Author Archive

PROJECT ASPIE 2 APRIL 2020 / WORLD AUTISM AWARENESS DAY

SO SO massively THRILLED  to have been invited by the founder of Project Aspie, the incredible Graeme Croton to be a guest speaker at this special event to celebrate World Autism Awareness Day. This prestigious event will bring together people of all ages, backgrounds, professions and regions to speak and share.

The event will take place at Somerset House, 37 Temple Street, Birmingham, B2 5DP on Thursday 2 April 2020 from 6pm until 8pm BST and your FREE tickets can be booked here.

The evening will be focusing on “People’s stories celebrating Asperger’s and Autism Awareness as well as autism lived experience and the positives of mental strength and Neurodiversity and Inclusion in the workplace.” 

“This event will feature Special Guests and Special Guest Speakers who do amazing work within the community.”

Project Aspie is an award winning organisation who do such tireless, amazing and valuable work geared towards raising the profile of people with Asperger’s Syndrome and Autism within the community.

Founded by Graeme Croton who had a late diagnosis of autism in July 2010 when he was 25 years old, Project Aspie was initially an award winning advocacy and support website which went from strength to strength in a very short period of time, with TV and radio interviews and events to name just a few.

Project Aspie was created to “improve and inspire people with Aspergers and Autism to live healthy and independent lives within the community.” Graeme and his team are “committed and dedicated to see an autism friendly environment in employment, education and independent living.” Their simple ethos is that Project Aspie is run by people with autism “to inspire others with autism.” Their motto is “Everything is possible but without willpower there is nothing” and I absolutely agree!

I am particularly delighted and excited because Graeme and his organisation view autism and other different/special abilities in the exact same way I do; not as a separate ‘population’ but as an integral and important part of our community, our world… this multi talented shared population where all voices should be heard and all different ways of thinking to be encouraged, included and celebrated. So many ideas and inventions, groundbreaking music, art and writing have come from those whose brains are “wired differently”. As I have said before in my many blogs and talks, this is not a “global autism crisis” but rather an extraordinary learning opportunity which we should embrace to move our world forwards: to  make a difference to the future we shall one day leave behind.

Graeme and Project Aspie can be contacted on 0121 312 0587 or at graeme@projectaspie.org.uk

Their website can be found at https://projectaspie.org

AutismandUsPodcast Interview Friday 28th February 2020

Very excited about my interview with the wonderful AutismandUsPodcast at 1pm on Friday 28th February 2020.

For those of you who don’t manage to catch it, a link to it will be appearing here very shortly !

It is always such an enormous and uncontainable joy to me to be getting our very special children heard and to tell the world about how different is never less…. and actually so often more!  Our children have a right to be valued,grown, included and their potential nurtured to its absolute fullest!

UK INDIAN HEAD MASSAGE COMMUMITY SEMINAR October 2020

What an immense joy to be invited along to the UK Indian Head Massage Community annual seminar on Saturday 17th October 2020.

As a Specialist on the team I have been asked to join the guest panel on the day to help and share with everyone as much as possible. It is always the most incredible and valuable day so I am very much looking forward  looking forward to meeting both old and new faces .

 

See you there …. more details to follow once I have the link !!

Anna Kennedy Online’s Ambassador Event : Neurodiversity Youth Summit

Siena Castellon, one of Anna Kennedy Online’s Ambassadors is hosting an event on Monday 16th March 2020.

It is the Neurodiversity Youth Summit at City Hall, Queen’s Walk,London Bridge. SE1 2AA from 4pm – 6.30pm .The summit is all about celebrating and embracing neurodiverse strengths such as autism, ADHD,dyslexia, dyspraxia and Tourettes. She has kindly invited to showcase some of Autism’s Got Talent’s performers there and our Ollie has been invited following his incredible performance in October 2019. Woooooooooohoooooooo !!!!!!!!! So proud !!!!!!

 

Free tickets are available on Eventbrite

www.Neurodiversity-Celebration_week.Com

EXCITING INVITATION !

I am so SO happy to share with you all that Mary Atkinson and Amy Taylor have invited me to be part of the UK Indian Head Massage Community as a Specialist on the team!!!!

This is such rewarding and joyful news to have my passionate work of the past nine years valued by such respected leaders in the field. I look forward to embracing all the opportunities this will bring and to work hard as part of a very special community who help so many whilst learning and growing continually within that.

ANNA KENNEDY ONLINE AUTISM EXPO – BRUNEL UNIVERSITY, MARCH 28th 2020

Words cannot describe just HOW EXCITED I am to have been invited by Anna Kennedy OBE to Brunel University on 28th March 2020 as a guest speaker! Anna has also asked me to run clinics in the afternoon so that people can experience my work first hand.

I am worried that I might actually spontaneously combust before the day! I cannot WAIT to share my journey, work and message as a mother, author, specialist therapist and public speaker at such a prestigious event – but also to learn from everyone else there.

Most of all I am so looking forward to continuing to work alongside others towards getting our children seen, heard, supported and valued. Click on the image below for more information!

Autism’s Got Talent Ruislip,London 12th October 2019

Autism’s Got Talent, Ruislip  2019 …. a night I will never forget and will carry with me to my last breath.

Watching my son, who by this time next year will be more qualified than the head of English teacher and her team who categorically told me that Ollie “would never achieve more than two GCSE’s “due to his autism (and who removed English literature from him as well as the higher GCSE paper in English) , reading out his poetry to an audience of hundreds where you could have literally heard a pin drop, really brought home our journey.

Each of the three poems Ollie read were met with thunderous applause that felt like it would lift off the very roof. I couldn’t believe my eyes or ears. As I peeked out through the wings on stage I could see people wiping their tears. People back stage were crying and I was crying too because I cannot believe all my son has achieved through so much, both at home and school, to become the gentle, kind, incredibly talented , giant of a man he is today.

I don’t think my heart will ever return to its normal size after this.

 

Ollie read some poetry from his first anthology “Lungs” about some of the horrific domestic abuse he both saw and then later experienced directly, prompting our departure from such a toxic atmosphere. He also read a poem from his second anthology “Wings” which is “a collection where Ollie reflects on the domestic abuse of his mother and the family , becoming a space where vulnerabilities and hope are explored in the butterfly transformations of his mother. ” The anthology is dedicated to me and simply says “For my Mum,who always taught me to find my song”.

Anna Kennedy OBE kindly invited Ollie to sell his books on the evening. It all felt so surreal seeing my son who I have advocated for all his life, now advocating for others by taking part in such a impactful event.

 

Each act, each unique , strong, beautiful human being ,was so powerful and gifted that Ollie said to me during rehearsals that he didn’t feel adequate by comparison. My heart went out to him as this message is one he has had for so long from so many. The chilling fact is that each of these kids’ stories could have been so entirely different if they hadn’t had someone believing in them. And half of them,including Ollie, almost ended up not being here at all after being driven to suicidal thoughts and attempts when their gifts went unheard along with their voices.

After the show Ollie pulled me to one side away from the crowds, and very quietly said “Mum, for the first time in my life I feel a tiny bit proud.”

Yes – I did cry again …buckets,! It had taken Ollie 22 years , a Degree and participating in Autism’s Got Talent to at last feel of worth.

 

I feel even more strongly than ever that Autism’s Got Talent should be on mainstream TV, played at school assemblies and absolutely incorporated into teacher training. If only they could be made aware of how when you tap into that special ability and find what I call their super power …. these kids FLY !  Thank you to Anna Kennedy OBE ,Phil Barnett, Steven Smith,Dawn Avery Lisa Robins and all of Anna’s hard working team and ambassadors for getting all our special children heard.

 

Following the inundation of emails and messages I received after the show, here are copies of the three poems which Ollie read out. The actual footage of him reading them out at the show can be found on my Therapies For Special Needs FB business page, YouTube and Anna Kennedy Online.

 

Straight Jacket Of Flies


You feel them tug free sometimes: horseflies,

botflies,craneflies,fruit flies,picture-winged flies –

the ensemble is fear.It must feel horrible,

knowing that wherever you go,they will

surely follow.This is how we felt father

when you bugged us, to the point where my chest

would tighten if the phone rang – you’d

be in the background listening to every word.

You set up this landscape of fear for me:

now you’re living it.Every waking moment you tremor

at the nail varnish colours of their thoraxes.

Their stirring reminds you too much of the new baby you left

that night to take a flight to Indonesia.

It’s crying out for a father went unheard,

Mother slept with it that night ,crying over it’s head.

The flies keep you busy, falsifying albums

of our so-called ‘privileged life’ as evidence

for Crown Court.The botflies remember;

looping their milky eggs in your scalp.Mother had

a flower pot business and taught French as a private tutor

to keep her family from going homeless.

Now, horseflies crowd in around your eyes,

turning the eye sockets inside-out.You had money

that you spent at hotels with mystery women

you were having affairs with.

You have nothing now.

The flies know.

 

Under The Wheels


The night you left The White Horse pub

with father,he pushed you through

the car door. Heft up inches

from the asphalt and the road

darting away like a massive

tarmac arrow.You were flightless

as you scooped your knees

and laddered your tights on the road.

He dangles you by a string of air.

He says, “You’re having an affair with John”. The recoiling ferns and gridded

oaks’ boughs at at he wayside put

their ears to your complaints; ‘Let me go,

let me go’. Then a tough wind blew

up a sail of your dress and you could

feel the cold in your bones.

You tried to kiss the unbearable gravel

like it was holy soil. Father rose over you

with gritted teeth ,roaring at you,

ravined V-lines veins set the tension

in his forehead as he bent

his face to yours. You will never

forget that night or that look

in his eyes.

 

The Joker 


My father stepped on my back so hard,why so hard?

A loveless chain of thorns he strung on each of our necks.

The false purples cancelling out the crimean flush in our chests,

like the love that was traded in, for the malice he wreaked.

 

Its vine decaying the good ores of virtue I have in my flesh vessel

that vessel

Your vessel no more.

 

“Dad,why are you waiting on the stairs at night?

What is that black box you clutch to your chest

like an unseasoned Pandora’s box? Small,

ticking silently in its mechanical heart.

A past fever pumped in my veins like a concealed guilt.

 

I knew, you knew, of the lies you’d built inside.

The treacherous glee you hide but show in your cold blue eyes.

A hoar frost dissolving on the tongue of an adder

tasted with self-glorifying ill-will.

When a boy of 17 tells his father to stop lying,

his father’s eyes crinkle as small as sunflower seeds,

as though he’d got a sour taste of lie in his mouth.

 

He told me these words, opening his jack-knife smile,

“I could never lie to you, I wouldn’t hurt you like that ” he’d say anxiously.

Never is a hyperbolic word.

NEVER.

NE-VER.

Never.

 

 

I let out an inward gasp; the sound a balloon makes

when popped by a needle.

Or the balloon that my border terrier burst through

to bite with salivating maul the soft skin of my shoulder.

 

No,no,no, this object: spike, steak, spear

has pricked me in solitude ,when I should be

waiting in the corridors of my house,

listening for pretend coughing, the kitchen tap running,

the slow breathing on the walls, is this all inside my head ?

 

You tell me if you are talking to someone behind a closed door

and someone is listening outside :

does something feel funny about the air ?

how it lies thick, pregnant and obscure in your oesophagus.

 

My father will talk of how he met (trapped) my mother;

red peacock butterflies in a jam jar,

leaving her in the enclosure of cling film and glass.

In these transparencies of space

the butterfly could only glimpse the wasting powders on her wings.

A lidded sky,housetop,every morning and night is shut,

the edges of a face looms in the sky,

says come out, spread your wings.

Is it the Joker or the moon, that this seems to sing ?


 

 

 

 

Autism’s Got Talent St Ives June 2019

A night I will never forget.

Inspirational suddenly feels like such an overused word.

I’ve never got through so many tissues in one night .

Ever.

What moved me so much was the overriding common theme that each of the incredibly talented performers had been written written off by doctors , teachers and other professionals from as early as two years old.

Just like my own son.

 

How different their stories would all be now had it not been for someone believing in them and fighting so hard for them to become all they can possibly be.

The strength and determination against all the odds by the children themselves is a journey I deeply recognise and I was blown away by each and every one of them. For the first time in my own life I felt I belonged too as I listened to the stories of other parents and their own children. It felt like a family; an extraordinary feeling I have never had anywhere else. It was extremely powerful to feel all our voices together and to feel the energy behind each performance. It was very emotional.

Meeting Anna Kennedy OBE, someone I have longed to talk with for so long, really feeling her sincerity,motivation, drive and passion was also something I recognised and it was humbling and uplifting all at once.

The whole experience confirmed to me why we do all the crazy hours we do for these kids who deserve to grow, to thrive and to be included in our society.

Alfie’s Blog

From the mouths of babes…here is what little Alfie has to say. This was sent to me recently and I have asked Alfie to send me blogs whenever he wants to as a form of a diary, a way to have a voice and to educate others.

So …. Introducing Alfie …

 

“Autism is hard to live with but it also makes me really happy because it makes me more driven to do things like my art and comedy although it can make me distracted at times ,some people at school don’t understand and make fun of me for it. That is hard to deal with. It can make me really anxious and upset when my brain can’t process things that worry me. It helps me to focus on things that interest me to the point of becoming an obsession. I get nervous about new situations because I don’t know what to expect,e.g will it be noisy,crowded,will I be pushed or touched or if someone has spray-on deodorant and sprays mean I won’t be able to breathe. Will people look at me strangely and will I understand their faces ? Will they like me ?”

 

My diagnoses: ASD,anxiety/phobia,sensory processing issues, learning difficulties, vocal ticks, fine and gross motor skills problems ,dyslexia, joint hyper mobility,coeliac disease.

 

Alfie is in mainstream school and the continual fight to be heard and valued in the correct way are never ending.This impacts Alfie dreadfully as well as the whole family . He has periods where he has had to be home schooled when the bullying or lack of academic support has become too overwhelming. However he continues to have his voice through his gifts of art and comedy which help to get him through., just as words,writing and books became my own son’s world.

I wish blogs like this could be given as a mandatory part of teacher training.

 

Gateway 97.8FM Radio Interview with Anna Kennedy OBE and Aston Avery 1st August 2019

Podcast from this interview has now been posted and is below for you to listen to:

I was really so humbled and touched to be asked onto Aston Avery’s and Anna Kennedy’s “All Things Autism In Essex” broadcasting on the Gateway 97.8FM Radio show from 10AM-1PM on Thursday 1st August! Gateway 97.8 is an award-winning radio station with the Prime Minister’s Big Society and Queen’s Award. They can also be followed on Twitter @Gateway978.

Aston and his family have inspired me for quite some time. They truly touch my heart and are the strongest and most motivational family.Aston has had to deal with so much in his life, including autism,and like myself with my own son, his family refused to accept the invisible cage bars of ignorance, negative assumptions and the limited, restricted beliefs of others, including professionals. Aston is living proof, like my son Ollie, of busting the myths surrounding autism and growing into his full potential as well as lighting a flame for others. I am full of awe and admiration. Whenever I have a tough day, it is families like this who ensure I never give up,to brush the dust from my feet and continue to walk strongly. This is why we all do what we do, so tirelessly and with absolute unswerving conviction.

Aston and his family have used their life’s journey and experiences to help others in so many immeasurable ways. Aston is an Anna Kennedy Online Ambassador, fundraiser, DJ, presenter, singer, dancer and actor… all achievements no one ever thought possible. He has also won the NDA Award for disability.

 

For the first time ever in any interview I’ve ever given I became emotional .

It was also the first time I discussed at any length the full picture of what was going on for us as a family at home against which my son’s journey with autism was being played out.

As I talked about catching sight of Ollie through the doorway where he was being robed up ready for his graduation, suddenly seeing in fast motion all the chapters of our lives which had led to this moment, I really knew and felt so deeply in my heart what a giant my son is … and I just crumpled because the love and immense awe and pride I felt were just too big for my little body !

Please tune in to this incredible and informative show where Autism is given a voice from those who really know the journey from the inside out and who celebrate each unique individual behind the label.