Autism’s Got Talent 2018 – standing ovation and tears in its 7th year!

Autism’s Got Talent 2018 – standing ovation and tears in its 7th year!

Leading Autism Campaigner Anna Kennedy OBE, in association with Pineapple Performing Arts, presented its 7th successful year of legendary show Autism’s Got Talent

Whilst Britain’s Got Talent is being aired every week in the UK, a revolutionary show that exceeds expectation year upon year, took place that highlighted real virtuosity of talented individuals from across the world known as ‘Autism’s Got Talent’. Created by Anna Kennedy Online an Autism awareness charity, prevailed its success in its seventh year of showcasing performances by adults and children with autism. Supported by Pineapple Performing Arts, this sensational presentation of real talent has grown in popularity each year and 2018 firmly cemented Anna Kennedy Online as the leading charity bringing positive impact to inclusion and raising autism awareness uniquely that has rocked the whole world every year.

With more than 500,000 people diagnosed with autism in the UK it is easy to simply label individuals and communities and is often misunderstood by incorrect perceptions created in the media.

The lady behind this is no other than inspirational Anna Kennedy OBE who founded the concept in 2012 aspiring to break barriers and misconceptions of Autism by creating the show but also giving a platform to talented individual and recognising the ability not the disability, raising awareness unconventional to other charities and mapping into the mainstream world thus bringing both together. The performers this year consisted of singers, actors, musicians dance troupes and a magician whom all revealed their extraordinary talent to a theatre of 650 people.

The stars of the evening were:

  • Charlotte Fieldson and Calvin Glen – singing an incredible duet  ‘All I ask of you ‘
  • Lewis Turner and Sam Geldard – Sam sang and played the ukulele and Lewis played the African Drum
  • Lakhile Dlamini – a 10-year-old musician who displayed his skills and played a medley on the keyboard .
  • Lauren Hooper and Richard Sanderson – singing an original song ‘ Invisible.’
  • Matthew Shelton – singing ‘Cry me a River’
  • Theodor Matthews – recited his own poem.
  • Jack Mitchell – age 21 who treated the audience to a rendition of his own song, Where The Poppies Fall, which he wrote in memory of those who died at the Battle of the Somme in 1916 and also playing the acoustic guitar to pay homage to those who fought and died in WWI.
  • Mel Golding – sang her own son as a tribute to her late Father.
  • Josh Beasley – magician showcasing his tricks to Robin Windsor.
  • Martin Finn – who was on BBC Autistic Superstars, Martin is non-verbal but sang and left the audience in tears and showed him being ‘One in a million’ because of the margin between his ability and disability.
  • Kieron Lee – powerful singer who captivated the audience with his mesmerising voice singing ‘Never Enough’
  • Rachel Barcellona – who flew over from the US and sang opera which left the audience captivated.
  • Generation 2 – Street dance group who are from Hillingdon Manor School.
  • Pineapple Performing Arts Scholarship Winners Aston, Charlotte, Jack, Callum, Dylan, Sophia, Ethan and Macauley who were outstanding on stage with their collaborative styles and so unique.
  • Thomas Puttock – sand a song from Princess and the Frog.

The evening’s final showdown was Anna Kennedy OBE herself who danced with AWA generation 2 from Hillingdon Manor School. The finale was emotional and the audience appreciative for experiencing and being part of an unforgettable evening.

This year’s avid supporters included Robin Windsor, Kacey Ainsworth Patron of the charity and Danielle Lloyd the charity ambassador who were welcomed on the red carpet and then presented the acts with a synopsis of their journey.

Danielle and Kacey both attended the Autism Hero Awards last year, Robin was Anna’s dance partner when she was selected out of 2000 people to be in BBC The People’s Strictly in 2015 and shared her story to 11 million viewers.

Describing the event Anna Kennedy said. “I don’t know how but the show gets better every year. The effect it has on the performers, their families and the audience is mind-blowing. You have to watch the show to experience what I am talking about. I’m so proud that I didn’t want it to end. This is a great opportunity for those with autism to get up on stage and really showcase what they can do. So often society views these people as difficult and uncommunicative, but this event will really dispel that myth”

Maggie Paterson, head of Pineapple Performing Arts said. “We are so pleased to be co-hosting this event. I have been truly amazed at how talented and committed these people are. They have shown us every year that we should never label people and always look for the best to come out naturally.”

Due to the ever popular and increasing demand, there will be roadshows taking place in St Ives in Cornwall on 14th July 2018 and in The Wirral on 23rd November, click here for details as applications are also open.

Anna Kennedy’s powerful speech – supporting PDA during peaceful protest on 15th May in Westminister

Anna Kennedy’s powerful speech – supporting PDA during peaceful protest on 15th May in Westminister

On 15th May 2018, I participated in a peaceful protest in Westminster and here was my speech in Parliament Square on Pathological Demand Avoidance:

My first encounter of PDA was listening and meeting Elizabeth Newson in Birmingham many years ago and also learning about Semantic Pragmatic Language Disorder within the same conference.I have recently spoken to a mum on social media and she was blaming herself feeling she had done something wrong because of the difficulties she was having with her son at school and his behaviour at home. She is one of many parents that I have spoken to that had felt this way.

In my opinion its about awareness and again early intervention is crucial to support the child school and the family. If you don’t know about PDA you can as a parent start to blame yourself. The more people that are aware of PDA the more they can make informed judgements. Training and consistency in PDA is key.

A diagnosis again in my opinion is important and serves a number of purposes – it informs our teaching it helps the parents understand the nature of the difficulties (they are desperate to help, remember, and are seeking to learn more about how to do that); and it can help secure support in the form of an EHCP and funding if needed.

Without it we as a community are vulnerable ill-informed . I remember vividly across social media response from teachers when a documentary on Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA) went out on Channel 4 – Born Naughty a while back? In episode one a child had been permanently excluded from school after threatening to kill other pupils and a six-year-old who exhibited challenging behaviour at the slightest thing. I watched a backlash of comment after comment blaming “permissive teachers”, “poor parenting” and “naughty children who just didn’t want to be told no”.

Again without the understanding of a child’s needs informing how teachers and parents work with children and how we best support their needs there is always the possibility that a certain proportion of children will be written off sadly in this way. As a charity I believe it would be wrong to say that no progress has been made in recognising and supporting PDA, we think there is alot more that must be done.

Speaking to my husband Sean who offers legal advice to families he shares :

Whilst it would be wrong to say that no progress has been made in recognizing and supporting PDA, we think there is a lot more that must be done. To illustrate this, let me share with you some of the problems he has encountered when supporting families-
starting with obtaining a diagnosis.

Many of the people here will understand the problems adults and child have accessing diagnostic services. But as far as PDA is concerned these difficulties are compounded because of both lack of awareness and (regrettably!!) possibly a reluctance to provide a PDA diagnosis in favour of, for example, ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder) – a disorder which doesn’t seem to acknowledge the behavioural impact of anxiety and impaired social communication.

Without the correct diagnosis, the people we support will often not be given the correct provision. This means their needs are not met and this directly affects their life chances and wellbeing.

In schools and post-16 provisions, children and young people denied the correct support can often be labeled as “difficult”, “challenging” or even “violent”- regularly resulting in them being excluded. But that’s not the end of it.

We have seen many such children with PDA who have also come to the attention of social service, and the correct support has not been provided. In the worst cases this results levels of intrusion can be wholly destructive as they can lead to the break-up of the family.

Having failed through no fault of their own in education, many adults are either left unsupported or with inadequate support from social care. Whilst mental health services may try to understand an adult, our experience is that they can be even more reluctant to diagnose and support PDA in adulthood. Hence the cycle of imposed failure can continue. One of the consequences of this is that, adults with PDA will often be unsuccessful in finding employment.

This is why we very much support this initiative. Increasing awareness and of PDA is a necessity and not an option. Service providers cannot allow themselves the luxury of being unsure how to support PDA.

The clock is ticking and has been for years – the time for action is now!

Winners of the The International Achievers Awards 2017

Winners of the The International Achievers Awards 2017

On Saturday 8th July Anna Kennedy Online were invited as finalists to The International Achievers Awards in London…

Anna Kennedy Online won charity of the year! Please click here for more details from The Daily Brit.

 

We would like to say a HUGE thank you to everyone that voted for us – your support is really appreciated.