Anna Kennedy Online – Autism Awareness Charity
Preston Clash To Mark Autism Awareness Matchday

Preston Clash To Mark Autism Awareness Matchday

Preston Clash To Mark Autism Awareness Matchday


The Hornets are delighted to designate this weekend’s match against Preston North End as our annual Autism Awareness Matchday.


Autism is a spectrum condition and affects people in different ways. Like everybody, autistic people have their own strengths and weaknesses.


Autism is a hidden disability, and autistic people face discrimination and barriers across all sectors of society – in the health and social care systems, in education, in employment, and everywhere in between.


It is crucial that autistic people, and their families and carers, can access tailored information, guidance and support to overcome those barriers, along with opportunities to explore their interests, develop skills and build friendships for fulfilled lives.


Here at Watford FC, we’ve been working with families and local organisations to make our stadium and workplaces as Autism-friendly as possible since making a commitment to accessibility in 2015.


Watford were among the first clubs to open a Sensory Room in the stadium, to provide access to matches for those autistic children with sensory differences who may otherwise find the noisy environment of a football stadium challenging.


The Sensory Room provides a calming area and offers an excellent view of the match from a comfortable and accessible viewing location. It features lower levels of natural daylight, sensory facilities for children to enjoy while watching the football and more open space so children do not feel crowded or uncomfortable.


The room is staffed by trained special needs professionals who are on hand to welcome and support families attending the game, and Harry the Hornet also visits the children at half-time to further brighten their afternoon.


The Sensory Room is also used during the week by local community groups and Watford FC Community Sports & Education Trust programmes, including the Golden Memories project for those with dementia.


The club also has several pairs of ear defenders available for use across the stadium, which can be collected from the Sky Lounge Reception on Vicarage Road when supporters arrive at the stadium and are then returned there after the match.


In March last year, The Hornets Shop at The Vic introduced an inclusive shopping morning every Tuesday with screens and music turned off to provide a comfortable and accessible shopping experience for those with sensory needs.


Both the club and Trust have also reached level two of the Disability Confident Scheme and have started working towards level three, which will see us become Disability Confident Leaders as we aim to bring more people with disabilities into our workplaces. As part of that work, we have a partnership with Step2Skills.


As part of Hertfordshire County Council, the Step2Skills adult community learning and employment support service provides opportunities for adults from across the county to get involved in learning and employment within the community. The service works with people who face barriers to education and employment such as Autism, as well as learning or physical disabilities, and those with low skills or mental health conditions.


The club has also provided access for local charities, including Watford Mencap, who have attended evening matches in the Sensory Room with their service users and Anna Kennedy Online, who have held three family fun days at the stadium, which provided an opportunity for autistic children, with their parents and carers, to explore the ground at their own pace and in a quieter environment.


During the day, the group met Junior Hornets patron Ann Swanson and the tour ended in the dressing room, where the group were surprised with an appearance of men’s first-team players Tom Ince, Edo Kayembe and Jack Grieves.


“Many of the youngsters that came expressed their desire to come back to the ground for a real game and this is exactly what it’s all about,” said Jo Wiggins from Anna Kennedy Online. “We had so many lovely messages thanking us for a wonderful day; it makes it all worthwhile. We hope to do another one soon as this proved so popular that we now have a waiting list for the next one.”


“Making provision for those living with Autism is something that fits well with our history of pioneering facilities for families at Vicarage Road,” said Dave Messenger, the club’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Lead.


“The support from our community partners and staff, not to mention the families who’ve used the Sensory Room, has been a huge part of this success and we’re incredibly proud of everything we’ve achieved and to have made our stadium and workplaces Autism friendly.”


To enquire about spaces in the Sensory Room for matches, to book a pair of ear defenders or discuss other matchday requirements relating to autism spectrum disorder, please email or call our Supporter Services team on 01923 223023.

Flying High For Autism Acceptance – Fundraiser

Flying High For Autism Acceptance – Fundraiser

Flying High For Autism Acceptance – Fundraiser


Aston: I first met Anna and the team in 2015 when I performed at autisms got talent. From meeting the team I was made to feel welcome and included. I have struggled with my mental health and was becoming accepting of my autism and poor health. I was running events called autistic and proud when Anna asked me to become an ambassador. From then on I have never looked back and I want to raise more acceptance and help the charity as much as I can. This jump is to show everyone that despite my health conditions and despite my autism I can show the world what I can do. My name is Aston Avery I am autistic and doing this jump makes me very proud!

Please get behind us and show the world what we can do!

Lisa: I am doing this sky dive because the charity sponsored events I’ve completed so far are always walking related. I’ve always wanted to jump out of an aeroplane and do a huge challenge for myself so bring it on. AKO is very important to me as a charity. Since meeting Anna, working with the charity and learning about Autism it now holds a very special place in my heart ❤️ the events we put on, the children and adults we meet along the way and the friendships that are formed within our AKO family is just heartwarming.

The awareness and acceptance that still needs to be shared is vital for everyone with Autism and their friends and family. I’m jumping to scream out the message loud and clear.. Autism acceptance and awareness is key!

Steven: I first met Anna and the team back in 2014 when I judged “Wear if for Autism “ I thought I was helping a charity as I had many a time . Little did I know it changed my life and introduced me to a new family that welcome me. It was so fortunate to be asked to be one of their patrons.

I have never looked back and I want to acceptance and help work with the charity as To make a difference This jump is to show everyone that even at my youthful age of 63 and my fear of heights it can be done if you put your mind it My name is Steven Smith and I’m doing this jump to raise funds and make a difference

Please get behind us and show the world what we can do!


Please donate at

Petition update Who will look after our children when we are no longer around?

Petition update Who will look after our children when we are no longer around?

I finally received a response after chasing No.10 three times.


Petition update
Who will look after our children when we are no longer around?


Response from Dept Health and Social Care .


4 Apr 2024

Dear All Signatories,


I finally received a response below after delivering over 17k signatures and a letter to No 10 in December.


Our ref: DE-1487241


Dear Dr Kennedy,
Thank you for your correspondence of 14 December about funding and support for adults with autism.
I have been asked to reply.
I appreciate the concerns you have raised, and for highlighting the Autism Alliance report into social care services for autistic adults. These will act as useful contributions to support and inform a range of our work across the Department, including the development of the autism statutory guidance, the Building the Right Support programme, and adult social care reforms.


I would like to reassure you that the Department is working to ensure that autistic people have the right support in place to lead ordinary lives in their communities. The Department’s national autism strategy, published in July 2021, acknowledges the importance of autistic people being able to access community support, including social care, and that this should be available at the right time and tailored to their needs.


This Government is fully committed to the 10-year vision for adult social care set out in the People at the Heart of Care white paper. The Department want to ensure that everyone, including autistic people, can access high quality care that enables choice, control and independence. The Department wants care to be outstanding quality, personalised and accessible.


It is the responsibility of local authorities to assess individuals’ care and support needs, and, where eligible, for meeting those needs. To support local authorities, the Government has made available up to £8.1 billion over this financial year and next to support adult social care and discharge. This includes up to £3.2 billion of additional funding over 2023/24 and up to £4.9 billion in 2024/25. This funding will enable local authorities to buy more care packages, help people leave hospital on time,
improve workforce recruitment and retention, and reduce waiting times for care. In addition, in March 2023 the Department provided £27m of targeted funding to digitise and streamline local authority assessments to better manage waiting lists and support individuals to access the right care at the
right time.

The Department is also taking action to review how local authorities are meeting their Care Act duties. A new duty on the Care Quality Commission (CQC) to assess local authorities’ delivery of their Care Act 2014 duties went live on 1 April 2023 and the formal assessment period has started. The CQC will examine how well local authorities deliver their Care Act duties, including those that apply to autistic people. This will increase transparency and accountability and – most importantly – drive improved
outcomes for people who draw on care and support, including autistic people.


In regard to your point about autistic people in inpatient units, the Department is determined to reduce
the number of autistic people in mental health hospitals by supporting people to live well in their communities. In July 2022, the Department published the Building the Right Support (BtRS) Action Plan, which sets out cross-Government actions in the short and longer-term to reduce reliance on mental health inpatient care for autistic people and people with a learning disability.

Implementation of this Plan is being overseen by the Building the Right Support Delivery Board, which includes representatives from across Government and public services who are working together to drive progress, identifying new actions and mitigations as appropriate.


The Department is working on the development of updated autism statutory guidance, which will support the NHS and local authorities to deliver improved outcomes for autistic people. This will
include setting out what local authorities must be doing to meet their Care Act duties for autistic people. The Department is also engaging with national autism charities including members of the Autism Alliance to support development of the updated guidance.


I hope this reply is helpful.

Yours sincerely,
I Matthews


Ministerial Correspondence and Public Enquiries


Department of Health and Social Care

Autism Acceptance Day: Surviving to Thriving

Autism Acceptance Day: Surviving to Thriving

Autism Acceptance Day: Surviving to Thriving


I was working on a project for myself when a LinkedIn notification popped up explaining they needed Learning Coaches for supporting adult education of people working in warehouse. As my career was working both retail and warehousing, this caught my eye and I took a chance on applying, despite being happy where I worked. I did not know that this would help me for the first time in my life be able to thrive in what I did.


Being diagnosed autistic in your 30’s is difficult, re-evaluating your whole self and history, but it has still helped me understand who I am. Surely, you think that you have life planned out by your 30’s but I was still just beginning to understand myself for the first time.


My personality, like anyone else, is quite unique and I describe myself as someone who can perform and engage with others once I know I have created a solid method or plan to what I am going to deliver. I am the most introverted extrovert you will ever meet, although my youngest son, diagnosed at 2 and a half is just the same.


My son’s diagnosis was 14 years ago and was not a sign for me at the time to go and search for a diagnosis. I was ‘happy’ at work, a retail manager at the time who could get engage but struggled with ‘performing’ all the time. I suffered what I now know to be ‘Autistic Shutdown’ in 2018, which made me stop everything I was doing, broke my confidence and changed me from outgoing to silent. After some self-discovery, I started looking into my own self and began the process of seeking diagnosis to how I am feeling. Autism diagnosis can take excess of 2 years for people, and for people in vulnerable positions, this is too long. Being a parent kept me going and I wanted to make a difference to my children’s future. I started talking to different people and found Anna Kennedy, an autism campaigner and founder of Anna Kennedy Online, who helps so many autistic people and their families in such a positive way.


Now, working alongside the charity as one of their charity champions makes me want to continue to support positive change for autistic people. Anna was one of the first people I told that I had been diagnosed and she asked me to be a charity champion to role model to others, and that is what I want to do.


In work, having the job at Lifetime allows me to plan and prepare, charging my social battery in my own quiet and planning time, before I can go and inspire others and deliver engaging sessions. That is why the role I do is the best job I think I could have. I work with people who are genuinely interested in people and development, who are all cut from the same cloth and want to help each other. We all have the ability to help support learners from all different backgrounds with a wide range of different experiences and this should be celebrated and supported. My colleagues have all been fantastic and will ask questions about how to best support their learners. I am not an expert in autism, I am an expert in my autism but if I can help someone rethink a conversation or plan the best way to encourage learning from someone who is neurodiverse, then I am happy to help.

 When Lifetime Training began looking into their Equity, Diversity and Inclusion strategy, I asked to help because I believe there are so many more autistic people that can inspire and become great coaches in our business. We also have the opportunity in the job we do, to encourage, support and develop neurodiverse people to have better careers and to become proud of what they do, who they are and how far they have come.

 I am so happy that I am able to do a job that I love, can openly discuss being autistic and the value that this can bring to an organisation, and its great to do this to a business that wants to listen, support and make a positive change to people’s lives.

 Proud to be Autistic, Proud to support Anna Kennedy Online and Proud to work for Lifetime Training.

Today, 2nd April 2024, is also a special day as we launch this year’s Walk for Autism for Anna Kennedy Online. This year, we are doing our first stadium tour, with 12 London Stadiums being toured by myself and, I am delighted to announce that I will be once again joined by, Goddo Debattista. Goddo, himself has previously supported the charity with me, he is an experienced charity walker and a great friend.

Walk for Autism 2024: The Stadium Tour, taking place on the 24th and 25thAugust 2024, will be a 65 mile walk through London taking in the stadiums and the sites, as we raise awareness, and promote acceptance and inclusion of autistic people. You can find out more about the walk here:

LovePixArt/Anna Kennedy OBE COLLAB Autism Awareness Month Sensory Friendly T Shirt Label Free

LovePixArt/Anna Kennedy OBE COLLAB Autism Awareness Month Sensory Friendly T Shirt Label Free

LovePixArt/Anna Kennedy OBE COLLAB Autism Awareness Month Sensory Friendly T Shirt Label Free


Via Born Anxious

This Autism Acceptance Month (April), I’m thrilled to offer a limited-edition line of neuroaffirming clothing featuring with Autistic artist LovePixArt in his signature Pop Art style – perfect for expressing pride and individuality. Pop Art allows me to showcase the many vibrant aspects of autism, resonating with my own artistic expression.

Here’s the story behind the design:

The original piece, bursting with colorful Pop Art energy, was created to celebrate all things autism. It was then donated to the AKO Autism Hero Awards event, where it was a huge hit – raising an impressive £250 for this amazing charity! The artwork – printed on glass, framed, and embellished with resin for an extra pop of Pop Art flair – truly resonated with everyone who saw it.

Inspired by this success, myself (LovePixArt), Anna (AKO Charity), and Kellie (Born Anxious) decided to take this celebration a step further. We’re delighted to launch a limited-edition clothing line on Etsy featuring the design, with all proceeds going directly to AKO to support their vital work.

Find this unique, SEN-sational clothing on Etsy – search for [your shop name] to discover a range of styles for all ages!

By rocking these designs, you’ll not only be making a statement about neurodiversity but also be contributing to a fantastic cause. Let’s celebrate Autism Acceptance Month together in a vibrant and expressive way!


This item is available for purchase here

Dating and Autism Acceptance – Dani Bowman

Dating and Autism Acceptance – Dani Bowman

Dating and Autism Acceptance – Dani Bowman



Dani Bowman has been one of our Charity Overseas Ambassadors for a few years now and she supports many of our charity campaigns. Dani is an animator and founder of Danimation Entertainment, a company that teaches animation to youth on the autism spectrum. Dani is one of the stars of the U.S. version of “Love on the Spectrum,” a Netflix reality dating show about autistic people who are looking for love.

The show was in the Netflix Top 10 for two weeks following its May 18, 2022 premiere and introduced tens of millions of viewers to Dani and her ambition to change society’s perceptions about what people on the spectrum can accomplish. We are all very proud of Dani at Anna Kennedy Online and I asked Dani could she please create a short video with her tips on dating for Autism Acceptance Week.


Thank you Dani 💜