July 16, 2014

CFDA1Campaign for Disability Awareness Lessons – Sharon Tiday, Michelle Fallick and Louise Steer, from the CFDA team held their first radio show, Campaign for Disability Awareness Show on the Access All Aerials  radio station based at Dame Hannah Rodgers Trust. on  Friday July 11.

The aim of CFDA is to to raise more awareness around the issues of disability within our schools and to make disability awareness lessons part of  mainstream schools curriculum. Autism Daily Newscast reported on an earlier interview with the campaign team on the Access All Aerials radio station, last month and the article can be read here.

Their first guest on the brand new show was Kevin Healey, leading autism campaigner whom Autism Daily Newscast have interviewed on several occasions.

Kevin spoke about his recent Autism Anti Bullying Campaign and his campaign in which he is helping Leo Andrade-Martinez, a mother who is currently campaigning  to bring her severely autistic son, Stephen 19,  back nearer home. At present he is in a psychiatric unit at St Andrew’s Hospital, Northampton, which is 80 miles from his Islington home. The campaign petition for  #BringStephenHome can be found here.

Questions were posed to Kevin by  CFDA members.

One question posed was that of;

“In your opinion, what do you think of the fact that they are taking away the word, Aspergers and only using the word autsim, do you think this will cause problems in the future for people who actually have Aspergers?”

Kevin Healey
Kevin Healey

Kevin explained that this has been derided by the American Diagnostic Manual criteria. and answered that:

“Aspergers is, in my own personal opinion,  one separate condition

“People who have Asprgers have a mild form of autism”

He continues to state that he believes that ‘autism’ and ‘Aspergers’ should be kept separate.

Kevin was diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome  in 2001 by Professor Simon Baron Cohen.

The issue of twitter refusing to verify Kevin’s twitter account was also discussed. Kevin has, and continues to be, the victim of  horrific bullying and trollig and has received numerous abusive tweets. He explains during the interview that Facebook has verified his account but that twitter still reuse to do so and that he is no closer to receiving verification but is still campaigning, along with his local MP and the police who have contacted twitter.

Another question put to Kevin was by a mother who told that she is worried about how to communicate with her son who has autism, she told that he does not talk about his school day and wanted to know how best to chat about his day, her son is only 7.  Kevin suggested that maybe drawing a picture could help but that it is very difficult at that age to convey emotions and feelings.

The team finally asked Kevin about any future plans and he shared exclusively that he will be meeting with film producers soon to talk about turning  his book Twin Brothers, Worlds Apart, into a short film, and will explore Kevin’s life as a young boy growing up on the spectrum.

Kerry McManus who runs the Plymouth parent support group,Make a Difference,  also posed the question, that she has a 12 year old son with additional needs who is being bullied at a mainstream school, she asked what should she do.

Kevin replied:

“The parents need to ask the school if they have a bullying policy in place, if not they need one in place as soon as possible.”

Kevin then goes on to say, that parents need to communicate with the staff, and that they need to  take action if the matter is  not resolved. He then explained about how he was bullied at school and that his parents went into the school to chat to the Headteacher. They told that if the bullying did not stop then they would remove Kevin and his older  brother from the school. The following day, Kevin cheerfully told that in Assembly, the Headteacher explained that there was to be no further bullying towards Kevin, and if the bullies continued they would be removed from the school. Fortunately the bullying did stop.

Taken from Facebook
Taken from Facebook

After the interview with Kevin Healey they then went on to interview,  Kerry McManus, a mum of a child with autism. She spoke about the reason of why she decided to set up Make a Difference. She explained that after her son’s diagnosis, that took 5 years, she felt that the whole process made her feel isolated and lonely and that people did not understand her situation or her son as he  does not look disabled. She also spoke about how she is stil fighting to gain help for her son and herself as a carer.

The feedback she has received from other parents relays how they feel less alone and that they are supported while going through the whole diagnosis process.

To hear more about Kerry and her Make a Difference group in Plymouth you can visit her Facebook page here.

The show then ended with the song, ‘Ordinary‘ from BritRoyal, who Sharon tells are loyal supporters of the campaign. You can follow them on Facebook and twitter.

You can listen to the full show below

You can also follow the campaign on twitter and Facebook.


About the author 

Jo Worgan

Jo Worgan is a published author, writer and blogger. She has a degree in English Literature. She writes about life with her youngest son who is on the autistic spectrum. Jo tweets (@mummyworgan) and is also a freelance columnist for the Lancaster Guardian. ‘My Life with Tom, Living With Autism‘ is her second book and a culmination of her blog posts, and available on Kindle now, along with her first book, Life on the Spectrum. The Preschool years.

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