Anna Kennedy OBE is a prominent autism campaigner, Tesco Mum of the Year, founder of two ASD specialist schools in the UK, author and mother of two young men on the autistic spectrum. Anna provides help, support and information through her various social media sites, website (Anna Kennedy Online), of which Kathy Lette, James Hobley and Jo Redman are patrons) and hosts various events all across the country.
Anna also announced yesterday, October 9th, that she has been awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Professional Studies from Teesside University, her home town. Anna told Autism Daily Newscast
“I received a letter in July and nearly dropped the floor in shock. This special event will take place at the end of November at the University. I will speak to students followed by a celebratory dinner at the Riverside Club, home of Middlesebrough football club.”
On Saturday 9th November, Hillingdon Manor School in Middlesex will be holding an autism conference.
‘A conference designed for parents, professionals, carers and families who want to in-crease their knowledge and skills on behalf of children and young people affected by an autism spectrum condition.’
One of the topics which will be discussed during the conference is that of behavioural issues and challenging behaviour. Autism Daily Newscast asked Anna the question, does there need to be more education and input for both professionals and parents regarding this issue?
“Yes definitely Autism awareness and behaviour management is an on-going learning process. You can never know enough. I have been living with autism for 20 years and I am learning every day. Each person affected by autism is so different from another. I hear many times from a Professional whether it is in education or care, ‘I have worked with 2 people with a diagnosis of autism so I know all about it’. No, my answer is you know about two individuals with autism.”
Anna firmly believes that professionals should listen to parents more as they live with their children and their condition 24 hours a day, every day. Anna further explains,
“For example I recognise certain things with Angelo who has Autism, Epilepsy and significant sensory issues. I am aware of the signs when he is stressed, feeling not well or the triggers when a meltdown is about to occur.”
Anna explains that the key to working with children on the autistic spectrum is consistency. Everyone should be working together and ‘singing from the same hymn sheet’.
Anna, together with the Anti-Bullying Alliance launched their ‘Give us a Break’ campaign in April this year. This is campaign to raise awareness of bullying of children with autism in schools and colleges. Autism Daily Newscast asked Anna how she became involved with the campaign.
“I initiated Give us a Break and contacted the Anti-Bullying Alliance and asked if they wanted to work together. I looked at our own school and thought that the lunch time clubs really work for our children and that this is something that Mainstream Schools can tap into. It will add more structure to students affected by autism at break times. This is working already in many schools across the UK and I have received messages from parents who follow me on social media sites and directly from Headteachers of Schools.”
Recently Anna and Austin Hughes gave a talk about Autism Awareness at Havering Sixth Form College. Following the visit the college has taken action to make the students feel more included and safe. Paul Wakeling, Principal of Havering 6th Form College, voiced on Anna Kennedy Online,
“Following Anna’s talk, a number of autistic students requested more clubs and societies for them to feel more included in college life. In particular, two students came to see the college community team to express how they had struggled to adapt to college life. As a result, the community team set up a War Hammer Club, which has 15 members, predominantly students on the Autistic Spectrum. Moreover, as a further request from students we are setting up an after college Dungeons and Dragons and Anime and Manga Club, which has had over 40 membership requests. As a club this has had more membership requests than any other club we have tried to set up here at Havering Sixth Form. Again, most of this club’s membership is from students with Autism.”
Earlier this year Anna together with Pineapple Performing Arts School presented an autism talent show, ‘Autism’s Got Talent ‘at the Mermaid Theatre in London. This was not a competition but a celebration of children and young people on the autistic spectrum.
‘We brought together a diverse group of people from across the UK who are all on the Autistic Spectrum to show everyone just how talented they really are. This year we even have a performer coming from Canada Colin Brennan to be with us which shows just how far we are reaching out! Too often some people in society make the mistake of thinking that anyone with a disability isn’t capable of much……HOLD THE PRESS…….we showed everyone just what all these great people really are capable of and just how good they are at it!!’ (Anna Kennedy Online)
The ‘Autism’s Got Talent Show’ will be back next year and we asked Anna to tell us more about it.
“Autism’s got Talent is growing and we have now taken the show to Mermaid Theatre, Excel, Manchester and now Kent. This I believe is a great platform for children and adults with WOW factor talent to share their skills in Performing Arts. I love working on this show with my A team Austin, Lisa and Tally. We get such a buzz as do the families. We hope to take the show to more towns across the UK and hoping to take some of our acts to Leicester next year. Watch this space!”
More can be read about the Autism Conference here
Information about Anna and what she does can be found on her website