Womens Radio Station ‘All things Autism’ guest Reena Anand shares: Autism and Culture

Womens Radio Station ‘All things Autism’ guest Reena Anand shares: Autism and Culture

Anna Kennedy OBE’s guest this week on Womens Radio Station ‘All things Autism’ is Reena Anand. Reena shares her story with Autism Ambassador Anna Kennedy OBE:

‘Reena is a mum of two boys aged 3 and 6, the eldest of whom is autistic. Whilst convalescing following an operation last year, she started writing about her experience as an autism parent and the stigma surrounding autism in the Asian community. Her blog posts have been read internationally by thousands of people with readers reaching out to Reena both for support and in gratitude for openly and proudly talking about her autism experience (reenaanand.com). 

By day, Reena is an ombudsman and strives to make a difference not only through her work but by coaching colleagues who have received an autism diagnosis navigate support systems and resources. She’s arranged autism awareness training at work and at her son’s school and is currently organising further training and fundraising so that the teachers can provide more tailored support to its autistic pupils.

Reena talks about her fear when she received her son’s diagnosis knowing nothing about autism and what this might mean for his future. However, she used the diagnosis to learn about autism and to research parenting strategies and interventions to best support her son. Reena secured an EHCP for him and adapted her traditional parenting style to best serve his needs, for example by involving her son in key family decisions.

Reena talks about how her son’s needs inform where they go and what they do and she openly explains to friends and families the impact certain environments can have on him.  

Reena says that there is still some discomfort in the Asian community about autism and people often struggle to talk about or acknowledge her son’s autism. Reena wants to promote autism education and awareness in the Asian community so that all autistic children have the opportunity to access support and interventions as early as possible. Reena cites The National Autistic society’s Diverse Perspectives research in the interview and how the subject of shame featured strongly in the Asian community – something she’s keen to address.

Reena talks about her own parents’ struggle as first generation Indians in the UK whose focus was on economic survival so they could provide opportunities to their children which weren’t available to them. She says that there was less of a focus on emotional intelligence or feelings dialogue and academic prowess became synonymous with success. She says that autism can be perceived as a threat to this success which is why many Asians may be afraid to accept the label or the diagnosis.

Reena talks about adopting collaborative – rather than obedience led – parenting and considering success to be anything where our children are feeling fulfilled and are pursuing their life purpose. She’s adopted this with her own children and advocates that the wider Asian community consider this approach. 

Reena is committed to serving her son and others by speaking about autism to create greater tolerance and understanding about it. She writes about being an Asian autism parent in her blog (reenaanand.com) and through video blogs on Instagram (reenathewriter) and Facebook (Rewriting the Script by Reena Anand). ‘

If you missed our interview it is aired every day this week at 1pm and 1 am: www.womensradiostation.com 

People with disabilities in employment

People with disabilities in employment

A recent House of Commons briefing by Andrew Powell provides a position statement on the experiences of disabled people in employment. Click here to find further details.

The paper provides some interesting information which we would like to share. By way of a disclaimer, we need to point out that we have not, given time constraints, had an opportunity to corroborate Mr Powell’s assertions by analysing the data sets upon which he relies. That said, we have no reason to suggest that Mr Powell’s data analysis skills are ineffective in this regard.

In summary, the employment gap between disabled and non-disabled people as of March 2019 stands at 29.9%:  in January-March 2019, the employment rate for people with disabilities was 51.7% and the rate for people without disabilities was 81.7%. Women are doing slightly better than men – the gap being 26.3% and 33.2% respectively.  Importantly, the employment gap stood at 33.8% in 2014 so the most recent figure is used as evidence that employment opportunities are opening up for disabled people.

Less edifying are the differences in employments rates for disabled people in the UK.    In January-December 2018 the employment rate was highest for people who were disabled in the South East at 59.0%, and lowest in Northern Ireland at 35.7%. Mr Powell claims that the distribution is largely reflective of the overall employment rates within the regions, although the gap between the highest and lowest is much larger for people who are disabled.

The employment rate was highest for people with disabilities age 25 to 49 (56.4%) though the employment rate was lowest for people with disabilities aged 16- 24 (38.2%). That said, the gap between the employment rate of disabled people aged 16-24 and that of non-disabled people aged 16-24 was the smallest of any age band, at 18.3 percentage points.

To be able to draw firm conclusions we would need to (amongst other things) analyse the definitions used and apply these to the analysis carried out. This aside, it is reasonable for people who are interesting the area of disability and employment to come away with some optimism after reading the report. 

Normal Day-to- day Activities

Normal Day-to- day Activities

The employment case of The Chief Constable of Norfolk v Lisa Coffey was recently heard by the Court of Appeal, the latest stop in its route from the Employment Tribunal and Employment Appeal Tribunal. The appeal was dismissed.

Lisa Coffey, is a police officer in the Wiltshire Constabulary. She has a degree of hearing loss which has never caused her any problems in doing her job. In 2013 she applied for a transfer to the Norfolk Constabulary, but was refused because on a medical test her hearing fell, as the medical adviser put it, “just outside the standards for recruitment strictly speaking”. Ms Coffey presented a disability discrimination claim to the Employment Tribunal and was successful. Her employer appealed, but this was dismissed.

Our particular interest in this case is on the clarification given by Lord Justice Underhill in relation to “day-to-day activities.”

Section 6 The Equality Act 2010 states that: A person (P) has a disability if P has a physical or mental impairment, and the impairment has a substantial and long‐term adverse effect on his ability to carry out normal day‐to-day activities

But what are normal day‐to-day activities?

Lord Justice Underhill confirmed the applicability of the Court of Justice of the European Union’s (CJEU) definition in Chacón Navas and also Ring, namely that normal day-to-day activities encompass activities relevant in working life.

The appellant had tried to claim that the skills of “front-line officers” were extremely high – akin to, say, a watchmaker or highly skilled violin player – hence did not constitute normal day‐to-day activities. Lord Justice Underhill, whilst rightly acknowledging the skill and professionalism of front-line police officers, was not persuaded stating that:

“As to that, the impairment with which we are here concerned relates to hearing. There was no evidence before the ET, and it seems unlikely, that front-line officers need to have peculiarly acute hearing: they are not piano-tuners or audio engineers. I accept……. of course, that there will be occasions in the course of their duties when it is important that they be able to listen carefully or hear particular sounds (even if not a fly’s footfall), but that is characteristic of many situations both at work and outside it. Although I fully accept that the work of a front-line police officer is in many respects unique and that it is often challenging and sometimes dangerous, the multifarious activities that it involves – or at least those for which good hearing is relevant – are nevertheless for the purpose of the Act “normal day-to-day activities.”

This is important because, for whatever reason, employers will sometimes claim that, despite being impaired, a disabled person is not afforded the protection of the Equality Act 2010 because the activities associated with a role are so skilled and specialist they do not constitute normal day‐to-day activities. The Court of Appeal has clearly made such “hyper-upskilling” harder as they preferred what could be called a more sensible, and balanced approached.

Anna’s guest Alessandra Bester on Women’s Radio

Anna’s guest Alessandra Bester on Women’s Radio

It was wonderful to join Anna Kennedy at the Women’s Radio again. Once we start talking, it’s clear we have so much useful information to share Both being parents and professionals with connection to Autism, we are very passionate about supporting others.

My name is Alessandra Bester. I created a snack for my son Ethan, back in the days, when he didn’t eat enough. Soon after, an idea evolved to find some sort of sustainable work opportunity for the otherwise unemployable single mom with the severely autistic boy and so began the idea for the Functional Food Co from my home kitchen. The fast-growing population of people with allergies also demanded more choices of healthy, lunch box friendly snacks. 

I was surprised how much my son (10 back than) Ethan wanted to participate and I thought of making this a future opportunity for him and others.

We now provide work training, experience and employment to young adults with special needs and autism, #teamnono proving that, given the right environment and support everyone can participate in the world of work and shine.  

The generation of young people that I am working with, had very few expectations of independence, or working. I hope that we can learn something from them, for future generations to be better prepared.

 At #teamnono we say #nonoexclusion and #nonobullying

‘We want opportunity not charity. We want sales not donations’

During the radio interview I have share with Anna how we have included all the students from Leighton collage in our latest ‘Identity’ project. Not just the ones able to work in the kitchen, but absolutely everyone. A collaborative artwork was then used to create the box design. Students chose their own chocolates with each named after that individual.

The box was named ‘identity’ to break the stigma around disability, nationality, race and …and to demonstrate that true identity comes from uniqueness. The artwork will be included in upcoming exhibition by Ecclestone Art supported by Dame Emma Thompson and exhibited at the Burgh House in Hampstead. The box has became a hit and we’ve received wonderful feedback from chocolate critics, customers as well as a support from local businesses that have included our product in their shops.

The past few months, we have been ‘touring’ many north London stores promoting and getting a feedback on our work. The favourite flavour  so far has been fresh mint and lime mojito chocolate and roasted coconut, but nothing bits the zesty orange caramel. (you won’t notice its sugar free) Anna’s favourite.

Classroom arts and crafts became a reality for our young people who have been valued and respected for what they CAN do.

You can find more about what we do and the beautiful, handmade, Vegan, Gluten Free snacks and chocolates we produce at nono-cocoa.com use a code AKO19 for 15% off

On social media @nonococoauk or email me aless@ffco.life

You can also see a FLIP magazine created, designed, investigated and written by the students from Leighton College, further educational provision for young adults with special needs. Both as a parent and professional, I have found reading this very insightful and useful.

AS a parent and public speaker on Autism, I also share information from my latest appearance in SEN Virtual Summit where I talk about supporting young people with Autism during puberty. You can see the full video subscribe using this link

We also talked with Anna about the elephant in the room – the summer holidays – which can be very hard for us as parents and our children. Drawing from my personal experience I have found some things useful, such as:

  • Personalised clothing stamps that I use to mark my son’s cloths with my name and phone number, including his PJ’s as he once left home in the middle of the night and no one knew who he was. This gives me some assurance. https://stamptastic.co.uk and https://www.stikets.co.uk
  • If your child is a ‘runner’ I also learned that your local police can have your child’s up to date picture on the system, so that If your child is found unattended anywhere, and unable to speak, the police can quickly find your details and reunite you with your child. We have had to learn this, the hard way.
  • Autism t-shirts, is something that has made a BIG difference to us when out and about. Not every disability is visible, and public reaction to your child’s corky behaviour can be easily diffused if people only knew that this is NOT a bad behaviour. I can’t tell you how many times we have had a member of public sending us a smile instead of ‘the look’. I have designed all my son’s t-shirts over the years and made it relevant to his age. I have a few t-shirts to give away for the little ones, age 2-5. Please send your enquiry to aless@ffco.life. You can also buy more grown up t-shirts click here to shop

As a lone parent who completely relies on carers for support, the holidays are very difficult. I I find it hard to do shopping or go to places that aren’t familiar for my son. In the supermarket my son would walk, fast, run, and I was never able to get everything we need it in one visit. He would also wonder off so many times.

Now we use a wheelchair provided by most supermarkets, where he is calmer, cocooned and relaxed enough to tell me what I am adding to the trolley. That way shopping is a pleasure and a learning opportunity. You can rent a wheelchair from British Red Cross for the summer. Click here for details

If you would like to be updated on #teamnono work and also to access useful information and resources, please click here to subscribe

Follow us on social media FB @autismlifestyleuk Insta & Twitter @nonococoauk

You can hear Alessandra’s interview on www.womensradiostation.com at 1pm everyday this week

Autism’s Got Talent Highlights to be Shown on Katie Price’s Show

Autism’s Got Talent Highlights to be Shown on Katie Price’s Show

On Monday next week, 22nd July at 1 pm Katie Price will be sharing some highlights from Autism’s Got Talent on her Quest Red TV show ‘Katie Price: My Crazy Life‘.

At the London show Katie and her son Harvey presented one of the acts, and Harvey shouted out words of encouragement to the performers. Harvey was so taken with the show that Katie sent in his audition of Harvey playing the organ. Harvey then showcased his talent and performed ‘Over the Rainbow’ and ‘ When the Saints Come Marching In’ for the recent Autism’s Got Talent St Ives Roadshow.

The audience gave Harvey a standing ovation, with Harvey’s sister Princess in attendance to support her brother. Harvey thanked the audience and was appreciative of the applause and his certificate of participation.

Autism’s Got Talent has a unique format: it does not hold auditions, instead it aims to boost participants’ confidence by shining a spotlight on their individual strengths. The show was founded in 2012 by Anna Kennedy OBE, ambassador for Options Autism, one of the key part sponsors of the event, who provides care and education to children, young people and adults with autism.

CEO of Options Autism, Graham Baker, was delighted to be supporting the show for the third year running. Graham shares: ‘AGT provides an amazing – and incredibly moving – opportunity for those with autism to shine and celebrate success. Recognising and nurturing the unique strengths of individuals is key to unlocking their potential and we are proud to support this leading charity and autism event.’

Previous AGT stars include the dance group Autism with Attitude, who recently appeared on BBC One’s hit show The Greatest Dancer.

Anna and her team took the show to St Ives and the audience were treated to a dazzling array of live performances, including 23-year-old singer Charlotte Fieldson, who was non-verbal until the age of five when she started to sing along to ‘Sleeping Beauty’. Local magician Jono Blythe also wowed audiences with the help of his glamorous volunteer Katie Price, who travelled down to Cornwall to support her son Harvey as he made his debut performance in the show.

Harvey – who has severe autism, a rare complex genetic condition called Prader-Willi Syndrome and is partially blind – has been playing the keyboard since the age of four. He performed two songs at the event, footage of which will be shared on Katie Price’s latest TV show this summer.

Anna Kennedy OBE, a passionate advocate and campaigner for individuals and families affected by autism for over 20 years, reflected on the night, saying: ‘This year’s Autism’s Got Talent has been another smash hit, packed with some of our most exciting talent yet. We’ve been blown away by the amount of positive feedback from both press and families and are hugely proud of all of our performers.

‘AGT is a life changing experience and it has been a privilege to watch our performers gain confidence and self-belief. We’re looking forward to celebrating our next roadshow on 12th October at the Winston Churchill Theatre in Ruislip.’

Source: https://www.psychreg.org/autisms-got-talent-katie-price/

Month: July 2019