DELIGHTED to have been invited by Magdalena Landziak, Editor of AMYGDALA Magazine to write an article about Inclusion and what that really means if you are neurodivergent.
AMYGDALA Magazine is the first NATIONAL Magazine for Special Needs Assistants (SNA’s)
We are all in this together and it is just wonderful to be educating and
advocating in the heart of those who care for our children every day.
The February Issue covers Assistive Technology, Sign Language in a school setting, Neuroaffirmative language and the Interception Approach amongst other important topics.
This is exactly the sort of publication which should be in every school!
Click on the link below to read the first page of my article:
INCLUSION : MINDSET OR PRIVILEGE ?
SO SO PROUD to share with you all that on this incredibly special evening I was given an Autism Hero Award !!!
When I began this journey I was a woman who had had no voice at all for 17 years.
As a Mum to 4 neurodiverse children, 2 of whom are on the autism spectrum,I was fighting for them to be heard,supported,valued and included.
That journey,particularly with my son Ollie,birthed the work I do today.
I realised that what was happening to him, exclusion on all sorts of levels,horrific bullying and a total lack of expectation from his school,was happening to children and young adults not just in the UK but all over the world.
Our journey became one I absolutely needed to share with others,whether that was advice,knowledge,information,therapy sessions,endless blogs,magazine articles,interviews,seminars,webinars,prolific free public speaking,a youtube channel and a large public Facebook group set up during Covid when as a therapist I nearly lost everything,as well as taking my training into schools,charities and organisations all over the world.
I have never given up,whatever else is going on in my life.
I never will.
I just want to give,do and be more and more and more so that I can help these kids bloom into their full potential.
I never ever ever in 1000 billion years expected the life that has since happened to me.
This is my Desriny.
I will never stop this work,this passion,this belief – and to educate and advocate for long needed change,acceptance and true inclusion.
When I was awarded the Autism Hero Award by Dr Anna Kennedy OBE for the Charity Supporter of the year,I had ni idea that I had even been nominated or was in the running.
I was busy sharing the event all over my social media platforms and on here to celebrate all the incredible,selfless,tireless and dedicated heroes who are ALL making change happen.
Little did I know !!!
I did cry when I found out and I haven’t cried for myself in 9 years.But it was good crying !
As someone who has been behind others for 20+ years,cheering them on,believing in them unswervingly,shouting until all voices are heard and helping to grow all the delicious potential I see in every single unique human being I am honoured to meet, I am just used to being in the background.
Anna made me feel a million dollars….
Winning this award is priceless.
Anna made me feel seen and heard for the first time in all my adult life.
I couldn’t be prouder to be part of the AKO family – a genuine charity with integrity and a pure big heart.
To hear more about the awards ceremony please visit my YouTube link below :
Autism Hero Awards
Organised by the fabulous Anna Kennedy OBE, all the ambassadors and patrons of the charity recorded or photographed themselves dancing and wrote how dancing makes them feel. In fact everyone whoever and wherever you are, are invited on the last Friday of every April to celebrate the Step In The Right Direction Autism Dance Day.Large numbers of special needs and mainstream schools are encouraged to organise dance events to raise funds for Autism. In its first year the charity received UNESCO Patronage.
I even had a little sing too!
One of my poor sons was laughing at how I begin my working day!!
He had the very trying job of choosing the best behaved photos… always a tricky one where I’m concerned !!!
And all before going to school!
We all know the positive benefits of dance for those with autism.
Anyone can join in whether they’re autistic, live or work with autistic people or simply to have fun and raise money for this wonderful cause.
Dancing is one of my HUGE “guilty” pleasures. To the point that I actually keep a pair of silver dancing shoes at the foot of my stairs because I never know when the moment will seize me!
This is how dancing makes me feel …
“Ever since I was a tiny girl I’ve seen the world and people in colours. Yellow is the ultimate for me as it means total joy. When I dance I feel bright yellow,free and I’m just undiluted Giuliana.”
Click on the charity website link below and click on the Autism Dance Day tab on the “Campaigns” section of the menu where you will find Anna and all the team dancing for autism and saying how it makes them feel too ….
Anna Kennedy Online
Ever since he was tiny my youngest son has had music coursing through his veins.
He lives and breathes it.
His dreams of music production and passion for music however have been crushed and destroyed for the last two years by someone, an adult who should know better, who has negatively targeted him on a continual basis.
I have watched my son just get slowly vacuum packed and sad. He almost gave up music GCSE several times in a class that sank from 22 to just 11 students.
Many thanks to Charles’ private music teacher Phil Keenan who has re-ignited that soul flame within my boy and to Steve Felton and Nigel Heath for turning that flame into a volcano of joy,goals and hope by helping me to visit Abbey Road studios and spend some time in Studio 2 where The Beatles, Oasis and Madonna amongst hundreds of others have recorded.
Charles was so engaged and expressed himself in his beautiful unfiltered way, touching everyone around him so much that he has been invited back later this coming Summer. A wonderful Radio DJ Zoe Hart picked up on this story and has personally invited Charles up for a jamming session and to visit her studio.
No one should ever try to destroy another person,especially a young person with everything to live for.
And who has already been through so much.It’s called bullying and is never acceptable.
So get out there,fight your child’s corner, especially if they are neurodiverse and unseen – and help their dreams come true.
Impossible always equals I’m Possible.
Never stop believing.
World Autism Acceptance Day was spent with AnaKennedyOnline Autism Charity, Born Anxious models and Merlin’s Magic Wand at Madam Tussaud’s in central London this year.
I took along my youngest son Charles because I adore involving my family in my passionate work and bringing them up to never stop believing that anything is possible, and to live fully inclusive lives.
Once again, the Born Anxious children and adults, many of whom are Anna Kennedy Online ambassadors just like myself,hit the catwalk once again.
I even had a little go on the runway thanks to the help of my dear friend, partner in crime and fellow ambassador Jo Wiggins Anand.
Think my son may have left his imprint in the wall he was trying to squash himself into with embarrassment !!
Huge fun was had by all and it was a beautiful way to celebrate Autism as well as to raise awareness and acceptance.
We still have such a long,long way to go however and I would love to re-name this day Autism Education Day because accceptance feels like paying lip service to a condition that lasts a lifetime and not simply a day.
Luckily I have a long life to keep shouting from the rooftops along with many others until true education and support happens so that ALL our children and young adults can reach their full potential.
Wow !!! What a night !!!
What a beautiful venue at the Liverpool Anglican Cathedral in a city I have fallen madly in love with !
I have met the most beautiful human beings who are making such a difference to this world and I know I have made some friends for life .
CONGRATULATIONS to all the well deserving winners. I would have hated to have been a judge !! It was passionately electrifying to be in a room amongst leaders and pioneers . I shall be absolutely buzzing unbearably with energy and even more motivation for weeks !! It all still feels like a dream that I was even there, nominated and shortlisted.
ITV news and other sponsors were all there and even had my photo taken on my first ever red carpet. ( I normally hoover carpets, not have my picture taken on them !! )
I am SO PROUD to have been awarded a Certificate of Achievment as a shortlisted Positive Role Model at this great National Event which was live streamed from YouTube as well as the National Diversity Awards website. I am particularly proud of being shortlisted out of a whopping 50,000 nominees because this for me was always about the children and young adults I work with and do such extensive charity work, public speaking and advocating for – the unique, ABLE and incredible people whom I have watched grow their wings and find their voices and strengths – these people with no voices whom I work with, learn from and fight so hard for.
This shortlist nomination will remain on the National Diversity Website for the next FIVE years !!
It was also overwhelming and strange but also very emotional to feel seen for the first time as myself in over twenty years.
I have absolute dedication to getting others seen and heard ; but I have never,ever thought about being seen as me, Giuliana . I am always surrounded by people and just intensely focused on doing all I can to bring about real change for them , for us All.
I never expected nor have ever looked for the incredible experiences and opportunities I have had along this journey. I am still pinching myself.
A mother to four neurodiverse children, my journey with my autistic son Ollie in particular ,we were often left for weeks or even months at a time trying to survive well below the breadline, enduring ever intensifying domestic abuse on every level, including having our home saturated with illegal spyware and cameras. My work bag and car would be tracked as would my children’s bags if they ever went to see friends or girlfriends. I was dragged from a speeding car by my coat collar when it was discovered I was writing my book ; I was accused of everything you could possible imagine. I began this work with just £50 in my pocket and a badly broken foot ( I had invented the job as no one was working with autistic children at that time in this way as far as the CMA knew) .
I still managed to somehow keep it not just going, but growing ,through two Crown Court hearings and a High Court Hearing where my ex husband’s custodial sentence of 21 years , which had been broken down into 4 concurrent sentences which had brought it down to six and a half years, was challenged by him.
I had even dropped my own charges in a “deal breaker” plea from the defence barrister , to protect my children.
This was unanimously refused by the three judges.
Then COVID hit us all and I had to learn rapidly in order to protect a business based around touch and to keep my message growing.
I have achieved all of this totally on my own, no team, no staff, no sets of volunteers , no backing of any sort …. I was the only one there in this situation.
So for once in my life I really do feel the hugest pride and emotion in being awarded my certificate.
I will use this to be and do even more, even if I break myself, because I love and believe in what I do and things need to change for ANYONE who doesn’t have a voice or basic human rights.
Labels, colours, sexual orientation, gender, culture or creed …
We all bleed red.
We all need to be included.
We all have a right to be heard.
So an enormous, enormous, ENORMOUS heartfelt thank you to ALL of you who have cheered me on, kept me strong and believed in me during this incredible first experience. ThAnk you again to Tess Eagle Swan of KRATU fame for nominating me in the first place and to Anna Kennedy OBE for supporting me on the night. What a a beautiful time to have shared.
I will never forget it and know that this is the platform I needed to TURN UP THE VOLUME until we are ALL heard, valued and included.
Click on the link below to the whole evening for those of you who missed the live streaming of the evening and would like to see the event:
I did make a special YouTube video on my channel to say how I felt about this incredible Awards ceremony. It’s not very long but absolutely captures what this whole evening and my certificate mean to me .
Please click on the link below if you would like to see it.
It’s here !!!!!!!!!!!!
Just received the live YouTube link to this coming Friday’s NATIONAL DIVERSITY AWARDS ….. only 3 more sleeps as I write ( or in my case 3 non-sleeps as it is so overwhelming !! ) to go …….
All I know is there are truly TRULY so many incredibly inspiring and dedicated shortlisted nominees ,that whoever wins will thoroughly deserve it.
I have been in touch with a few of them and they are awe inspiring. So I shall be on a HUGE unbearable buzz for months after meeting them all !!!!
Thank you to ALL of you for all your votes, encouragement and support along this journe, and to Tess Eagle Swan for nominating me. Thankyou Anna Kennedy OBE for coming along to support me at honestly THE single most amazing thing ( apart from the births of my children ) that has EVER happened to me.
AAAAAAAAARRRRRRGGGGGHHHHH !! Don’t know what to do with myself !!!!
Just absolutely delighted to have been given this Contributor’s Award for having written for the absolutely inspiring and gold medal award winning Exceptional Needs magazine, published by Lone Heron Publishing.
My article about the scientifically proven power of touch for the neurodiverse ,along with tips and techniques, appears in this free online magazine which is filled with over 25 articles including insightful and very helpful pieces written by Dr Temple Grandin and Dr Debra Moore. I am doubly thrilled and honoured to be featured alongside such esteemed and respected contributors whose work I have followed and respected for many years.
This FREE online magazine is packed to BURSTING with tips, advice and resources, not just for the neurodiverse but for families, teachers, doctors, therapists and educators too.
Please click on the link below to view my article which appears in Issue 6 and please FREELY subscribe. I already have – and it is just so full of support, knowledge, ideas and belief. It helps reduce those terrible feelings that those of us with neurodiverse families can so often feel. And please share with anyone to whom you feel it would be a great tool moving forwards! I am so proud to be a part of something so inclusive, positive, powerful and useful !
Thank you Amy Tobik, Editor, for inviting me on board !
I was so thrilled to be sent this Role Model Badge by the charity Founders 4 Schools which I can now use freely on my website and all social media. It was awarded for all my work within schools, particularly those in deprived areas.
Having a positive role model is 1 of the 8 building blocks of resilience.
Often where I go there is such a lack of expectation,ambition and belief. So I take my own very real and often relatable life cards such as fighting for my autistic son as well as surviving horrendous levels of domestic abuse and I share what is needed to show that WHOEVER you are and WHATEVER your label, you are worthy and deserve a seat at the table; to be included and to have opportunities.
I am a very ordinary woman who BELIEVED and who made a life and a career.
This work is all voluntary.
But if you can sow the seeds of hope and possibility in just one young adult, it is worth all the riches in the world.
So if you have something to offer and can give of your time to such a wonderful cause , to help shape the future world we will leave behind, please contact Founders 4 Schools to help bridge the gap between education and employment, REGARDLESS of background or neurodiversity.
Our young people have never needed us more.
AMAZING AMAZING AMAZING !!!!!!!
What a night !! Some absolute stars in the making ….
Happy Tenth birthday !!
I don’t think I’ve ever been prouder to be part of something so infinitely special.
Each show seems to get better and better , with many of the performers going on to get spotted or signed up by producers, people from the music industry or theatre.
This first part of the roadshow hosted by the incredible Phil Barnett of Kidz R Us , based at the St Ives Theatre in Cornwall, on 2 October 2021 was an absolute roof raiser.
These adults do all their work on purely voluntary basis because like me, they BELIEVE !!!
They scoop up all that potential, grow “deficits” and “disorders (which are actually just differences – and often positive differences at that ) into the most unimagineable gifts, strengths and talent like you wouldn’t believe .
No one can buy ANY tissues from St Ives right now …Sorry, its all my fault.
I was not only there as a bursting with pride ambassador for AnnaKennedyOnline but to support one of the acts, Lauren Lovejoy, who has not only had to fight through the challenges that autism can bring but she has also survived the most horrific bullying. Her voice lifted the roof and I even had goose bumps in my hair. Her powerful deep soul voice NEEDS to be heard worldwide.
Kieron Lee was another young adult who has overcome so much and despite his huge nerves, his voice raised people to their feet and his delivery was as if he was born to perform on stage. I know he will go far. I feel it with my everything.
Jessi Kay at just 17 , and performing for the first time , was just a knock out, with the voice of angel.
Aston Avery, a previous winner of the National Diversity Awards, host of his own radio show, who daily busts the myths and ignorance surrounding autism not only sang but treated us all to yet another gift … tap-dancing !!
I could go on and on …..
The next show is at The Mermaid theatre in London on 16th October 2021.
For any of you who are neurodiverse, ,for any teachers, doctors, therapists, or any other professionals as well as families who feel they have no hope, PLEASE GO AND SEE WHAT YOUR CHILDREN ARE CAPABLE OF !!
It is not just a show – it’s an education. I wish all teachers could go along as part of their teacher training. We need a chat Boris Johnson…..
Not everyone has a superpower , even neurotypical people. But we all have something that we are good at, something which lights us up and helps us to sing our songs.
Our special kids have SO MUCH to offer, They are different but never ever less. Once you take the time to tap into their gifts and strengths, which we all have inside us regardless of labels or challenges ,that”deficit”, that “disorder”, that “disability” becomes a different and powerful strength.
One young lad, Tarrin, who is absolutely misunderstood at school, has found his place, his family, in the theatre with Phil at Kidz R Us . When he came on stage to do his solo performance , he had to stand and look back at his name in lights behind him in disbelief and he just kept saying ” That’s ME !! Thats my name !!” Every single child and young adult there who knew him just began stomping their feet and clapping in unison, yelling “Tarrin ! Tarrin ! Tarrin ! ”
That powerful , united energy of children supporting children, believing in each other, being accepted and finding where they belong, was so unbelievably moving.
At the end of Tarrin’s performance, Phil was just shaking his head and saying “If only your teachers could see you now” as Tarrin had said that at school “no-one understands me”.
That for me said it all.
Studio 4, a choreographer dance group just stunned everybody with their absolutely powerful and flawless contemporary dance routines which covered really current issues including the recent high school shootings in America. This inspirational and inclusive group fully embrace and grow children and young adults with neurodiversities.
Again, this is one adult believing in them … and as I’ve often said, it only takes one adult, one pebble on the path of life, to change the whole future for a child.
I was also called – much to my surprise and shock ( I actually asked Phil if I’d done something wrong !!!!) to talk about my therapy work with children, as I had had the most immense honour of meeting the children backstage before the show to talk them through some calming but focusing therapy techniques (which I wasn’t expecting either ) and which completely made my night.
I must admit I felt like a bit of a fraud on the stage because I was just so blown away by all of the tremendous performers who have all survived such odds and adversity,prejudice and misunderstanding,. I was shrinking up there to m make myself as small as possible . But I was very touched and felt so valued…something I never think about .
A community that doesn’t include EVERYONE is no community at all.
Neurodiverse children grow into neurodiverse adults and they have a right to be included, to have a place at the table, to be heard and to offer gifts that are often outside of that mainstream beige box…gifts which are phenomenal and help to move our world forward.
I will be forever grateful to be a part of that and will advocate and educate until my very last breath .
If yoou missed this show you can catch up with it on Tony Mason’s Youtube channel below: