Anna Kennedy Online – Autism Awareness Charity
Autism Awareness at New Scotland Yard

Autism Awareness at New Scotland Yard

Raising Autism Awareness at New Scotland Yard

Last week Anna Kennedy OBE and DCI Dion Brown talked ‘All things Autism’ at New Scotland Yard

AnnaKennedyonline and the Metropolitan Police collaborated in April for World Autism Day raising autism awareness and acceptance.

Both Anna and Sean Kennedy, two autistic officers, DCI Brown (parent to two autistic children) spoke of their experiences and Anna shared about the work of the charity. Katie Price also joined the event to speak about her ‘Track and Troll ‘and ‘Harvey’s Law’ campaigns. 

Since then, the Met’s Autism Support Group for their own families with autistic children and officers on the spectrum has grown to a group of 450.

Anna Kennedy and DCI Dion Brown will continue to work together.

A document is being created on ‘Stop and Search’ for Autistic individuals by Sean Kennedy Barrister and DCI Brown.
More news to follow soon.

The London Police have launched their Autism Alert Card scheme and passport in 2019.

Please click here for more information

Photo Credit: Terry Scott

Judicial Alternative Dispute Resolution Hearings Pilot 2021

Judicial Alternative Dispute Resolution Hearings Pilot 2021

Judicial Alternative Dispute Resolution Hearings Pilot 2021

Very recent tribunal announcement on Judicial Alternative Dispute Resolution Hearings Pilot 2021:

  1. From May 2021 until the end of July 2021, the First-tier Tribunal Special Educational Needs and Disability will list certain types of appeals for judicial alternative dispute resolution (JADR) hearings.  These will be cases which involve Section I of an EHC plan.
  2. The JADR hearing will be listed approximately one week after the final evidence date and two weeks before the date of the final hearing. It will have an estimated length of up to 1.5 hours.
  3. The purpose of the JADR hearing is to support parties to resolve their disputes by agreement. At the hearing the judge, who has been trained in judicial mediation, will consider how to assist the parties to reach an agreement.
  4. It may be possible for the judge at the JADR hearing to provide a view as to whether either party is being unrealistic, either in respect of the evidence provided to support the placement they propose or the grounds of appeal or response. In some cases, it may be possible for the judge to express an opinion as to the strength or weakness of the appeal or response (or parts of them).
  5. It is important to stress that JADR hearings are private, confidential hearings and that the judge who conducts the JADR hearing will not conduct the final hearing in the case, if the parties cannot reach an agreement. If the judge expresses a view about the strength or weakness of the appeal or response, or about the strength of the evidence, that is not binding on the parties, but it is hoped that it will help them to reach their own agreement. Anything said at the JADR meeting should be kept confidential and not referred to after that hearing.
  6. The judge may ask the parties to sign a draft consent order if an agreement is reached in principle. If the parties are not able to reach agreement at the JADR hearing a short report will be prepared identifying the issues to be decided by the Tribunal and relevant legislative provisions to be taken into consideration.
  7. It is important to stress that the purpose of the JADR hearing is to carry out the Tribunal’s duty under rule 3 of the Tribunal Procedure Rules 2008 (as amended) to encourage the use by the parties of an alternative procedure for the resolution of the dispute and facilitate the use of the procedure if the parties so wish and to further the overriding objective set out in rule 2.
  8. The overriding objective enables the Tribunal to deal with cases fairly and justly, which includes:
  • ensuring that the parties are on an equal footing;
  • dealing with cases in ways which are proportionate to the complexity and importance of the issues;
  • avoiding unnecessary formality and seeking flexibility in the proceedings;
  • avoiding delay, so far as compatible with proper consideration of the issues; and
  • using any special expertise of the Tribunal effectively.

These principles will be applied in JADR hearings.

Although in exceptional circumstances, some necessary case management directions may be given by the judge at the JADR hearing, the purpose of the hearing will be to focus on ways of encouraging the parties to resolve their dispute by agreement. It would not be appropriate to consider issues such as postponing the final hearing, directing further evidence or considering detailed disputes over a hearing bundle, at a JADR hearing.

Credit: SOS SEN:

Introducing – The Big e

Introducing – The Big e

Introducing “The Big e”

Specialist advisory service using an #Intersectional approach to identify needs, provision, outcomes and one to one teaching. The Big e will consistently aim to educate, empower, empathise, and engage families on their SEND journey…

Marguerite is the Founder of Haye Independent Services which was successfully launched in June 2014 as a result of the Children and Families Act 2014. Marguerite’s primary goal was to support families through the new Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) journey with the new legislation. Marguerite successfully advocated for 1000s of families working in different roles nationally.  Marguerite is knowledgeable in the SEND legislation she embraces its ethos at the heart of everything she does, by adopting a child-centred approach to ensure every child receives the right provision.

Marguerite has worked in various roles in the education sector with her most recent being a Headteacher.  Marguerite recognises the missing voices in the area of SEND from children to adults, especially within the Black community.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, Marguerite became seriously ill which resulted in her having to make life changes to her role. It was decided that she would no longer be working in the role as a advocate but would use her extensive experience to offer assessments of needs and 1:1 tutoring for children with special educational needs or disabilities. This is where the – The Big e was born.

Marguerite can offer assessments, 1:1 tutoring (online) and more.

Click here for further details.

Judicial Alternative Dispute Resolution Hearings Pilot 2021

Special Educational Provision – Who is Responsible for Ensuring it is Put in Place?

Special Educational Provision
Who is Responsible for Ensuring it is Put in Place?

This video gives and overview of the law around the special educational provision contained in an EHC plan and identifies who is responsible for ensuring it is made or put in place. Many people believe it is the school or Post16 provision identified in section I of the EHC plan and this is simply not the case:-

Mental Health Week – The Mental Health Act and Autism

Mental Health Week – The Mental Health Act and Autism

Mental Health Week – The Mental Health Act and Autism

As part of Mental Health Awareness week, AKO has taken the opportunity to focus on the review of The Mental Health Act 1983 (“MHA”) which is currently underway and will focus on what the implications are for autistic people.

The MHA is piece of legislation which addresses the identification “.. care and treatment of mentally disordered patients, the management of their property and other related matters”. A mental disorder means “any disorder or disability of the mind; and mentally disordered shall be construed accordingly”. Some Examples of mental disorders are:

• Schizophrenia
• Depression
• Anxiety disorder
• Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
• Eating disorders
• Personality disorders


• Autism

The MHA details what happens when a person be admitted, detained, and treated in hospital against their wishes i.e., they are not a voluntary patient; this is commonly known as being ‘sectioned’. For this to happen, specific people i.e., psychiatrists and other approved professionals must agree that a person has a mental disorder that requires a stay in hospital.

In hospital a person can have an assessment i.e., under section 2 MHA and be given treatment i.e., under section 3 MHA if needed. This can be done when, in the opinion of certain processionals, a person is putting their own safety or someone else’s at risk. It is important to appreciate that treatment such as Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) can be given treatment even when a person doesn’t want it.

It is a certainly a large statute which has long history and has been amended a number of times. It even has its own Code of Practice, a copy of which can be found here HERE. The MHA is limited to the MHA in England and Wales – Scotland and Northern Ireland have their own mental health legislation.

It would be fair to say that over recent years a view has formed that the MHA is not fit for purpose, particularly because treatment seems to vary significantly depending on. For example, protected characteristics such as race. With regards to autistic people, many disliked being characterised as having “mental disorder”. Further there is a strong body of opinion that mental health “crises” for autistic people were often caused by inadequate support and discriminatory attitudes.

Concerns such as these lead to the Government produce a White Paper, which a policy documents produced by the Government that set out their proposals for future legislation in a defined area. It is clearly the intention of the Government to address these concerns by increased investment in mental health services and by the recommendation in the document document which can be found HERE.

The White Paper – What May Change for Autistic People?

The following proposals have been made in relation to how autistic people who are seen to have a mental disorder requiring intervention should be treated by the mental health system:

a) Autism should not be considered a mental disorder for which someone can be detained for treatment under Section 3 (which potentially has no time limit) ONLY assessment under section 2 for a maximum of 28 days should be permitted. That said, section 3 could be used if there was evidence of a “a co-occurring mental health condition”, but the following clarification is also given which is helpful:

The proposed revisions would allow for the detention of people with learning disability and autistic people for assessment, under section 2, of the Mental Health Act, when their behaviour is so distressed that there is a substantial risk of significant harm to self or others (as for all detentions) and a probable mental health cause to that behaviour that warrants assessment in hospital.

b) The white paper is clear that autism should not of itself be grounds for detention. Further an autistic person who is sectioned should not become over reliant on inpatient services when detained, the emphasis being on being supported but NOT in hospital. Further it is recommended that support it is agreed a person needs when being discharged should be given “statutory force”.

c) Whilst there does not seem to be any specific recommendation in this regard, the use of “restraint” and “restrictive practices” on autistic people in the care system is noted and concerns implied.

d) Mental Health Tribunals review detention and can, if appropriate, discharge a patient form a “section”. It is unfortunate that many panel members lack expertise and experience in autism and is recommended that this should be addressed as far as English Tribunals are concerned. It is also suggested the Tribunal become more accessible and less bureaucratic, as it the case currently and they also be allowed to review treatment and its compatibility with patient preferences

e) The Code of Practice (see above) should “clarify best practice when the MHA is used for people with autism, learning disability or both”

f) Whilst this may seem obvious to many, there is a recognition that “autism cannot be removed through treatment”

g) There should be increased monitoring of the detention of people with autism with the existence of the condition being made clear to support staff.

So, what does this mean? Nothing yet as the above are only proposals. That said, given that sections under section 3 of the MHT will be inappropriate for autistic people without any other underlying condition, it does create the possibility that there will be far fewer autistic adults and young people being detained for very long periods of time with little prospect of relief – something we see all too often now

To conclude, there does neem to be a recognition of how the MHA, designed to support people, often lets people with autism down and this at least is a good start.

Anna Kennedy Online raise autism awareness within the Metropolitan Police

Anna Kennedy Online raise autism awareness within the Metropolitan Police

Anna Kennedy Online raise autism awareness within the Metropolitan Police

Sean Kennedy is working with Chief Inspector Brown to produce a document designed for people with an ASD to assist them should they be approached by the police who think it is appropriate to conduct a stop and search.

The document will look at making people aware about stop and search and the different steps that have to be gone through to make the search lawful; a very important part of this work will examine the best approach that should be taken by anyone who has been stopped and will include the benefits of carrying the Autism Alert Card.

Anna Kennedy Online raise autism awareness within the Metropolitan Police


DCI Dion Brown who helps lead on autism awareness for the Metropolitan Police shared:

“The Met is delighted to be working in collaboration with Anna Kennedy OBE’s Autism Charity to raise autism awareness within the organisation. I would like to extend my sincere appreciation to Anna, Sean Kennedy and Katie Price for their contribution towards our efforts in marking World Autism Awareness week 2021 alongside our autistic officers and staff. This event can only be beneficial to our staff and the communities we serve.”


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