Anna Kennedy Online – Autism Awareness Charity

Mental health awareness week – an article by Mala Thapar

It is Mental health awareness week 2022 – the theme for this year is “loneliness”. This article is to share concerns with the hope that this will comfort and encourage you to share your story as it could empower and benefit others.

I have been part of Anna Kennedy Online since 2012, recently the role of a culture campaign and communications officer for the charity. In April 2021, I attended an event about racism in SEND hosted by U21. Click here to read this. I spoke about lived-in experiences based upon racism within SEND.

For me, racism was finally on the agenda after the torrid murder of George Floyd. It was shocking witnessing comments from people whom I considered friends from inner circles when trying to have that “difficult conversation”. Subsequently, this led to a very lonely time in ways that I never imagined. Then the racist abuse aimed at the three English players who missed penalty kicks during the world cup was unforgivable.

Concurrently, I was fighting for my son’s educational rights. Thankfully, I had close and supportive friends and expressed my disappointment and shared my change of direction to avoid further offence after being made to feel like an outsider. I began networking with new people in safer spaces, and meeting like-minded people reinforced that I was not alone anymore.

Throughout many years, not much has changed. There have been countless examples of racism in the media, Seni and recently Child Q, which was despicable.

When you are a parent of a disabled child or young adult, you are already facing discriminative barriers; however, when you are from a different background, the discrimination is intolerable.

Parents regularly experience unconscious bias and are accused of being “aggressive”, with no understanding of cultural differences and no interest in learning why this exists among black and brown families. Microaggressions entwined with gaslighting are sadly part of everyday life when they should not be.

“The right support, right place, and right time”

Special Need Jungle published: The casual bias and daily discrimination faced by disabled children and their families from ethnic and marginalised communities. The content is accurate and shared with the DfE before the SEND review publication click here to read this report. The DfE published: “SEND review: right support, right place, right time”. When is the “right support, right place, right time” for families from marginalised communities? Despite factual evidence shared beforehand.

Dr Anna Kennedy OBE has consistently said: “Why should children with Autism be treated like second class citizens,” which is a fact.

My message is: “Why should the global majority of people with Autism be treated like third-class citizens”?

Anna Kennedy Online have created a survey we must hear your views.

Please click here to complete this brief survey and share it with your friends and family.

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Culture CampaignMental health awareness week – Mala Thapar