Autism and Gaslighting

Autism and Gaslighting

Anna Kennedy OBE’s guest this week on her regular ‘All things Autism’ Women’s Radio Station programme was Joely William’s. Joely was born with Asperger’s Syndrome and a range of medical problems including being partially deaf and unable to speak until she was seven years old.

At mainstream school she suffered in the hands of bullies and as a result has PTSD. However testament to her positivity, Joely chose to turn her negative experiences around to help herself and hundreds of others. She dedicates her time to voluntary work raising awareness about the issues surrounding autism including taking part in local and national events, workshops and public speaking.

Joely spoke to me about Autism and unintentional Gas lighting a topic that appears to be circulating in the media at present. Joely shares : 

‘They tell you your flashbacks aren’t real and they devalue your lived experience by telling you are wrong for experiencing life the way you do – that its not possible. They can make you feel like you are wrong, or guilty or responsible for not getting better. They tell you to ‘get over it’, because ‘’its all in your head and you can control it’. This is gas-lighting, and a form of emotional abuse. Gas lighting is ‘to manipulate someone psychological into doubting their own sanity or self’. 

Having Autism, I am exposed to unintentional gas-lighting on a daily basis, from people, who often don’t wish me any harm, and sometimes, they’re even trying to help. 

Who here knows what gas-lighting is?

  • First of all to explain the concept of gas-lighting, Autism is NOT a crisis or a tragedy-people’s lack of understanding and the way we are sometimes treated and spoken to, IS.
  • We are disabled further by people, the way they treat or talk to us and our inaccessible learning environments-and gas-lighting.
  • We can be enabled to be the best we can be by people who nurture our interests and talents, who support us unconditionally and who make an effort to learn to understand us, as individual Human beings- every autistic person does not display the same. Like all humans, we are all diverse- and that is beautiful.

I say this because, the biggest difficulty in my eyes with lack of understanding of autism is that it is incredibly harmful and further disabling- autistic people are often unintentionally gas-lighted on a daily basis by most people around them-even those who don’t mean any harm and who are trying to help-parents, professionals, peers, colleagues and friends.

The definition of Gas lighting is: ‘to psychologically manipulate someone into doubting their own sanity or self’. This is a form of abuse-no matter how unintentional. Gas lighting is an awful thing to endure and changes everything you thought you understood about yourself.

Examples of unintentional harmful gas-lighting:

  • “You need to make eye contact. It’s not difficult. You’re so rude just look at me when I’m talking to you”
  • “The lights flickering? It’s too loud? No it’s not. How can you hear electricity? So ridiculous! Just stop flapping there’s nothing wrong with you. The light is hardly even flickering. No one else is throwing a tantrum over something so pointless.”
  • “Stop swinging your arms! It’s embarrassing and unnecessary. Why do you that?! I would never behave like that in public, it’s so wrong-You’re so weird and a bit of an attention seeker sometimes. Just stop it now, there’s no reason to behave like that.”
  • “It’s all in your head. Just get over it. The bus is late? So what? Why are you making such a big deal out of it? Honestly, you need to get your head Checked out!”
  • “Why didn’t you do what I asked you to do? I asked you this last week and you still haven’t done it. It’s not very nice and it’s rude to treat me like this. How do you forget and run out of energy? No one else ‘loses energy from making a phone call’ preventing them from doing jobs. Stop making excuses and stop being so lazy and just get on with it.”

All of these examples stem from lack of understanding and makes the problem to be the individual who has autism. These examples make the individual who has autism doubt themselves while questioning their lived experience and why they need to do things in certain ways-it’s a very negative harmful vicious circle. It slowly decreases any self value or confidence in themselves or abilities-thus disabling further.

Gas lighting can lead to depression, lack of self understanding or confidence, and awful feelings of isolation and simmering self hatred – I know this, because like thousands of others who live with autism, I too, have also been unintentionally gas-lighted for most of my life, by people, who simply don’t understand me, or the ways my autism and the outside world effects me.

Due to lack of understanding, people can’t always perceive how something so unchallenged and normal to them can be so hard and complicated to others (and supposedly we, who have autism have poor theory of mind!).

If you missed Joely’s incredible interview it will be played at the weekend on at 1pm 

Joely’s website 

Siena Castellon on the Chrissy B Show

Siena Castellon on the Chrissy B Show

Anna Kennedy OBE’s next guest on her regular ‘All things Autism’  monthly Chrissy B news piece is one of her charity Ambassadors Siena Castellon . 

Siena is a 17 year old neurodiversity advocate and anti-bullying campaigner. She is autistic, dyslexic and dyspraxic. She also has ADHD. Siena is passionate about changing negative perceptions and stereotypes about autistic people and people with learning differences.

When Siena was 13 year old, she created a website – – to mentor and support autistic students and students with learning differences. She created the website, because she found that all the online resources were aimed at parents.

On her website, Siena provides practical information and advice on how to overcome some of the academic and social challenges often faced by students with special educational needs.

Siena recently launched a school campaign – Neurodiversity Celebration Week – which aims to encourage schools to change perceptions about students with special educational needs by celebrating the strengths of their neurodiverse students and highlighting the advantages that come from interacting and perceiving the world differently.

Her campaign is supported by 23 major charities and organisations, including Anna Kennedy Online, the ADHD Foundation, the British Dyslexia Foundation, the Dyspraxia Foundation and the PDA Society. In 2019, over 350 schools and over 318,000 students participated in the first ever across the United Kingdom and abroad.

This year, Neurodiversity Celebration Week will take place in March 16 – 20, 2020. Siena hopes that it will be even bigger than last year.

Siena has also written a survival guide for autistic teen girls, which will be published in March 2020 by Jessica Kingsley Publishing. The guide will be illustrated by an autistic artist and will include a foreword by Dr Temple Grandin.

Siena has won numerous awards for her neurodiversity advocacy and website, including the 2018 BBC Radio 1 Teen Hero Award and the Diana Award. In 2018, she was also bestowed with a British Citizen Youth Award, received a Points of Light Award from Prime Minister Theresa May and met the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at a private reception in their home at Kensington Palace.

Siena is a work placement at UCL’s Centre for Research in Autism and Education (CRAE). She is currently working on a research study on perceptual capacity and anxiety in autistic individuals. She believes it is important for the autistic community to be involved in autism research so that the research is focused on addressing our needs and used to improve autism support services, rather than on finding a cure.

Siena also works as a peer outreach worker for the Mayor of London, which involves managing youth-focused events and working with organisations and charities to support young people in London on a broad range of issues, including disability services and support. 

Siena is  passionate about maths and physics. Last summer, she studied theoretical physics at Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Canada and had a one-week physics work placement at Cambridge University’s Cavendish Laboratory.

This summer she attended a materials science course at Cambridge University and spent five-weeks studying advanced math at a summer program in the United States. Siena frequently gives talks about diversity in STEM, including to a Parliamentary group, Imperial College and The Francis Crick Institute. She is currently studying for her A-levels in maths, further maths and physics and hopes to study materials science at university.

Anna Kennedy OBE told us “We are proud that Siena is part of the AKO Team. I first met Siena at our National Autism Hero Awards 2 years ago and was impressed how much she had achieved at the age of 14. I am looking forward to working with Siena raising further awareness and acceptance of autistic children and adults.

Siena’s interview will be shown on September 2 at 10pm Sky TVs Chrissy B Show the only Mental Health and Well Being Show on TV on Channel 191

Anna speaks to Hayley Harding founder of Sutton EHCP Crisis

Anna speaks to Hayley Harding founder of Sutton EHCP Crisis

Anna Kennedy OBE’s guest this week on ‘All things Autism’ weekly Womens Radio Show is Hayley Harding.

Prior to Hayley having her family she was a commercial in house solicitor and worked in some big companies including Google and Avis Budget Group. She is am married to Ben and they have two lovely young boys, Connor (2) and Matthew (4).

In July last year their son Matthew was diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. 

Hayley shares with Anna :

‘Whilst we knew he would face physical challenges because he suffered from hyper-mobility and needed splints to walk the diagnosis came as a shock.

On one hand I was relieved that we knew the reason for certain behavior but on the other I was worried about what the future would hold for him.

We were lucky, Matthew attended an amazing preschool that put in place everything that they could to help him to learn. What soon became clear though was the level of help he needed in order for that to happen.

As a result on January 2nd this year I unsuccessfully applied for Matthew to have an Educational Health Care Needs Assessment with a view to him needing an Educational Health Care Plan. 

Given that Matthew had seven professional reports all in agreement that a plan was needed I was shocked when his application was rejected. In response I went on a couple of social media groups to ask other families whether I was missing something or had done something wrong and was astounded by the number of families coming back to me saying that appealing was a standard process in our borough should a child need help. 

As a result I decided to start the Sutton EHCP Crisis Facebook Group which now has 270 members in less than three months. What soon came to light was that Sutton had the highest rate of rejection in 2018 and that unlawful criteria had been used to reject children for EHC Assessments since the establishment of the Children and Families Act 2014.

Whilst this isn’t unusual practice by councils throughout the country the extent to which Sutton was and is doing this is was far greater than average and we estimate that up to 700 children have been rejected using unlawful criteria here since 2015. 

Families here are at breaking point as a result, with marriages breaking up and parents seeking help for depression from doctors not forgetting the children who are being put in situations that are completely wrong and suffering long term mental health issues as well. 

The groups aim is simple, for the children of Sutton who have suffered as a result of the use of unlawful criteria to be given an apology and an offer of help to rectify the situation.

Going forward we would like all children here to receive the help that they are legally entitled to. This should not be something that has taken a 250 strong group of people to achieve but regardless is one that the group will stop at nothing to make sure happens. 

If anyone would like to join our group or follow how we are getting on please do!

We can be found at or on twitter @crisisehcp. ‘

If you missed Hayley’s interview it will be aired at 1pm everyday for the rest of the week on

Katie Price’s son Harvey shows off his impressive piano skills ahead of Autism’s Got Talent

Katie Price’s son Harvey shows off his impressive piano skills ahead of Autism’s Got Talent

The British talent showcase celebrates the diverse skills of children and adults with autism – and this heartwarming video proves that music is for everyone.

An inspiring new video of Katie Price’s son, Harvey, playing the piano is going viral – and his efforts are all for an important cause. In the clip, which featured in the final episode of Katie Price: My Crazy Life!, we see 17-year-old Harvey take a seat at the piano beside his mentor, Adam.

As they begin a lesson in improvisation, Katie says: “Harvey’s always played the keyboard, but I don’t quite know what he’s capable of.”

Despite never hearing the music before, Harvey quickly impresses his audience of two with his superb sense of rhythm and ability to play in the correct key.

Harvey first became interested in the musical instrument aged four, but his ad-libbing skills still come as a surprise to Katie, who asks: “How can he make that up? That fascinates me.” Adam explains: “For Harvey, music is his words. Music’s his language.”
The music lesson wasn’t just for fun – Harvey was putting in the hours ahead of his performance at Autism’s Got Talent, a London-based charity event celebrating the diverse skills of autistic children and adults, run by Anna Kennedy Online.
Throughout the episode, we see that on the day of the event, Harvey feels anxious and overwhelmed – a common feeling among autistic children – and no longer wishes to play.

Katie explains: “Harvey can sometimes get upset in new situations and although he’s desperate to perform, he’s got cold feet at the last minute.” But after watching the other participants, and with a little encouragement, he overcomes his anxiety and decides to go ahead with the performance.
It’s a charming rendition of ‘When The Saints Go Marching In’ – and the audience’s positive response is a great reminder that music is not only enjoyable for autistic children, but it can boost their confidence too.
Katie Price has been candid in interviews about Harvey’s partial blindness, autism and experience of Prader-Willi syndrome, and has recently campaigned for a law against the type of cyber-bullying her son has experienced.
Month: August 2019