Anna Kennedy Online – Autism Awareness Charity
Anna’s guests this week at Women’s Radio were Melanie Leahy and Julia Caro

Anna’s guests this week at Women’s Radio were Melanie Leahy and Julia Caro

Anna’s guests this week on ‘All things Autism’ at Women’s Radio were Melanie Leahy and Julia Caro

Anna Kennedy’s guest this week on Women’s Radio Station were Melanie Leahy and Julia Caro dropped in for a chat about Matthew’s campaign. The campaign for a full STATUTORY PUBLIC INQUIRY into Essex Mental Health Services (both in the community and in hospitals).

‘All things Autism” will be aired at 1pm and 1am every day this week.  Please see

Melanie shared:

Melanie’s son Matthew Leahy was just 20 when he died whilst in state care, in November 2012.  Matthew had been sectioned for his own safety and was dead within 7 days. Since his passing, his mother has been on a journey for truth. To find out what went so desperately wrong that her only child would die.

Despite multiple investigations and reviews over the last ten-year period Melanie says she still is no closer to the truth. Those documents have gone missing, documents have been falsified, important evidence destroyed. That staff have never been interviewed under oath and nobody has been held to account for any wrongdoing. Worse of all Melanie says that throughout this ten-year battle, others have continued to die.

Julia shared:

Julia’s son, Chris Nota just 19, being another unexpected, needless death in Summer 2020.  This was the second loss for Julia, who had also lost her brother in her teens under similar circumstances.

“Multiple deaths under a failing mental health system continue needlessly – not just in Essex, but across the nation. “

“We really want to see this area of medicine move into line with state-of-the-art science and create safe and good outcomes.  We can do this by looking back on the failings made in recent years in both hospitals and the community. Both needing a clear and honest investigation, where we can confront preventable issues which must now be openly acknowledged. We believe that the knowledge is now there and that we can revolutionise this dark, dusty area and prove that good outcomes and safety are not an impossible dream”.

Julia and Melanie both shared:

“Nadine Dorries, Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention has commissioned a limited independent inquiry into hospital deaths, in a limited area within Essex.  This inquiry has no power to compel witnesses to attend or power to call for documentation to be produced. We can move no further forward unless it becomes a full statutory public inquiry and brings in community mental health services too.”

Julia and Melanie met through Matthews Campaign and their joint realisation that SEND is very much at the heart of the issues that have been faced in Essex.

“The SÉND failures that many have experienced are leading to too many of our children going into an adult mental health service – that is not fit for purpose.”

“We need the support of our community now to change this.”

“The SEND world has responded with great support for Matthew’s campaign and have told us that we must succeed. It is such a huge responsibility that we take so seriously.  We have appreciated their support and solidarity as we have pushed for this inquiry.”

“We must have a STATUTORY PUBLIC INQUIRY into Essex Mental Health Services commissioned without further delay.”

“Please support Matthews campaign by signing and sharing our petition – to help us raise national awareness and remind the Government that we will continue to call for the Truth, Justice and Accountability needed to lead to meaningful change within mental health services in Essex and across the nation.”

Melanie Leahy and Julia Caro

Please sign Julia and Melanie petition:


Our kids are dead or damaged – we fight to save yours. Raped, abused, murdered, drugged, ….in modern day UK. It must be stopped NOW !”

Please help by adding your name. Our goal is to reach 100,000 signatures and we need more support.

You can read more and sign the petition here:


Melanie & Julia

Link to Julia Caro and her charity website: Send The Right Message

Connect with her on Social Media

Link to Melanie Leahy #matthewscampaign website: Cure Mental Health

Connect with her on Social Media

Anna’s guest at Women’s Radio was Rachael Williams

Anna’s guest at Women’s Radio was Rachael Williams

Anna’s guest on ‘All things Autism’ at Women’s Radio was Rachael Williams

Anna Kennedy’s guest on Women’s Radio Station was Rachael Williams .
‘All things Autism” will be aired at 1pm and 1am every day this week.  Please see

Rachel shared:

It was truly an honour getting the opportunity to speak with Anna discussing all things autism and our families journey. 

Everyone I feel has a story to tell as no ones journey is the same, and when you have a non verbal child or children you really do become the voice for the voiceless but as time progresses you realise that whilst our children who grow to be adults may struggle with their voice parents and care givers seem to also be over looked and it’s great that Anna keeps this in the forefront going forward. 

It’s important for me as a mother of 4 children, 3 of which are on the autistic spectrum to keep our journey 100% transparent because no one can actually prepare you for what obstacles that may come your way, but at the same time no one also told me how much we would appreciate and celebrate the wins that are so small to other people yet so big to us! 

Anna’s take 5 campaign is very pivotal and very important and I often forget to take that advice and act on it but my advice to anyone would be to take 5 minutes each day for yourself because you as the main care giver are the back bone of the family and you are needed more than you realise at times. 

I hope i get the opportunity to speak to Anna again because with a journey such as this one you feel like you barely scratch the surface. We can’t change the world for our children but it’s the small things that make a huge difference which is why I wrote my books. 

I didn’t want my children to grow up and say “we didn’t get a chance to read books with children like us in them”- so I changed that, no child should feel ‘less than’ no family should feel ‘less than’ and we often do because there simply is not enough services, products, accessibility for SEN children.

The books have I written are not even on white paper- the paper is a tinted paper because i wanted to make books accessible and different ability friendly, for instance people with eye conditions and dyslexia can read my books more comfortably because we changed the colour of the paper- as I say, it’s the little things that matter, make a huge difference and make people feel ‘NOT LESS THAN’,

Anna’s guest this week at Women’s Radio was Charmaine Champ

Anna’s guest this week at Women’s Radio was Charmaine Champ

Anna’s guest this week on ‘All things Autism’ at Women’s Radio was Charmaine Champ, who is a Continence Sleep and Behaviour Consultant

Anna Kennedy’s guest this week on Women’s Radio Station was Charmaine Champ.
‘All things Autism” will be aired at 1pm and 1am every day this week.  Please see

Charmaine shared:

As a Continence Sleep and Behaviour Consultant, with over twenty-five years, qualified experience specialising in supporting all children, young people and adults, as a registered nurse in learning disability and community nurse specialist background in supporting individuals with and without a diagnosis of Autism, Learning Disability, Complex, Additional needs, and Neurodiversity, their families, carers, professionals, organisations, charities, I am passionate about helping individuals.

My role specialises in providing a holistic approach to individuals continence, sleep and behavioural needs, through incorporating physical health needs, communication, sensory needs, behavioural and environmental approaches within all starter packages, direct solution packages of care, online courses, groups and two published books.

Through my role I have been developing several new initiatives to support individuals and their families in being successful with toileting, sleeping and behavioural needs:

  • Published: Bowel and Bladder Assessment Pack, Step by Step guide for families, carers and professionals in how to help children and young people with complex needs be successful with toileting, available direct or via Amazon.
  • Published: Bobby can use the toilet, social story book with clear text and illustrations to help understand and learn the toileting routine, available direct or via Amazon.
  • Introduced: YouTube channel: Charmaine Champ, produced a selection of step-by-step FREE videos for families
  • Producing a “Toileting Kit” for children, young people and adults, providing step by step guidance to be implemented within the home and community. The Toileting Kit incorporates physical health, behavioural and communication aids and has been jointly developed with Orkid Ideas and will be launched soon!
  • Producing a “new” online course: Achieving Poo SUCCESS, providing everything you as a family, carer, or professional will need to help your child, young people who will only poo in a nappy, be successful in moving towards pooing in the toilet. Achieving Poo SUCCESS incorporates a holistic approach and has been jointly developed with Therapeeze and will be launched soon!
  • Producing a “new” toileting support group for families, online to receive ongoing support, advice and information to help their individual children, young people or adults to be successful with using the toilet, will be launched soon!
  • Producing a “Sleep Kit” for children, young people and adults, providing step by step guidance to be implemented within the home. The Sleep Kit incorporates physical health, behavioural and communication aids and will be launched soon!
  • Producing a online course: Exploring continence, sleep, behaviour and sensory needs to be launched soon!
  • Producing a “new” sleep support group for families, online to receive ongoing support, advice and information to help their individual children, young people or adults to be successful with sleeping, will be launched soon!

Help is available, should you or a family you support have any concerns around a child, young person or adult’s continence sleep or behavioural needs.

Further support is available through a FREE Introductory call, FREE Supporting Videos, Published books, Online courses, Online support group, Direct Starter Packages, Direct Solution Comprehensive Assessment Packages of Care and many more support options.

If you would like to hear more about the new initiates being produced and being launched soon, feel free to share your details and be the first to receive the information!

Look forward to speaking and support you further


Continence Sleep and Behaviour Consultant

Clear Steps Consultancy

Website: (To be launched Summer 2021):


Published books: Bobby can use the toilet and Bowel & Bladder Assessment Pack: A Guide for Carers and Professionals

Connect with Charmaine on Social Media:

Anna’s guest this week at Women’s Radio was Greg Smith

Anna’s guest this week at Women’s Radio was Greg Smith

Anna’s guest this week on ‘All things Autism’ was Greg Smith

Anna Kennedy’s guest this week on Women’s Radio Station was Greg Smith .
‘All things Autism” will be aired at 1pm and 1am every day this week.  Please see

Greg shared:

My name is Greg Smith I am 24 years old and am from Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk.

My story started when I attended a mainstream primary school in Bury St Edmunds, thinking I was fine, not old enough to know that I had already been diagnosed with ASD. I had friends and teachers that understood me and had a happy time there.

Next, I was lucky enough to attend Priory school in Bury- which is a school for children with mild to moderate learning difficulties. It taught me how to be more independent and confident which prepared me for life in the bigger outside world. I completed my education and achieved 8 Entry Level and one GCSE qualifications.

Greg Smith at Harry Specters

I currently work as a production worker for a Social Enterprise company called Harry Specters in Ely, Cambridgeshire which is very well renowned for its high-quality chocolates and employs people with autism, giving them the opportunity of working in paid employment.

I have been working at Harry Specters for over 3 years as an assistant chocolatier.

It has changed my life hugely as a person as I am now financially independent and the Shahs have inspired me to do other things such as spreading the word about living with Autism and promoting equality rights for people of minority groups, including people with Autism.

Listening to Mona Shah on the radio has inspired me to try and follow in her footsteps in promoting the autistic community as a valuable part of a workforce.

Autistic skills such as following rules, planning and sticking to timescales, make people with autism effective and valuable members of a workforce.

After finishing college, I spent over a year applying for a range of jobs such as Warehouse work and working at the Royal Mail, jobs that I could have done very well if I was given the chance.

Unfortunately, the interview process was very difficult for me as the questions were usually too complicated and confusing. I believe there needs to be more understanding by employers when interviewing people with disabilities.

On weekends I am a karting driver who competes in the Club 100 Lightweight Sprint Championships at tracks around the UK where many British F1 drivers started their careers.

I drive myself to these events as I passed my driving test in 2016 after a lot of hard work, which has really helped with my independence.

I completed my first year with Club 100 and last December I won the Lightweight Sprint Class 3 Championship.

I am entering my 2nd year with them as a Lightweight Sprint Class 2 driver for 2021. I believe that my Autism has made me a better driver, as I take my time to study track layouts and plan timings and tactics to get the best out of myself.

On my crash helmet, I proudly carry the Autism Awareness ribbon to help drivers that I compete against understand who I am and why I was diagnosed with Autism as a child.

Greg Smith Helmet for Autism Awareness
Women’s Radio Greg Smith

Also, during 2020 in the pandemic crisis, I have met some amazing people from an owner karting team called AIM (Autism In Motorsports) who have some very talented drivers. Their aim is to bring in and inspire young people with autism into the world of motorsport to see if it is the right competitive sport for them.

I want to help inspire people with autism that no matter what barriers that hold you down, you can still get past those walls and make it into highly competitive sporting environments such as karting and make a very successful career out of it to help gain improved normality in society and most of all, equality.

Doing an interview on Women’s radio station is an important way for me to speak up for myself and the autistic community. Speaking to Anna Kennedy OBE was a huge honour and a privilege.

What keeps me positive is my racing, working with Harry Specters and now, trying to promote a positive message about living with Autism.

Anna’s guest this week at Women’s Radio was our charity Ambassador Paul Isaacs

Anna’s guest this week at Women’s Radio was our charity Ambassador Paul Isaacs

Anna’s guest this week on ‘All things Autism’ was our charity Ambassador Paul Isaacs

Anna Kennedy’s guest this week on Women’s Radio Station was Paul Isaacs.
‘All things Autism” will be aired at 1pm and 1am every day this week.  Please see

Paul shared: My name is Paul Isaacs and I have been an autism advocate for over 10 years, in that time I have seen many changes – some positive and accommodating others separatist and polarising.

Birth & Early Development
I was born in May 1986 and I was a month premature.

By my Mother’s observations I was quite and happy baby, however after the first six months onwards she began to notice differences in my development.

The initial worry was that I was deaf and/or blind this was round 1987, my motor coordination was delayed, I had oral apraxia for a time and didn’t gain functional speech between the ages 7/8 years old in 1994. Due to being meaning deaf and meaning blind.

Mainstream Education & Employment
I went through mainstream education from the 1989 to 2002 despite having obvious challenges.

The social and environmental factors were acute if not initially passive by people in their presentation, comments, body language and judgement.

It was subversive from the adults within my village and more pronounced and opaque towards me from 1991 onwards at age of five, this then transferred into my educational experiences and larger part of my employment history.

Paul Isaacs

What I Reflected Upon
What I have learned from these experiences is lack of knowledge creates judgement, bigotry and separation, but what causes this?

The Mechanics of Bigotry?
I think it is due to one’s environment, personality factors (although not entirely indicative), core beliefs (what is considered “normal”, “right”, “wrong”) and what could be extension of someone’s ideal of morality.

Now what else I would say about this is false belief systems have to be procured and recycled.

It needs to be fed from generation to generation. This means that if these ideals aren’t challenged they cannot build fertile grounds of change.

Be Kind & Understand Why
This on a personal level this has brought me peace, balance and objectivity now I am not procuring bigotry or saying it is right, quite the opposite.

Sadly psycho-social and environmental underpinnings of ignorance have to be understood in order to give an opening for growth and internal change.

So in many ways the people whom projected their venom on to me. Did they have –

  • Information processing challenges?
  • Learning difficulties?
  • Their own developmental challenges?
  • Mental health conditions?
  • Challenges round attachment?
  • Personality disorders?

I thank these people for at the very least giving me a very clear framework of how not to treat other people.

Polly Samuel’s Fruit Salad Analogy
In the interview I talk about Donna William’s’ fruit salad analogy and how it has helped me grow not only in a professional capacity but personal one as well.

Over the years of being speaker, trainer and consultant I have used the foundation of her analogy and shared to masses so that people can be empowered (parents, carers, guardians teachers, mental health professionals and people on the spectrum) to get to the underpinnings of what is going on.

Could it be exposure anxiety? Could it be visual perceptual disorders? Could it be dyspraxia?

I am balanced that I don’t hold (and never will) all the answers and that in comes objectivity I do not speak for “all” on the spectrum that is impossible task.

I am but one person however what I can do is point out the multifaceted nature of “autistic fruit salads” and open up people’s perceptions.

In the end it isn’t about me, my ego, my status or my person it becomes about something greater other human beings.

Autism & Militancy
I am have noted the militancy within the autism community for many years, I am not affiliated with any groups nor doe I procure to mantra of “us and we” which suggests that all people on the spectrum think and act the same.

I do not procure to using the word “neurotypical” as a slur with bigoted and separatist undertones.

How can one fight bigotry if you are willing to “other” people? Also I choose not to use that word because in my opinion there is no such thing because there are “non-autistic” fruit salads too.

Thinking About Human Beings
All people go through an AUT-istic stage of development.

People with autism can have non-autistic moments and experiences and people without autism can have autistic moments and experiences.

Lets be kind enough to presume competence, intelligence and in understanding the persons autism you have do not have to define their entire being by it because what else would be left? We have enough man-made divisions as it is.

I ask you do we need any more?

Paul Isaacs 2021

Anna’s guest this week at Women’s Radio – Nicola Carey-Shine

Anna’s guest this week at Women’s Radio – Nicola Carey-Shine

Anna’s guest this week on ‘All things Autism’ at Women’s Radio was Nicola Carey-Shine

Anna Kennedy’s guest this week on Women’s Radio Station was Nicola Carey-Shine.
‘All things Autism” will be aired at 1pm and 1am every day this week.  Please see

Nicola shared:

After a decade as a mainstream teacher (and middle manager) in an extremely large comprehensive school, with highly challenging pupils (many of whom had undiagnosed SEN), people used to say to me: ‘Why would you want to put yourself through that?’ Or ‘I don’t envy you!’ The truth was, I loved it.

The bonds I made resonated at a deep-down level, knowing the child who had arrived so angry, anxious and misunderstood now had their own toolkit to achieve better life chances.

So, why did I leave my safe job of over a decade?…..Because of how I saw the Government rip apart the safety net for those with Special Educational needs. Schools became populated with ‘Business managers’ who wanted to tick boxes, but didn’t have the time to sit down, look their pupils in the eye, and really hear what they needed to thrive.

Whilst on maternity leave of my first child, I decided to be the change I was so desperate for. With my new born son in his sling, we walked the streets of our local towns together, knocking on doors and explaining my new venture: a specialist provision for those who needed it most.

After teaching myself how to build a website in between nursing my son, managing my first budget, and creating my own workshops, praise spread, and my pupil cohort grew from 1 to 30 in 3 months.

Within its first year, and every year since, the Learn to Shine school has won regional and National awards, a testament to the hard work, love and dedication that goes into education accessible to all.

Since inception, I have endeavoured to create pathways that most benefit pupils who have been forgotten about or let down by, mainstream education. Families continue to have their access to the correct support obstructed.

As an adult my own ADHD was confirmed, but as a surprise to me, it was one of the most chronic scores. By undertaking a Masters in Psychology, specialist training in Child Speech and language therapy, and Occupational therapy I have been reminded just how difficult and frustrating being in a classroom can be….but it’s been worth it.

I have been able to give parents access to Educational Healthcare plans, and act as their advocate with local authorities to protect their child’s rights. Workshops are designed to help young people obtain skills missing from their development, but always following the principle that learning is best absorbed when it is multi-sensory and fun.

Adult carers and parents can also attend Art therapy groups to create respite and joy in challenging times. All of this has been adapted around Covid in weird and wonderful ways!

At the moment, I manage all of this (along with my own two very small children) by myself. Since creation, I have had a waiting list and have had to turn children away. This truly breaks my heart…but at the beginning of the year we found the perfect land to expand our acorn into a much bigger source of support, allowing for more bespoke learning, SEN screeners, therapies, and life skills such as cooking, bush craft and animal welfare.

The life changing opportunities are breath taking, and would mean that I wouldn’t have to turn any child away.

I have realised that with relentless passion and the desire to make fair chances for all children, we have the ability to make huge changes, or the ‘butterfly effect’. Please be part of it.

The Learn to Shine school offers:

  • Pre-screening support for diagnosis and next steps (Autism, ASD and range of SEN)
  • Behavioural and emotional coaching for families
  • 1:1 and group Literacy and Numeracy boosters
  • Therapeutic Art sessions for both children and adults/carers