Anna Kennedy OBE – To celebrate Facebook’s 10th birthday, Anna Kennedy discusses how she has used the social network to create a virtual autism community.
To date she has 16000 followers on Facebook across her 3 pages.
This online community helps people affected by autism and includes families, carers and celebrities who provide guidance, support and advice as well as leading up to date information on important topics such as research, education and health.
The community also offers a place for families, and parents of autistic children to share their experiences, stories and tips.
It is also a safe environment for these individuals to express their feelings.
Anna ensures that she posts on Facebook at least once a day, and she instantly responds to questions and queries.
Anna has 2 autistic sons and is an active autism campaigner and Co-Founder of Hillingdon Manor School, which is an Autism specific school.
Anna Kennedy states:
“Facebook has allowed me to actively connect with parents and families affected by autism, and it has provided a private haven. It is important that parents take a break, and when you have children with autism it isn’t always possible. My Facebook community means that these families can have a virtual coffee break, and realise that they are not alone.”
There are now over 1.2 billion Facebook users.
“Talking to others who can relate to your situation is extremely important, and I think without online platforms, such as Facebook, for many families, this would not be possible. Many parents say that my online community is a lifeline, and seeing me raise awareness and being active every day, gives them hope.”
Anna continues to say that it is extremely important that these families have somewhere to go in which to discuss their feelings and ask for advice and real experiences.
Anna supports thousands of people who have been affected by autism but her experiences haven’t always been as positive.
“Ever since I started my own journey to help those with autism, I have been struck by the woeful lack of facilities that are available for people with this sometimes challenging condition. Autism doesn’t just affect children and teenagers, it also affects adults, and I think sometimes, people forget that.”
“This is why having an online community is so important to me, as it offers a place for people to visit whenever they need to talk or have any concerns or questions, without the fear of being judged or ignored. Facebook has been a wonderful resource, and with easy accessibility, it doesn’t discriminate.”
Anna Kennedy, who has an OBE and was named Woman of the Year in 2013 by Action Network, is expanding her services all of the time. She now offers specialist training sessions for parents, carers and professionals across the country with dedicated training officer Austin Hughes, plus legal advice and support on care and education issues for those with autism from qualified Barrister Sean Kennedy.
Anna has also published a book titled ‘Not Stupid’, regarding her own personal experiences with her 2 autistic sons.