Autism Anglia are taking action to highlight the severe links between autism and homelessness and the lack of appropriate housing for autistic individuals

Autism Anglia are taking action to highlight the severe links between autism and homelessness and the lack of appropriate housing for autistic individuals

The matter of homelessness, its link to autism and the lack of appropriate housing for autistic individuals is a major focus for Autism Anglia with their new campaign.

When society accepts homelessness and food banks as the norm then challenges have to be made and changes to attitudes demanded. Autism Anglia knows the tragic reality of the impact of homelessness. People call us in extreme distress, with deteriorating mental health, suicide ideations and self-harm and some have been driven to suicide. It is an increasing issue for those leaving education or care-leavers, and particularly for men in their twenties.

Research carried out in June 2018 by Alasdair Churchard, Morag Ryder and William Mandy from UCL and Andrew Greenhill from Kensington and Chelsea Learning Disability Service found 12.3 per cent of the 106 rough sleepers that were screened “showed strong signs of autistic traits that would be consistent with an autism diagnosis.” Which strongly suggests autistic adults are over-represented within the homeless population. Autism Anglia is researching current statistics of how many autistic people are affected with homelessness within East Anglia

Anecdotal evidence suggests that autistic people experience an elevated risk of homelessness.” States the Prevalence of Autistic Traits in a Homeless Population – April 2018

Homelessness is not a choice that authorities should be considering as a reasonable option for individuals. As a charity, we have observed that the gaps in services lead to a “revolving door” between the criminal justice system and the mental health service. Increased understanding of vulnerability and earlier intervention from organisations can avoid the human cost of a lack of suitable housing and make savings across all departments.

Anna Kennedy shared: “I first met Annie Sands Autism Anglia’s Manager of Welfare Rights when she was a winner at our Charity National Autism Hero Awards. I am happy to support Autism Anglia with their project on Autism and Homelessness since I have been working alongside Annie Sands on a recent case where I was impressed with her knowledge, care and support for this vulnerable autistic adult. We both strongly believe that more work and awareness raising needs to be undertaken in this area”

In February Annie Sands, Autism Anglia’s Senior Welfare Rights Adviser was contacted by Anna Kennedy OBE, a stalwart in the autism world and an avid campaigner, after being contacted herself by Dominic who is Autistic, homeless and who had just lost his job. Dominic immediately went to Cornwall County Council pleading for help.

Dominic shared “Despite being showed evidence of my vulnerability and other quite serious health conditions apart from Autism they said I was not a priority or considered vulnerable” 

Dominic reached out to Anna Kennedy who put him in touch with Annie Sands from Autism Anglia. Annie put Dominic in touch with other organisations such as Spectrum (an Autism charity in Cornwall) and Holywell Trust (a charity who assist in housing Autistic people.)  Between Anna and Annie, they guided Cornwall Council to put Dominic in emergency accommodation.

Dominic shared “The future looks brighter as Holywell Trust have found me s place to live which should be ok to move into in a couple of weeks.” 

CEO of Autism Anglia, Alan Bicknell, shared: “housing is such a basic need for people that anything we can do to improve the situation must help in some way.”

With that aim, Autism Anglia will be extending a meeting invitation to regional authorities and housing associations across East Anglia, as well as elected members and organisers of food banks, to discuss where improvements need to be made. We will look to involve organisations like Shelter and The Big Issue and Autism Leads to take a campaign to the central government to make informed changes to policies and procedures. 

Local authorities should be providing specific autism training to their staff and the necessary support that individuals require when seeking housing advice in order to prevent homelessness. From our experience, we regularly observe lack of communication and joint working among statutory agencies and often, the autistic individual is the ‘ping pong ball’ between two bats.

Autism Anglia are aware of cases on emergency housing lists for over 5 years, not meeting the needs of the individual can cause ill-health and family breakdown. There needs to be informed prioritisation criteria used by housing organisations so that suitable allocations are made.

Local authorities need to look at processes to enhance levels of understanding to prevent this group from further vulnerability and risk. More than ever, this will be paramount with the introduction of Universal credit and all the complexities that it brings.

As a regional charity representing autistic individuals, we are well-placed to highlight these issues and to give the autistic community a strong voice in decision making as set out in the autism strategy.

If you know someone affected by this issue in East Anglia and on the autistic spectrum, they can contact Autism Anglia helpline 0300 1233 122 for advice, or Shelter have a free helpline for urgent housing advice 0808 800 4444.

Anna’s Birthday show on Women’s Radio with special guests – Steven Smith and Jo Wiggins Annand

Anna’s Birthday show on Women’s Radio with special guests – Steven Smith and Jo Wiggins Annand

This week’s guest on my weekly Live Women’s Radio Show was Steven Smith and Jo Wiggins Annand. This was my special birthday show where we talked about the work of our charity AnnaKennedyonline.

Jo Wiggins Annand is a Charity Champion and after Jo’s son Ryan took part in Autism’s Got Talent in 2014, she quickly became very aware of how much AKO helped people and started helping out at various events and loved seeing the joy these experiences brought to people.

Jo shared:

“I had a lovely time yesterday at the Woman’s Radio station, very welcoming staff and lovely to chat with Anna and Steven. I enjoyed talking about one of my favourite projects with AKO – our first album launch at The Hard Rock Cafe. I was getting goosebumps talking about it as it is such a fond memory.

We also talked about how important free time for parents and carers is and our upcoming expo, but the subject closest to my heart that we touched on is bullying.

I have so much to say on the subject having sadly had to experience it with my son and to be honest I could’ve gone on for longer! When you’re so passionate about something it’s hard to keep quiet about it!”

Steven Smith has now been one of AnnaKennedyonlines Patrons for five years. Steven shared:

“It has been a pleasure and an honour to be a Patron of Anna Kennedy online. My journey started a little differently with Anna and the many wonderful volunteers and other patrons. Unlike most patrons, I do not have a family member on the autism spectrum. I hope, however, that my enthusiasm and passion ensured that my commitment was apparent and that I had as positive impact as those with direct family experience of the condition.

It was only by chance that my path crossed Anna’s. My dear friend, Samantha Tomlin, and I worked on a diversity project together. Samantha’s son is on the autism spectrum and, after we spoke about the beneficial work Anna Kennedy does, Samantha offered to introduce me.

With my 35 years of experience in the beauty and fashion industry, I was asked to judge “Wear it for Autism”, hosted by Anna. It sounded simple enough – picking winners for an amazing make-over, something I had done on GMTV and for many magazines. Boy was I wrong! The stories of bullying and of overcoming challenges, as you can imagine, left me in tears. I also was privileged to hear Anna’s own life story and can only describe her and her work as super human.

It important for most charities to have people who can spread the word. I dedicate myself to being PRO-ACTIVE in doing just that. You do not have to have direct experience of living with or supporting someone with a disability or serious health condition to identify with charities that support such people. I can attest to this.

What was remarkable was that, not only did I make a difference for the charity, but Anna and her team made a positive difference in my life. If it weren’t for being a patron, I would not have experienced the amazing challenges and opportunities that I have. To say that working with Anna Kennedy online has brought me beautiful friends would be an understatement. It is had been a remarkable journey and I can’t wait to continue to raise awareness for and support Anna’s amazing charity and her work.”

You can listen to Anna and her guests on Women’s Radio Station at 1pm.each day this week talking ‘All Things Autism

Anna Kennedy OBE

Is Ofsted a “force for good” in improving the education of SEND learners? – Special Needs Jungle

Is Ofsted a “force for good” in improving the education of SEND learners? – Special Needs Jungle

Ofsted’s draft Education Inspection Framework and School Inspection Handbook are currently out for consultation. An Ofsted inspection is a critical moment in the life of any school and the framework and handbook themselves act as drivers both for school improvement and prioritising development. Under the previous framework it was possible for schools to receive a good inspection outcome and yet not be doing particularly well for their pupils with SEND. 

The Annual Report of Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Education, Children’s Services and Skills 2017/18 had more mentions of SEND than any previous report, which was to be warmly welcomed, but some serious concerns were expressed:

“At the end of our second year of Local Area SEND inspections, we have inspected 68 local areas. Thirty of these have been required to provide a written statement of action.”
“Many EHC plans have not been successfully implemented.” p.13
“Identification of SEND is weak and those who do not quite meet the threshold for an EHC plan have poor outcomes.” p.13 
“Outcomes for young people with SEND are often poor by age 16.” p.52
“…pupils with SEN support are five times more likely to have a permanent exclusion than pupils with no SEND” p.53
“27% of pupils with SEN support had a fixed-term exclusion last year – 93,800 pupils”
“…nearly 5,800 pupils with SEND left their school between Years 10 and 11 and some of them may have been ‘off-rolled’” p.53

Ofsted Annual report 2018

So it is interesting to see how this has all ‘played out’ in the recent draft documents out for consultation now until April 5th 2019. For the purposes of this article I have considered three of them:

  • Education Inspection Framework 2019: inspecting the substance of education
  • Education Inspection Framework 2019: Equality, diversity and inclusion statement
  • School Inspection Handbook

How did these concerns play out in the draft EIF?

The EIF applies to all education institutions and particular attention has been paid to its impact on SEND. The EIF consultation document is pretty limited in terms of specific mentions of SEND; the document is 35 pages long and contains only two references to SEND (pages 15 and 24).

There are 11 proposals that are being consulted upon. It is possible to comment on SEND in some of the proposals and on page 20 there is an opportunity to comment on the draft school inspection handbook which we shall come to shortly (and upon which there is much to say about SEND).

An important aspiration is expressed on page.10: ‘We want inspection to contribute to an inclusive education system that can accommodate, and cater for, the needs of all learners of all ages.’ If it is going to do that, then we can reasonably expect some pretty clear statements in the body of the inspection handbook.

Let’s turn first however to the important ‘EIF 2019 Equality, diversity and inclusion statement’, which we should expect to be very strong in the area of SEND – and it is! There are some strong comments around mainstream schools that have a high proportion of learners, the curriculum for learners with SEND being amended to meet their needs in accordance with requirements of the Equality Act 2010 to make ‘reasonable adjustments’. There is a very significant statement repeated twice (in slightly different ways) in short space in the section on SEND (pp.6-7);  ‘Ofsted intends to be a force for improving the education available for all learners with SEND’. Wow! What a powerful statement of intent that is!

So now let’s take a look at how the statement of intent is implemented in the inspection handbook so that it can have real impact on schools. There are five sections to the handbook regarding how Ofsted will judge schools:

  • Overall Effectiveness
  • The Quality of Education
  • Behaviour and Attitudes
  • Personal Development
  • Leadership and Management

For each of these five areas there are four Grade Descriptors:

  • Outstanding
  • Good
  • Requires Improvement
  • Inadequate

The only way we can judge whether the intent in the Equality, diversity and inclusion statement is being implemented in the actual inspection handbook is to look for references in these five sections and the grade descriptors for them. I’ll give advance warning now that the implementation is patchy.

Overall Effectiveness

This section has one powerful statement on SEND but nothing in the grade descriptors. The statement occurs in para. 153; ‘Before making the final judgement on overall effectiveness, inspectors must consider the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of pupils at the school, and evaluate the extent to which the school’s education provision meets different pupils’ needs, including pupils with SEND.’ If this statement is carried through in the inspection process then it could have real impact. It would have been nice to see something on inclusion in the grade descriptors. In a recent article my colleague Adam Boddison of Nasen, called for a strengthening of this section in this way.

The Quality of Education

This section is relatively strong; containing three statements on SEND (paras. 154,157,177) and a further five within the grade descriptors. 
Within the outstanding grade descriptor is a requirement that ‘Pupils with SEND achieve the best possible outcomes.’ Within the good grade descriptors leaders must, ‘construct a curriculum to give all pupils…including pupils with SEND the knowledge and cultural capital they need to succeed in life’.

The curriculum must be ‘…successfully adapted, designed or developed to be ambitious and meet the needs of pupils with SEND, developing their knowledge, skills and abilities to apply what they know and can do with increasing fluency and independence’‘Pupils with SEND achieve the best possible outcomes.’

Within the inadequate grade descriptors‘pupils do not benefit from a good quality education. Staff expectations of them are low, and their needs are not accurately identified and/or being met.’ This last statement emphasises accurate identification that is proving such a hot area of debate in all my discussions with schools.

Behaviour and Attitudes

In my view, this section is relatively weak. There is one comment (para 193) stating that ‘Inspectors will evaluate the experience of particular individuals and groups, such as pupils for whom referrals have been made to the local authority (and check how the referral was made and the thoroughness of the follow-up), pupils with SEND, children looked after, those with medical needs and those with mental health needs. In order to do this, inspectors will look at the experience of a small sample of these pupils.’

I think there are issues nationally in terms of how reasonable adjustments are made regarding the implementation of school behaviour policies (particularly in secondary schools) for children with SEND and where leaders do not have sufficient regard for paras 6.21-6.22 of the SEN Code of Practice. It is this that is contributing to higher exclusions for children with SEND. I would therefore have liked to have seen a much stronger statement about this in the handbook and certainly something in the grade descriptors.

Personal Development

This section is also relatively weak. There is one comment on disability (para. 202) which requires the promotion of ‘an inclusive environment that meets the needs of all pupils, irrespective of age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation.’

I believe both Behaviour and Attitudes and Personal Development require strengthening in the grade descriptors by referencing the needs of learners with SEND.

Leadership and Management

There are two comments on SEND (paras. 229 and 234) but nothing in the grade descriptors. It is particularly disappointing that there is nothing on the leadership of SEND in schools as this is such a key area. By strengthening this section of the handbook the requirements to lead SEND provision more effectively and achieve Ofsted’s intention of ‘being a force for good’ for SEND would have more impact.

If we turn to paras. 293 to 295* we see some very strong comments about how all leaders (not just SENCOs) should lead for learners with SEND. I would like to see these comments moved to the leadership and management section of the handbook and reflected in the grade descriptors.

*SEMH is missing from para 294 – I am hoping that this is just an oversight, but coupled with the weaker Behaviour and Attitudes and Personal Development sections, it’s a worrying omission.

So, is Ofsted a force for good in SEND?

Let’s come back to the original statement by Ofsted that it intends to be ‘a force for good for improving the education available for learners with SEND’. My view is that there is much to commend in the consultation documents but there is still much to improve.

The Education, diversity and inclusion statement is very strong and the sections in the inspection handbook for ‘overall effectiveness’ and ‘quality of education’ are generally positive. After that it is somewhat weaker in the ways I have described.

The consultation is open until 5th April. I shall be giving my feedback and I hope this article will give others interested in improving the education of children with SEND some further ideas about how they might also feed back their views. I do believe Ofsted are listening, so let’s take the chance to respond.

Source: Is Ofsted a “force for good” in improving the education of SEND learners? – Special Needs Jungle

Anna Kennedy OBE presented with Women Appreciating Women ‘WAW Honorary Award’ – London Post

Anna Kennedy OBE presented with Women Appreciating Women ‘WAW Honorary Award’ – London Post

This week I was invited and presented with ‘WAW HONORARY AWARD’ and was inducted officially into the ‘WAW Hall of Fame’ on International women’s day 8th March at Holiday Inn London Bloomsbury at the annual prestigious conference gala and dinner of the WAW – Women Appreciating Women.

WAW – Women Appreciating Women is a global movement established by the amazing visionary woman Dr. Pauline Long to bring women together to appreciate one another and to support each other without boundaries in business, humanitarian projects, activism, professionally and personally in all aspects of life.

WAW bring incredibly extraordinary women together and supporting each other’s initiatives and just sharing human love and kindness.

They have honoured 260 wonderful women from over 90 countries in the world since 2017. This year we will honour another 100 women.

Some of the phenomenal women who have been presented with WAW Honorary Awards include:

  • The First Lady of Jamaica – Hon. Juliet Holness MP,
  • Former Vice President of Zimbabwe – Dr Joice Mujuru,
  • Veteran Hollywood Make up artist Kim Elba,
  • CEO of Diana Awards Tess Ojo,
  • Former Pilot and Business Development Leader Tara Howard,
  • International Artist Dr Vivian Timothy,
  • Visionary leader Dr Viola Edward,
  • Top photographer Monika Schaible,
  • Founder of Ann Frank Trust Gillian Walness MBE,

and Young Leader Heather Lloyd to name but a few…

The theme at Women Appreciating Women this year was ‘UNBEATABLE AS A TEAM’

I am to be included in the book: WAW – 100 Most Inspirational Women In The World being launched at House of Commons later in the month.

At the event there were amazing women from the diverse world of business, media, activism, social care, politics, law, charity, manufacturing, sports, education, health sector, consultancy, property development sector, entertainment, film, art, fashion and more on this historic night on International Women’s Day.

It was a great honour to be presented with the award and to be at such an inspiring event with women from across the UK and Overseas.

Source: Anna Kennedy OBE presented with Women Appreciating Women ‘WAW Honorary Award’ – London Post

Behaviour is communication should it be punished? An article by Georgina Robertson

Behaviour is communication should it be punished? An article by Georgina Robertson

Recently social media has been highlighting the issues of children subjected to seclusion, focus rooms, restraint and the negative impact on the children’s mental emotional and physical well being with a call for these to be stopped.

The expectation of some if not most educational provisions is that children/young adults behave in a way that is acceptable to the communities that they live within and a need for children to take more responsibility for their behaviour and learning.

These settings implement strategies to manage what is perceived as inappropriate behaviour. They create primary, secondary preventative strategies and reactive strategies otherwise known as restraint when a child’s behaviour has escalated to a state that is considered a risk to themselves or others, indicating that behaviours are deemed the responsibility of a child to change and learn from whilst not taking into consideration the child’s diagnostic needs which may or may not yet be identified or appropriately supported.

For instance, when we read in OFSTED reports comments such as “while staff know and meet the needs of their pupils well overall, they do not always fully understand and respond to the full complexity of needs, especially for those pupils with autistic spectrum disorders and social, emotional and mental health needs” yet also stating as a positive, the use of hubs and focus rooms used for “students to reflect upon incidents” of poor behaviour and to learn from them!  

One has to question whether punitive punishments, isolation, seclusion, or restraint are wholly appropriate if it is clearly noted that the staff themselves have difficulties identifying and meeting those diagnostic needs.

Children when attending educational provisions face the prospect of punitive punishments, restraint, isolation and seclusion for what is considered by society as unacceptable behaviours, yet is it poor behaviour or undiagnosed, unmet, unsupported needs triggering behaviours due to emotional internalised distress when they reach saturation point?

Are staff fully aware or trained sufficiently to recognise and meet those needs? In reality, we as parents when we hear certain wording such as special needs provision, Academy, Mainstream have a pre-conceived ideation of the level of understanding within these settings that staff hold, but may be surprised to note that for special needs provision those there are not necessarily required to have SEN specific training.

Academies which require every child have an EHCP may in actuality have little to no awareness of certain conditions affecting children such as SPD nor in actuality be appropriately equipped to meet needs, yet children experience punitive measures in relation to their diagnostic needs within these settings.

In reality, it may be difficult for staff to comprehend how difficult it is for children to keep it together when all eight of their senses are out of equilibrium which meaning they are potentially in a continual fluctuating state of flight and fight.

Bearing in mind the NHS do not commission sensory processing assessments, that 70% of children with spectrum conditions are thought to experience sensory processing deficits, this indicates an increased probability of children within these settings having unidentified conditions which contribute to emotional dysregulation. Many children are not supported with sensory diets or equipment as these services are not commissioned nor implemented in educational provisions.

Consider also the effects of stress hormones continually building up throughout the school day with other added challenges of meeting the demands of the curriculum, social expectations, environmental stressors such as lighting, decor, difficulties with filtering sounds, movement and visual distortions, and managing other people within their environment such as crowds, voices, smells, proximity, touch, etc. all of which the child is attempting to navigate whilst also attempting to understand and processing the educational material before them in an environment that is not conducive to promote learning; this does not take into account unexpected changes or expectations throughout the day.

Can we truly direct responsibility for presumed poor behaviour solely at the children’s feet who are trying their best to self regulate when they themselves may not be able to comprehend the complexity of their needs nor necessarily have the cognitive ability to do so or have been taught skills to do so when even the staff themselves are noted to struggle similarly.

Another possible factor, often overlooked and potentially under identified as it is not routinely screened for within spectrum conditions, are speech and language difficulties.

Children who have the apparent ability to use eloquent, convoluted, above chronological age speech appear to be ruled out as needing investigation, yet speech and language is not just about how words are used, it covers processing, comprehension, short term and long term memory, how many children could be experiencing pragmatic language impairment for instance but have not been identified as such.

This further adds weight to question the appropriateness of punishing children or asking them to reflect on their behaviour when they may not be able to do so. For example, it may take them anything from a few days to a few months to process an event. Their use of language may be misinterpreted triggering conflict. Does a child who laughs in response to anxiety understand that this is perceived and judged an inappropriate behaviour? It would doubtful when it is most likely in reality is an anxiety invoked response.

All of this can impede a child or adult’s ability to cognitively process or understand what led to their emotional response to both internal and external stimuli, triggering potential the for meltdowns or shutdowns. If staff mishandle the initial situation, future situations then potentially escalate due to those previously mishandled situations with the risk of psychological, emotional and physical harm as the need for physical intervention increases.

Therefore we can see how when unmet, undiagnosed needs or indeed recognised needs that are not supported appropriately, can prevent a child from not only being able to regulate their emotions and display behaviour deemed as unacceptable, but also has the potential to negatively impact on their mental and emotional wellbeing as they experience punitive punishments for behaviours out with their control triggering secondary emotions of guilt, shame and fear though again they may not recognise these as such thus escalating and potentially leading to school refusal.

One would hope that if children do school refuse, that a concerted effort would be made by the educational provision to listen to the child and families to establish causation and implement positive changes which reassure and support the child, but instead what we may encounter in school policies is wording that indicates otherwise, for example “whilst we recognise these anxieties we will always challenge and develop our pupils”.

I would suggest that it is important and imperative that children’s needs are identified not minimised, that children be automatically screened for conditions such as speech and language impairments, sensory processing impairments and dyslexia;

That the NHS use DISCO and ADOS together so that children, especially girls and children with the PDA profile are less likely to be missed and early intervention can take place to ensure appropriate interventions and support within educational provisions can be provided.

I would also suggest that educational provisions be proactive in looking into alternatives to punitive punishments to reduce not only conflicts, but to enhance relationships not only with the pupils within their care but also parents. 

Mindfulness, Emotional Freedom Technique, Movement breaks, equipment that would allow for movement to promote better processing for children who need movement should be provided. These have already been trialled and found to be more effective in reducing the need for punitive punishments such as detentions.  

Consider also environmental changes such as the colour walls are painted, the lighting used, acoustics to reduce antagonistic stimulus for children within their schools. Look at using sensory rooms rather than bare, stark “calming focus” rooms.

Granted the cost Implications short term may dissuade educational provisions from implementing these changes, however, one could suggest that this substantiates the hypothesis that it easier and more cost effective to hold the child and parents accountable for behaviours relating to diagnostic needs, than to look at what the actual contributing factors to children and young adults are, why they are not coping within educational provisions as already noted above.

Marshall B. Rosenberg, PH.D. in his book Life Enriching Education, notes that “organisations that are dominating have as motivation punishment, reward, guilt, shame, obligation, duty. With the goal being to prove who is right and wrong, get what you want and obey authority”. He also notes “unfortunately the language we have learnt has taught us to judge our own actions and the actions of others in terms of moralistic categories such as “right/wrong” “correct/incorrect”, “good/bad,” “normal/abnormal,” “appropriate/inappropriate.”

He also notes that “we have been further educated to believe that persons in positions of authority know which of these judgements best fits any situation. If we find ourselves wearing the label “teacher” or “principal,” we think we should know what is best for all those we supervise, and are quick to label those who do not comply”.

In reality how can anyone appropriately judge a situation when they do not possess all the facts, such as a child’s needs. If they have not had training how could they understand the scope to which a condition may affect a child. If specialist equipment or interventions are not provided how can they accurately judge whether a child’s behavioural response or communications is inappropriate? Is it justifiable to punish a child for invisible disabilities and diagnostic issues when they have not been appropriately identified?

Behaviour is communication, let us hear what the child is communicating through their behaviour rather than punish that communication attempt; identify and meet that need rather than simply punish their unmet diagnostic need.

International Women’s Day – 2019

International Women’s Day – 2019

International Women’s Day 2019 campaign theme this year is #BalanceforBetter and is taking place on Friday 8th March 2019!

I am celebrating this day because I have been lucky enough to meet so many wonderful talented autistic women and devoted mothers of children on the autism spectrum.

Perhaps most of all I celebrate autistic women having access to appropriate education.

We need to support autistic women from all around the world to receive the education and support they so rightly deserve.

We need to help them build a future career so that they can make their mark in this world just like everyone else.

Dr Anna Kennedy OBE

Important announcement first!

Anna Kennedy Online would like to share some very exciting news!!

We are proud to announce that Paula McGowan is one of our new Overseas Charity Ambassadors!

At the 2018 Autism Hero Awards, Paula received the Special Recognition Award.

Please read more details about Paula and her involvement in our International Women’s Day 2019 campaign.

Paula McGowan
Overseas Autism Ambassador

Paula McGowan’s son Oliver died in Southmead Hospital after given medication against her wishes.

Paula launched a petition calling on the Government to introduce new training and is campaigning to the Government to ensure all healthcare professionals get mandatory training to address the inequalities facing autistic individuals and learning disability.

“I support International Women’s Day because it empowers women to be exactly who they want to be. Without women, life would not exist.

We are strong and with the right skills we can do anything we choose to do, be anything we want to be.”

Paula McGowan

Siena Castellon
Autism Ambassador

“This year, I signed a publishing deal with Jessica Kingsley Publishing to write a survival guide for autistic teen girls.

Although many books have been written by professionals for parents of autistic children and for autistic boys, my survival guide will be the first book that is written by a teen autistic girl for teen autistic girls.

I also want my book to recognise and celebrate autistic women, which is why I’m delighted that it will be illustrated by the talented Rebecca Burgess, an autistic illustrator and that the amazing Temple Grandin has tentatively agreed to write the foreword.  

Since the 2019 theme for International Women’s Day 2019 is #BalanceforBetter

I am thrilled to have been given an opportunity to play a small part in creating a more gender balanced world.”

Siena Castellon 

Jo Luck
Charity Patron

“Just living in today’s society is tough – everywhere we look there are pressures, demands and expectations, some of which are of course based on our gender. Being female has never deterred me from anything.

I chose a pair of kickboxing gloves over dancing shoes and before that it was a football.

In my sport for a long time women have not been as revered as the male competitors, there have been less weight categories and less competitors but this is changing.

It wasn’t enough to be good at my sport I had to be special and now when I step into a training session to spar with my team mates I’m no longer looked as female, I’m looked at as a fighter and I will hold my own with the men.

Being female does not make us weaker, softer or less capable – we have the capacity to be strong in every way.

Things which are seen as weak such as being more emotional can make us stronger and give advantages.

It is simply what we make of what we have, what we want to see and achieve and doing that.

I’ve had a painful time over the last 10 months – I was very ill and I couldn’t do the things I usually would.

But I’m now turning that corner, I will always look to win in my sport and always approach anything with the aim of winning but regardless of that I win everyday.

It’s not a man’s world or a woman’s world.

It’s a world which should be open to us all, where we are free to be true to ourselves”

Jo Luck 
Charity Patron

Shola Mos-Shogbamimu
Lawyer, Political & Women’s Rights Activist

“‘As we celebrate ##IWD2019 it is time for a reckoning of Gender and Power. 

Let’s consciously drive a wedge to end misogny and use intersectionality as a tool to #balanceforbetter.”

Shola Mos-Shogbamimu
Lawyer, Political & Women’s Rights Activist, Founder of Women in Leadership publication and Author

Charlie Brooks
Actress and model

“Women are strong and being heard louder and louder every day, let’s keep shouting, let’s keep shining and let’s keep inspiring.
Happy international woman’s day #women #iwd2019″ 

Charlie Brooks
Actress and Model

Dani Bowman
Overseas Autism Ambassador

“English is my second language, Autism was my first.

I did not speak till I was 6 years old. Catching up with my English was really difficult.

The professionals said I would not finish High School or amount to anything, but they were wrong.

I now own a talent development company with a focus on arts and animation, helping young adults with autism and other related disabilities to develop their talents and enter the workforce.

If I can do it, you can do it.”

Dani Bowman
Chief Creative Officer
Danimation Entertainment

BFA with a focus on Animation
MBA with a focus on Leadership

Kacey Ainsworth 

“It is important to recognise the actions of women.

We are half the planet but seldom are our voices heard or our actions and accomplishments recognised hence international women’s day.

One day to celebrate what is it to be a women in a male dominated world”

Kacey Ainsworth 

Dr Pam Spurr
Self help expert

“Find your sense of purpose in life and set goals to reach it.

Even if the road ahead feels tough, never lose sight of those goals.

Right now you might not realise how much inner strength you have but it’s there! It’s just waiting for you to tap into it.

Never feel embarrassed about asking for help to reach your goals, we all need help. It’s a sign of strength, not weakness, to ask.

And don’t forget, your goals may change over time and take you in a new direction – that can be the exciting part – reaching out for new goals.”

Dr Pam Spurr
Self help expert, life and solutions coach, commentator and writer
Chartered Academic, Research and Teaching Psychologist with the BPS

Cheryl Fergison

”No matter who you are or what different abilities you have you should always be proud of your personal achievements.

Never let people tell you that you can’t do something because if you want it enough you’re personal challenge and motivation is enough to show how much you can do the impossible.

Always try to be as positive as you can even when things around you seem to pull you in another direction … remember the world is full of very different people and the world is lucky to have a fantastic individual as yourself …

Strive for your own happiness and love yourself … best wishes for everything you do” 

Cheryl Fergison