Autism Hero Award Winner Giuliana Wheater BA Hons Exon, MCMA college/teacher member, is a multi-award winning complementary therapist, author with Jessica Kingsley Publishing, teacher, trainer ,prolific public speaker, passionate campaigner,educator,advocate and fundraiser.
She is also the founder of Rainbow Kids Touch Therapy and Relaxation which has been recognised as a Learning Destination by the Children’s University.
Giuliana is also one of five Specialists on the team for the UK Indian Head Massage Community and is the Wellbeing Ambassador for Anna Kennedy Online Charity.
Giuliana’s work and trainings are an officially recognised Centre Of Excellence with the CMA .
She was given a Founders 4 Schools award for her charity work within schools in deprived areas in November 2021 and has also won a Community Award .
Giuliana has been featured in the Daily Mail, Daily Mirror and The Sun, The Western Daily Press, FHT (Federation Of Holistic Therapists) International Therapist magazine, SEN magazine, Autism Eye (where she is a regular contributor ) , Autism Parenting, Exceptional Needs Magazine, Parenting Impossible, Optimum Nutrition, Closer Magazine, Bath Life, Somerset Life, Exmoor Magazine, the Complementary Medical Association Magazine and writes weekly articles accompanied by YouTube videos for annakennedyonline autism charity.
She has given several radio interviews to BBC Radio and interviews with Anna Kennedy OBE Women’s Radio, Gateway FM radio show as well as to local radio stations on several occasions, Autismandus Podcast , AutismTalk, UK Health Radio and Oasis online Radio show and multiple podcasts as well as Cable TV.(See In The Press)
In February 2022 she was presented with a Certificate of Achievment by the National Diversity Awards after being shortlisted out of 55,000 nominees as a Positive Role Model for 2021.
Mother to a son on the autistic spectrum she has worked with therapies for almost all her adult life. Having had a very ‘interesting’ life ,where at times she knew and felt directly what it was like to “have no voice”, she has advocated and fought for her son; something she now uses to help bring real hope to other children, adults and their families.
She blended several different therapies in which she is trained, proven neurological and scientific research, instinct and years of experience into a very refined and specialised head massage when her son hit an extremely difficult time in his life. He has suffered from debilitating OCD and when his needs went unnoticed and unsupported within a one size fits all mainstream system, he plummeted so badly that he developed mental health issues for a while and entered a terrifying period of his life where he was drowning with no voice and no expectations. In spite of his noticeable high intelligence and obvious gifts , he was surrounded, as so many are in mainstream schools, by a total lack of expectation. There was very much the prevailing attitude of ‘special needs equals stupid’, an attitude that is wholly untrue and unfair. In spite of being in gifted and talented for English at Middle School, Ollie had his voice removed and his dreams crushed at High School when he was plunged without warning into bottom set English language and English literature completely removed. Ollie’s future dreams of studying English at university were destroyed, as well as his present. Words were his world.
By internalising this pain, fear and broken heart, he became temporarily very unwell and entered a very frightening period of his life. Giuliana refused to stop believing in her son and began to fight. She fought hard for funding,taking it to the very top – but this funding was legally spent elsewhere. She then sent his work to every author and poet she could find as well as taking him to literary festivals where he would read his poems. Every author wrote back telling Ollie he was a writer already and not to let the mainstream system define him.
Thanks to his trust in her and his bravery and feedback, she came up with the method which has seen her take it to schools all over Somerset , then further afield, registering it with the Complementary Medical Association and training others not just nationally but internationally.
On the back of this, Giuliana then spent several years developing Rainbow Kids Touch Therapy and Relaxation which led to her work and therapy/training chalet being recognised as a Learning Destination with the Children’s University in March 2019.
Both she and all ” her Rainbow Kids” were also presented with the “Junior Best Practice Award” in March 2020 by the Founders of Story Massage… only the THIRD ever practitioner to be awarded this out of 3000 Story Massage Instructors , with her “Rainbows” being the FIRST EVER children to win such a prestigious award !!! This was followed by a Best Practice Award in November 2020.
Rainbow Kids uses a whole range of methodologies and activities which help to “access’ the world of any young person and help them to thrive and feel included. This includes children and young people with a whole spectrum of mental health challenges, PMLD, cerebral palsy, children in wheelchairs, as well as deaf,blind or mute children. As well as working within specialised groups of young people ,Giuliana will very often work within mixed ability groups, including ‘neurotypical’ children where everyone leaves feeling the best at something and everyone feels included. Rainbow Kids has grown so much that it is now taken into schools nationwide.
Ollie found his voice again and gained eleven A to C GCSE’s against almost impossible odds and three A-levels A* to B ,going on to gain a degree at his first choice university. His confidence has mended and he is a whole, happy ,unique and valuable human being with extraordinary strength and tenacity. His gifts, strengths and abilities have grown and bloomed more than anyone could have dreamed of . The road was long, frustrating,hard and heartbreaking at times, with Giuliana learning as she went along. The path was never, ever straight so the life skills learned and the refusal to give up, to celebrate each tiny positive step, have been building blocks for life.
This is why Giuliana works so hard through her therapies and by believing in every person she touches, to help them find their voices again. She maintains to this day that the children and adults she works with are her biggest teachers . It only takes one adult to believe in a child, to understand them, and their life can be so different. we all have gifts,strengths and challenges – but each unique human being has abilities too,whatever label they might carry.
Ollie has since graduated from Bath Spa university with a degree in Creative Writing and Publishing and has just completed his unconditional offer of Masters in Creative Writing.Ironically,he is now more qualified than the teachers who told me he would “never achieve.” He has read his poetry at gigs to raise money for autism and after seeing me advocate all his life for him, Ollie is now advocating for himself and others. He has also published two poetry anthologies,”Lungs” and “Wings” and appeared on Autism’s Got Talent with Anna Kennedy OBE in Ruislip,London in October 2019. There he read some of his poetry to an audience where you could have heard a pin drop and he finished to uproarious applause. Ollie was one of 17 outstandingly gifted performers whose lives could have ended up so very differently. The “boy who will never achieve” is currently studying for a PhD.
Giuliana writes prolific blogs and articles , advocating for those with different abilities and sharing her personal journey as well as her professional one. She runs regular courses, talks,workshops and trainings both in the UK and abroad in a way that everyone can access, regardless of income or ability. She has trained organisations such as MIND, Special Yoga, the UK Indian Head Massage Community,Brainwave Children’s Charity and ADHD, ASC & LD Belgium. She now trains staff and teachers in mainstream and specialist schools and colleges in her therapies.
She is a public,motivational ,keynote speaker and advocate who has given talks and webinars all over the world to organisations and charities such as the ADHD, ASC & LD Belgium ,Autism Expo, The Indian Head Massage Community , Special Yoga, POA Learning and ADHD Unlocked to name just a few. Many of the public speaking events and seminars she has spoken at have been freely given just because she so believes in getting these children seen and heard beyond their labels and is her way of “giving back” to the wonderful and able people she works with every day.
She also trains groups of parents, carers and professionals privately and works extensively with families,cared for children and young adults as well as adoption services. Giuliana is a huge believer that her therapies are always growing as she insists on being herself in a perpetual state of learning and growth.
Giuliana has a wealth of experience working with the autistic spectrum, SEN registers in schools from dyslexia, dyspraxia and a whole range of learning differences, mental health challenges, eating disorders, OCD, behavioural issues, emotional trauma, PTSD, depression, anxiety, psychosis, Tourette’s, insomnia, selective mutism, Downs Syndrome and alopecia.
Giuliana gained a degree in French and History from Exeter University, before spending a year after her graduation working for magazines at Conde Nast Publications. She has written all her life since childhood. For nearly all her adult life she has been a fully qualified complementary therapist gaining an indian head massage diploma in 2006 and becoming a Reiki master teacher with the UK Reiki Federation in 2005 and going on to train in Special Yoga, mindfulness, play therapy, art therapy, sound therapy, sensory play, story massage, meditation , aromatherapy, colour and mood therapy amongst other trainings .
What Giuliana found in the course of her work is that very often “special needs” is often seen as “stupid” or “less”.
In her experience, Giuliana has found the very opposite to be true. She feels the most gifted and interesting people she has ever met are amongst the young people on her books.Different is never less. She takes pride and joy in the fact that within mainstream schools where children are referred to her as labels, she hands them back as young people with voices and gifts. She works very much with them rather than on them.
She feels so strongly about this, that as her work has grown as an author and public speaker, and her training sessions have begun to take her all over the world, she has decided to train up some of the young people she works on within schools by offering apprenticeships so that they can take over the work from her. She empowers everybody she works with and has a tremendous rapport and understanding of the young people she works with . As she says, ” I can give somebody all my wisdom but the compassion to reach out and meet others where they are at rather than where you want them to be requires belief,compassion and a deeper listening and these kids I’ve worked with have that in spades. They know what it’s like to feel they have no voice, to be surrounded by low expectations. They deserve a voice, a chance at a future with all it’s potential.”
Her talks, trainings ,articles and books are every bit as much about giving people a voice as well as opening them up, melting their barriers, gaining their trust and helping them to find their gifts. Young people are about so much more than school and academics. They are full of gifts. They are our future. What we put into them sows the seeds for what we are creating for our world in the future.
Her dream would be to set up a therapy programme in every school, particularly mainstream, where the one size fits all system discriminates against so many and ignores the many other gifts we all have which school has not got the time to tap into. The whole person should be nurtured and grown to their full potential whether they are neurotypical or neurodivergent.
To see some of Ollie’s early years poetry, please click here.