me round every corner? Who would I stand with or where would I go at break time, or in PE.  I hated PE as those girls could be so cruel when we got changed. 

Would I EVER be happy?

One day was particularly bad, I decided no more and answered the bullies back. I was surrounded pushed and nudged and shoved and called nasty names. I shouted at them and felt horrible, I ran all the way home as a couple of them chased me but they stopped short of coming straight to my house of course. I told my Mum. Back then you could look peoples home telephone numbers up in the telephone directory – Mum said enough is enough and she called the parents of 4 of the worst bullies. They weren’t that empathetic to be honest, it was hard for them to believe their own child was a bully, yet each parent told my Mum they would speak to their child about it.

The next day at school was HORRIBLE. I truly thank my Mum for trying to do something as the school had not cared before, yet in actual fact it just made things worse. It wasn’t her fault. The bullies were the ones at fault, I know that.

The truth is those bullies might look back or read this and think, ‘no way it wasn’t meant to be that bad it was only a bit of fun’ Well it wasn’t fun at all. Not to me. It wasn’t nice. It broke my heart; it’s an actually hurtful physical feeling, it crushed me. If someone tells you to go die, I mean come on.. honestly I can’t begin to put into words how it made me feel.

Even now, if I ever see anyone who I think is the underdog or not included, I make a point of including them. I vowed NEVER to make anyone feel like I did, ever. EVER.

I had dreams and aspirations. Back then, I wanted to be either a nursery nurse or air hostess. My school careers adviser missed that years deadline to put me forward for the nursery nurse course, then the airline I tried to ask about joining told me ‘You are not tall enough we have a minimum height to enrol’. It’s different now of course re height restrictions, but imagine back then being told I wasn’t tall enough to be an air hostess after all those years of being bullied when one of the things I was bullied about was because ‘you’re too short’ ! I was even more so heartbroken.  I resided to the fact that I would leave at the end of secondary school, go to a college where nobody knew me and try start my life again.

The day of enrolling at college I met a lovely lady in the queue to hand in our O level grades results. I never looked back – she became a dear college friend, we became friends with a lovely group and together they made me happier than I’d ever been. They probably don’t know that, but if they’re reading this they will now!

So please don’t get me wrong. I’m not wallowing in self pity. I just wanted to share some of my story as it’s anti bullying week and after all these years I thought come on Bev you CAN do this and you will! The point is, although there were times I really wanted to give up, I didn’t.  I can only say that I thought about my family and how much I loved them, how much they loved me .. AND as I had seen bits of bullying begin towards my brother, there was NO WAY I was going to let him or anyone else I knew go through what I did if I could help it.

Sadly I experienced bullying again in a different form in a past previous relationship I had many years ago. Long before I met my husband Daddy Cool and we had our Son CH. That story is a blog for another time.

So please don’t get me wrong. I’m not wallowing in self pity. I just wanted to share some of my story, particularly as it’s anti bullying week and after all these years I thought come on Bev you CAN do this and you will!  

Our Charity really have made me feel valued and comfortable about coming forward to share some of my story with you. You see, the point is, although there were times I really wanted to give up, I didn’t.  

I can only say that I thought about my family and how much I loved them, how much they loved me .. AND as I had seen bits of bullying begin towards my brother, there was NO WAY I was going to let him or anyone else I knew go through what I did if I could help it.

Sadly, I experienced bullying again in a different form in a past previous relationship I had many years ago. Long before I met my husband aka Daddy Cool and we had our Son CH. That story is a blog for another time.

I now worry about our son CH. His conditions mean he has challenges already, and the whole World still doesn’t all yet fully understand autism, so I will be there to educate, and to empower him, giving him the confidence and knowledge to understand he is an EQUAL and has the right to be himself and happy with it.

He recently said people keep saying to him ‘why are you so small CH?’ We have already spoken to him about bullying of course….

The affects of bullying can truly be all consuming, and not just for the person being bullied, but their families and loved ones too. Don’t be that person who lowers themselves to be a bully, it’s NOT a nice quality to have, it’s wrong.  It’s NOT a bit of fun, it’s NOT ‘banter’. It can break hearts, break lives, and sometimes forever. So I say..

  • be nice
  • be kind
  • be thoughtful
  • be a friend

Don’t make someone cry – Make someone smile. Speak up! Listen and help xx

Schools, the Government, workplaces, so many more could and SHOULD step up to realise bullying is wrong, it needs to STOP now!

As someone who has been bullied, and not just as a Charity Champion, I stand with Anna Kennedy Online and say NO TO BULLYING. #GiveUsABreak!

Be more US instead of singling out differences and excluding people, Be more US! Give Us A Break.

Stay kind. Stay nice. Be more US.

Big love all, love from Bev xxxx

To see more of Bev’s articles click here

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