Logjam in the Employment Tribunal

Logjam in the Employment Tribunal

It is reasonable to assume that anyone who has recently come in contact with the First-tier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs and Disability) will be aware of the backlog which is routinely causing delays in getting cases heard.  These difficulties are being caused by a huge number of people seeking the assistance of the Tribunal.

But users of the Tribunal shouldn’t feel victimised because the Employment Tribunal is experiencing similar difficulties.

Claims to the Employment Tribunal have more than doubled in the last two years, latest official figures show. While the Ministry of Justice received 4,291 single claims from January to March 2017, it received 9,500 from January to March of this year. Although single claim receipts grew by just 6% compared with the same quarter last year, the outstanding caseload rose by 39% to 26,664. The mean age of claims at disposal also rose.

Another causal factor is the swingeing funding cut since 2010. This was all done when each Lord Chancellor since 2010 swore oath of office “to ensure the provision of resources for the efficient and effective support of the courts.”

We all wait and see what is going to happen next.

Ladies of All Nations International celebrate families who are positively impacting the community

Ladies of All Nations International celebrate families who are positively impacting the community

Beautiful Survivors is an initiative dedicated to recognising people who have been victims of circumstances beyond their control but still emerge as winners. We also want to recognise families who are impacting the communities.

The Patil Family were selected to receive a special recognition award as a Living Testimony of faith and perseverance.The family was recognised as truly remarkable, on a mission to create positive change, inspiring others and impacting people in a positive way.According to Mrs Patil, it was an extremely emotional moment to see Disha and her husband Dayanand Patil sharing the stage to receive the award.

“Seeing the stories of so many Beautiful Survivors, I felt there are so many brave and courageous people around who have seen more tough things than one can imagine and the way they face the world and win is commendable. We as a family are extremely thankful to LOANI for recommending our name, giving us a feeling that we are a bigger family.It was an honour to receive the award from very inspiring Dr Anna Kennedy who is the founder of Autism’s Got Talent.” According to the CEO of Beautiful Survivors, the aim is for beautiful survivors to be part of a great initiative, saving and transforming lives.

The Patil family is one of the families we will be working with to create more awareness for parents with disabled children. We are now working on hosting special parents workshops where patents with disabled children can connect and share ideas.

Next month we will be hosting special mums coffee mornings. We want to appreciate them and give value to their lives.The Patil family have made a real positive impact to other parents.


Source: https://ablemagazine.co.uk/ladies-of-all-nations-international-celebrate-families-who-are-positively-impacting-the-community/?fbclid=IwAR0N67uOzu4dUhC_mkrtTi2eu8NYFy7tgJdMQFIH9I2Ah3cbb-iII2hPUPs

Taking My Mask Off – by Alison Blaney

Taking My Mask Off – by Alison Blaney

Recently whilst visiting the North East I met up with Alison who was recently diagnosed on the Autism spectrum in her 30s and has 2 daughters on the spectrum. Alison shared her story and ideas with me:

I was the little girl who literally my Mother didn’t know she had. I would happily play on my own, I liked being around adult company. I had a few friends at school, I was never part of the crowd though, that I liked. I liked being with the dinner ladies, strange how you still have memories from your childhood and who was important.

The dinner ladies made me feel safe where my peers were unpredictable. I have memories of coming home from school locking myself in the toilet so I that I could replay back every conversation I had that day, every social encounter, I would be playing pretend in my mind whilst my hands would be in a world of their own, flapping every time an emotion ran through me. The bathroom would become my sanctuary, the only place I could lock myself in and make everything go away, I could be in my own little world and no one would know.

Fast Forward Twenty Five Years. I am now an adult (I don’t always feel like one), I have two children of my own, Girls. My Girls are Autistic. Niamh is my beautiful social butterfly, a people pleaser, a worrier, her hands can move like mine, she is a mini me. Mila is my sensory seeking beautiful rainbow bubble, classically autistic, diagnosed at twenty one months old, never happier than when she is upside down watching You Tube or running around like the Tazmanian Devil..

Then there is Me, Alison. I’m now thirty four and I’m Autistic. It’s strange reading that out loud as I type it. I’m Autistic. I’ve always been Autistic but I’ve only just received my diagnosis. At Fourteen I was diagnosed as anorexic with an anxiety disorder, given numerous medications and therapies. Did they work, No, Why because I was Autistic.

Anxiety disorder wasn’t supposed to make you shut down, it wasn’t supposed to make you psycho analyse every social interaction you ever had. It wasn’t supposed to affect your daily living skills meaning you can’t drive or plait your child’s hair. I have co-ordination difficulties, I have sensory issues, I like to control every situation and people generally confuse the hell out of me. Why, I’m Autistic.

I now have a diagnosis, what does that mean…I should receive support like my children have. Not quite, when you have masked and hid your difficulties for over thirty years it is extremely hard to take off that mask. It is difficult to ask for help, it is difficult to admit that I struggle. The difference is now that I know why I think the way I do which means it’s okay to ask for help. It is okay to fidget and move my hands and it is okay to need time to be alone to help support and regulate myself.

I set up I am her voice- Our Autism Journey in January 2019. I initially set it up as a hobby to share mine and my Girls Autism journey. It become so much more, it has helped me help myself, my children and others. I am also an Autism and ADHD (Yes we have that too) Workshop Trainer.

Finally I am Founder of Chasing Rainbows a Social Enterprise helping to support families, children and adults throughout their Autism/ ADHD journey. I offer support to help children and adults express themselves, help find ways to regulate their senses and emotions.

I’m about to set up Rainbow Buddies a service helping adults on the spectrum who may need that understanding buddy around in the supermarket when its busy, help to attend Job Interviews, to help support them at medical appointments, the list is endless. I wanted to do this because one day my children may need a buddy to help make their day that bit brighter and help them understand that it’s okay to ask for help, that’s what buddies are for.

Chasing Rainbow’s are about to launch brand new services across the North East and then pilot Nationwide. I would like support for families and siblings, I would like support for girls and boys who are not diagnosed, I would like support for adults who need that extra care and guidance. I would like support for me and my children. That’s my aim anyway, I want my voice heard finally.

Workshops Available – Outreach Trainer and Online Workshops

I am her voice- Girls with Autism Workshop

In this workshop I will discuss the ways in which some females with autism may present. As an adult only just receiving my diagnosis in my thirties, I have learnt how to mask my autism traits to the detriment of my mental health. Learn how females are quite often mis-diagnosed with a mental health condition such as anorexia and anxiety disorder, much like Myself. Unless girls show signs that they have classic autism it is often harder to diagnose. I also have two daughters both diagnosed with Autism.

Explaining the Senses- Learning to Live with Sensory Issues

Did you know we have more than Five Senses??? Are you aware of Proprioception, Vestibular Feedback and Interoception??

How many of us know children and adults with sensory issues that have what can be described as the ‘delayed effect’, masking their sensory needs at school/workplace (yes this does happen) and then home time they experience what can be described as a Meltdown and often in my case Shutdown.

This workshop will give you first hand advice, support and techniques around your child’s sensory issues. Discover ways in which I often mask my sensory difficulties and how I have learnt to regulate my senses through time.

ADHD and Me- The Misunderstood Condition

At Thirty Four Years of age I wondered why I struggled with organizing myself, why my mind feels like it could go a million miles an hour, why my memory is poor, why can I start tasks and have difficulty finishing them…. ADHD can often be missed in both Girls and Boys. Often a child can be labeled ‘Naughty’, ‘Fidgety’, ‘A day dreamer’, ‘Can’t stop talking’…. Can you identify with this?  Is your child in attentive, forgetful, hyperactive, impulsive….

ADHD is often a misunderstood condition if not diagnosed early. Often it’s when you reach adulthood that without a diagnosis the consequences can be extremely difficult to live with. Relationship Difficulties, Keeping a Job, Passing Exams, Paying Bills, Attending Appointments..

Learn the difference between ADHD and ADD, find out how poor executive functioning skills can affect your daily life…. This workshop will give you an inside view on ADHD.

I am your voice- What is Autism

Learn about the Autism Spectrum, the traits which you can present with, why are more boys still being diagnosed than girls, the co-morbidities that can come with autism…

This Workshop will help explain autism from a personal perspective as well as the techniques and theories used to help support those on the spectrum.

Visiting Neeraj Sharma at Daisy Chain

Visiting Neeraj Sharma at Daisy Chain

At the weekend Angelo and I visited my family in the North East and also met with the new CEO of Daisy Chain in Stockton. I have been Patron to Daisy Chain for a few year now and love the work of the charity. 

Daisy Chain was established as a charity in 2003 as the dream of its founder, Lesley Hanson, whose son Jacob was diagnosed with autism at an early age.

Although Jacob’s condition was not severe, Lesley soon became aware of the problems faced by the parents and carers of children who were higher on the autistic spectrum.

Daisy ChainLesley dreamt of a haven for children with autism; a place where they could go to experience something in life that would give them pleasure and was especially for them. It would also provide parents, carers and siblings with support and a resource library.

Disgruntled with the lack of facilities and services available to support families, Lesley and her husband Duane set off on a quest to make her dream become a reality.

After extensive fundraising, the doors to Daisy Chain opened one year after her initial dream and it has continued to grow ever since.

Now, many years later, the charity provides a range of support services to children and adults affected by autism, either with a diagnosis or who are undergoing the diagnostic process, their parents/carers and their siblings living in a TS or DL postcode area.

Neeraj Sharma shared:

“The meeting centred around Daisy Chain’s future plans and how we might work with Anna in the future to improve the rights of and conditions of individuals with autism. Anna and Neeraj spoke about some of the challenges facing individuals with autism.  In particular, the equality of opportunity and how young people need to be supported to overcome barriers to progress.

Neeraj emphasised that Daisy Chain was keen to showcase the talents of individuals with autism living within North East of England and was looking forward to working with Anna to bring back Autism’s Got Talent to the region in 2021. In addition to the above, Neeraj also discussed ways in which Daisy Chain could join initiatives developed by Anna to combat in-school playground bullying for pupils with autism. Here at Daisy Chain we are so very fortunate to have such an inspirational and humble individual as one of our patrons and we are all looking forward to working further with Anna.”

“Did you hear about her son?” – Shattering the Stigma around Autism in the Asian Community

“Did you hear about her son?” – Shattering the Stigma around Autism in the Asian Community

What is it that makes us Asians so uncomfortable talking about autism?

I’ve found that there’s a lot of misunderstanding – and a general lack of understanding – in the Asian community about hidden disabilities. I remember telling an aunty that my son was autistic and she replied: “There was no such thing in my day; it’s just the concoction of over thinking by western doctors who have nothing better to do.  Parents just need to be firmer with their children”. Sound familiar?

I’ve noticed that it’s far easier to discuss physical disabilities with others in the community because they’re more obvious. And people seem more sympathetic and able to reconcile the child’s condition with God’s will – but that’s not the case with hidden disabilities like autism.

Asian ways

Even though we may live in Britain, we’ve kept a lot of our Asian ways for example, through celebrating rites of passage, observing religious days and practices and cooking traditional food. But in other ways, it seems we still need to progress our thinking about the world around us.

I’ve observed that as a community, we place a lot of weight on how others perceive us – and sometimes make counter intuitive choices based on what we think we should be doing.  And talking about having an autistic child ventures into the realms of extreme discomfort because many Asians don’t know what it is, how it manifests and why you need to engineer your life differently around your child compared to others.


But we have a choice; we can seize this opportunity to educate those around us about autism and break down some of the misconceptions about our children. Or we can carry on as normal, telling no-one, putting our children’s behaviour down to simply not listening and contributing to a future where they fail to be understood and are marginalised for not fitting in. 

The impact of the choice we make is not to be underestimated. By not talking about our autistic children we create a sense of nervousness and shame around the subject. And so, we show up as introverted and uncomfortable. We tell ourselves stories that people might be judging us behind our backs and perceive our family negatively and that our children’s marriage prospects will be restricted. And because we present laden with all this emotional baggage, we end up attracting negative misconceptions from those around us.

Choosing a different path

I’m not prepared to subscribe to that.

Instead of shying away from my son’s autism, I’ve told everyone in our family what it is and how it affects him. Because of this, people now ask me how we are from a place of genuine concern. However my day’s been, I can be honest and authentic talking about it because by bringing them into the world of autism, I’ve effectively given them permission to ask.

By wearing different personas for the different people we’re meeting, we run the risk of losing touch with whom we really are because we’re so obsessed with ensuring the right persona is in place for the group of people we’re interacting with; whether it’s the aunties at the mandir* or the relatives at a wedding.

By committing to just being you – raw and authentic – you can conserve all of the energy spent trying to be the person you think others want you to be and instead spend it on the person who deserves it most – you.

But, how?

“Ok but if I’m going to a function and I know my child struggles with big crowds, what am I supposed to do?”. The answer is, whatever it takes so that he’s comfortable and so are you.

If that means no Indian clothes, wearing ear defenders, arriving towards the end of a ceremony so that he doesn’t have to hang around for hours with unfamiliar people or asking the host to seat your family somewhere specifically – then so be it.

You’d be surprised how accommodating and understanding people can be when we let them into our world and show them how these changes can make such a difference to the experience you and your family have. 

Tailoring experiences

Last week, I took my six year old autistic son to a bhajan sathsang* which I’d never before done. I’d attempted to run simple family prayer sessions at home previously and gave up because he just couldn’t sit still and was only interested in touching the bells, idols and the artificial (and real) tealights. Despite that, I thought I’d give this a go. I told the host family I was coming with my autistic son and I’d like a place near the front so he can watch the musicians, to which they happily obliged. My son sat for over an hour attempting to sing the songs and enraptured by the orchestra playing around him. By being open and honest, I created a completely different experience for us.

Great expectations

There’s a lot of expectation in our community of mothers being strong and holding it all together but being the parent of an autistic child is exhausting; anticipating their needs and creating a world around them where they feel comfortable and secure takes a lot of energy. So it’s important that we stand up to the stereotyped Mother India* image and ask for help.

Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of strength because it shows that you’ve identified what you want to achieve and you’re using your resources to make it happen.

If your boss asked you to put a pivot table together urgently, would you bury yourself in online tutorials or ask your Excel proficient colleague for help? We’d utilise the resources around us unashamedly to deliver the task. So why don’t we do this for ourselves?

What do you need?

You can’t pour from an empty cup. It’s important to think about what matters to you and to move things around to make it happen. I need time and quietude to be able to write. But my kids are like bulls in china shops and I don’t want to silence them with movies. Instead, my husband has moved his weekend run from Sunday mornings to Saturday afternoons so he can drop my eldest to drama (whilst toddler naps), go for a run and then collect him. This gives me one and a half hours to write. And I’ve created similar pockets of time across the weekend to dedicate to exercise, writing and self care by asking for support from those around me.

United we stand

There is so much strength to be derived from being part of the Asian community. But unless we’re prepared to be bold and go out there, sharing our experiences and talking openly and proudly about our autistic children, the community won’t move ahead with us and we’ll end up abandoning it as archaic and rigid all because we were afraid of how people might react. 

Our children deserve to benefit from India’s rich, cultural heritage as much as any other; let’s pave a path together in the world where they’re embraced and celebrated – just as they are.

*temple – a Hindu place of worship

* bhajan sathsang – a public gathering at someone’s house where religious songs are sung

*Mother India – 1957 Bollywood movie about “a poverty-stricken village woman who, in the absence of her husband, struggles to raise her sons and survive… Despite her hardships, she sets a goddess-like moral example of an ideal Indian woman”. (source: Wikipedia)

Reena Anand

FB: Rewriting the Script

Insta: reenathewriter

Blog: reenaanand.com

Month: June 2019