Anna Kennedy Online – Autism Awareness Charity
Walk for Autism 2022

Walk for Autism 2022

Walk for Autism 2022 – Inside the Orange Podcast meets Anna Kennedy Online


Our story with autism starts in 2008, when our son Jake was born. My wife Zoe and I had to learn about autism from a parent’s perspective and how to advocate for our son. His brother Liam was also amazing as he was the most understanding and compassionate that I have ever seen in a sibling.

What we learnt from Jake’s diagnosis was how to understand people and I took that into the world as a podcast. Autism has always been at the backbone of the podcast as I believed it did help me understand other people so much better than if we did not have it in our lives.

We met Anna on the podcast in 2021 and we talked about her petition of who would look after her children when she is no longer around, and this petition really spoke to us.

During the chat we mentioned that we like to fundraise every year and last year we raised over £1,000 for the National Autistic Society and talking to Anna and seeing what great work that Anna Kennedy Online did, we wanted to do something in 2022 for that charity.

Then it came time to plan our fundraiser. We had completed seventeen miles around Milton Keynes in May 2021 for NAS but wanted to go bigger.

So, we had the idea to walk from Leicester City’s King Power Stadium to Watford’s Vicarage Road Stadium (Rich is a huge Watford fan, so, this was something big for him to do), we wanted to coincide the walk with the fixture between the same teams in May 2022, so we would start at one stadium and finish before kick-off of the match at the other stadium.

Walk for Autism 2022

We knew we needed help, so we called upon our friend and experienced charity walker, Godwin ‘Goddo’ DeBattista, who had just completed a 165 mile walk across the country. We started planning…

With huge thanks to Anna, Jo Wiggins, Dave Messenger (from Watford) & Jim Donnelly (From Leicester City), we managed to set up the walk and we started on the 13th of May 2022 inside the King Power Stadium.

Day One, dressed in our fantastic kits supplied by Born Anxious, was a 32.5 mile walk from Leicester to Wootton in Northamptonshire, which took us 11.5 hours to complete. It was a challenging day as it was 20+ miles of rural walking, but with the help of the social media support we managed to get it done in good time and set us up for a great day two.

On Day Two, we were joined by four other walkers (friends) who joined us from Northampton through Milton Keynes into Leighton Buzzard as we completed another 32.5 mile walk in another 12-hour walking day. The views of the Grand Union Canal and our friends, visits with refreshments from Rich’s lovely wife, Zoe were enough to get us through a tough but enjoyable day two.

On the final day, we started at 4am and after another 17.5 miles of walking at midday were met in Watford by Anna, Jo, Lucy, Rich & Goddo’s family and friends, as well as Watford FC legend, Luther Blissett, Watford Mayor, Peter Taylor and MP of Watford, Dean Russell for the final mile to the Graham Taylor statue outside Vicarage Road Stadium to complete this epic walk.

We are delighted to support such a great charity who have helped us every step of the way and given us the opportunity to create something as unique and wonderful as this walk.

Easy exam breathing and massage stress busters

Easy exam breathing and massage stress busters

Easy exam breathing and massage stress busters

An article by our Well-being Ambassador Giuliana Wheater and her video!

It is that time of year again where GCSE’s and A levels begin.

As if Covid has not been enough to deal with, robbing our children of huge chunks of their education not to mention emotional and social growth, we now have many of our neurodiverse young people going through this sausage meat, one size fits all system without a formal diagnosis or any support whatsoever due to waiting lists of 3-5 years.

We need to stay as strong and positive as we can. Whenever I feel overwhelmed or sick with anxiety, I look at my hand and think to myself “Ok, outside of my hand is what I can’t control or change – but inside my hand is what I can do to handle this.”

By putting the body and brain in a proactive rather than reactive state, this will automatically reduce that chance for fight or flight to kick in.

The very discreet, easy breathing and self-massage techniques I have shared this week all stimulate non adrenaline which is the chief combat to stress.

Serotonin (the neurotransmitter of happiness, confidence, self-esteem) as well as dopamine (the neurotransmitter of concentration, attention, focus, clarity of thought) are both pushed up from the gut and into the brain.

Blood and oxygen are also pushed up into the brain just surging it with focus and concentration.

I so feel for you all. You have all been through so much. Just please remember you can only do your best and that SO SO much learning is done outside of four classroom walls. These exams certainly do not define you.

I am living proof of that. Not only did I invent my own job, but I now give talks and webinars all over the world on neuroscience …. And I barely scraped my science GCSE!

YOU define you and getting exams purely shows you can pass exams and tick boxes. It does not encourage learners or seekers.

Employers now do not just look at exam grades. They look at other skills like hyper focus, team building, passion, emotional and social intelligence.

I am a recent training I did we were told that the statistics are “IQ may get you the job but EQ (emotional intelligence) and SQ (social intelligence) will get you the promotion “.

So, I am thinking of you all over the coming weeks and I believe in you ALL.

Just do your best in an outdated system where no one really thrives and know that not only do you have the best and longest Summer ahead but the rest of your amazing lives too!

Take care, Giuliana xx




Arm stroking - always downwards

Arm stroking – always downwards 

Arm stroking - always downwards

Arm stroking – always downwards 

Arm squeezing – always downwards

Neck massaging or stretching

Neck massaging or stretching 

Hair squeezing

Hair squeezing 

Centre of palm rotations

Centre of palm rotations 

East London after school club incident

East London after school club incident

East London after school club incident

An eight-year-old black boy from Greenleaf After School Club in Walthamstow, east London, was made to clean his five-year-old sister after she soiled herself despite toilets being nearby. The mother of the boy labelled the incident ‘humiliating and racist’. A mother has hit out after her eight-year-old son was forced to clean his five-year-old sister after she soiled herself at an after-school club. Click here for the full article.

BBC investigation has revealed that the boy, who attended Greenleaf After School Club in Walthamstow, east London, told his mum he was made to clean excrement off his sister’s leg in front of other pupils, despite toilets being nearby.

The Good Law Project now hopes to raise £30,000 to pay for a leading law firm to “fight for justice for her family”, as well as to support other families in similar circumstances, and has already raised more than £1,000 in one day. Click here for more details.

Mala Thapar shared: “This was an appalling situation to read about and in full admiration of the mother taking further action. This is unacceptable and humiliating to any child and hope that the Good Law Project get justice for this family. The word “inclusive” tends to get used as a tick box exercise consistently, but unfortunately not always practiced. How can any service support Black and Brown children when subjected to this level of humiliation at such an early age?”

Anna Kennedy Online have created a survey and we must hear your views. Please click here to complete this brief survey and share with it your friends and family. 

Mental health musings of an autistic mind- article by Tess Eagle Swan

Mental health musings of an autistic mind- article by Tess Eagle Swan

Mental health musings of an autistic mind – an article by Tess Eagle Swan

Mental health

What does it mean to me? Autistic me.

It is a battle ship that sails on often stormy seas. Sometimes the storms are so ferocious the ship is full of water and feels like sinking. Smashed by waves of overwhelming and meltdown, drowning in misunderstandings, crashing into rocks of bad communication, hurled by winds of rejection, unacceptance and judgment.

Click here to read the full article.

Please click here for details of Tess’s book.

Mental health awareness week – Daniel Docherty

Mental health awareness week – Daniel Docherty

Mental health awareness week – an article by Daniel Docherty

Mental health, a term too often dispersed and spread around nonchalantly in 21st century society. A term utilised manipulatively by marketing companies and social media to lure the public into a false sense of sincerity. A term attributed to the functioning of an enigmatic part of human existence that experts still don’t fully understand.

This then begs the question, what is this complex concept known as mental health? Despite its popularity and elevation to the status of a ‘buzzword,’ it does have a practical application and effect in the real world. Mental health is a state of mind. Good mental health is in essence a state of mind in which balance and order are present and disturbances are kept to a minimum. It is the state in which your mind is healthy.

Just like the health of our physical bodies, good mental health and well-being is vitally important to our existence and quality of life as a whole. If this state of psychological homeostasis is not achieved, it can have detrimental effects on one’s life and potentially devastating outcomes. Almost everyone on this planet experiences adversities and disturbances to their mental state to varying degrees and for differing durations, but most overcome these difficult times in their life. For others, the adversities are chronic and can even result in a more egregious fate.

On a macro scale it has reached the level of a pandemic with nearly every country experiencing heightened numbers of suicides and people availing of social and psychological services. The phenomenon also seems to be getting younger as well. This can in part be explained by a society that breeds the notion of acceptance and awareness without substance and sufficient supports in place.

This can also be explained by environmental changes such as the rise of technology and social media, greater disparities in wealth, pollution, the modern diet, and a transition from a collective society unified by common goals and beliefs to one that has become highly globalised and hyper fixated on individualism. While this has never been perfect, societies now more than ever tend to lack a coherent bond, identity, and inherently genuine support system for those who are suffering in silence from an invisible virus.

From a Psychological perspective, this chronic level of adversity and disturbance to an individual’s mental state is pervasive throughout many neurodevelopmental and other cognitive related conditions such as Autism, Anxiety Disorder, Depression, ADHD, OCD etc. Many people like myself who have conditions like these battle on a daily basis to try and achieve some kind of balance or stability in their cognition, despite often giving off the appearance that they are in a state of mental homeostasis.

With all that said the chance of a good quality of life can seem hopeless for some. A seemingly predetermined life of despair and suffering. Contrary to this line of thinking, it does not have be that way as there are positive changes that can be implemented. For those who are fortunate enough to be in a good state of mental health and genuinely care about others well-being, you can help by raising awareness of the issues and pushing for a better healthcare system.

You can also look out for and try to help people who are close to you that may be struggling, whether it be your family, friends, or neighbours. Despite this we do ultimately live in an individualised society and often times it is only you who can truly improve your own mental health by bringing about positive changes in your own life.

While it is easier said than done here are some things you can do in your own life to instigate a positive change going forward. Try to get at least eight hours of sleep each night. Try to make small improvements to your diet, whether that is eating more, eating less, or changing the types of foods you eat to be healthier. Try to reduce time spent on social media platforms such as Instagram, where everyone’s lives can seem perfect. Try to exercise as much as possible, whether that is in the form of joining a sport, lifting weights in the gym, or even just going for a short walk every day, as it can improve your physical and mental state. Another key technique is to try and focus on only the things that are in your control.

All too often we get fixated and worried about events that we cannot do anything about which further plays into our negative thinking patterns. It is about breaking these patterns by taking a hold of things that we can control. For instance, we cannot control what others will do or say, but we can control how we choose to react. Another helpful strategy is to plan out your day as best as you can by creating a daily routine and attempting to stick to it as best as possible.

This should reinforce positive change as we are taking back control of our lives. Try also to find something that you excel at and/or are passionate about and try to set small realistic goals that are attainable in order to improve your skills and build confidence in your life.

You can also use rewards for these goals to help incentivise the process. This will help fill your time, keeping your mind occupied and focused on improving yourself going forward. As you progress you should start to gain confidence in yourself and your abilities resulting in increased self-esteem and self-worth.

In conclusion it is not easy to make these changes to improve your mental state and takes a lot of hard work to change your life for the better, but once you achieve these goals you should be well on your way to obtaining a state of good mental health. Although these methods and strategies can be effective, it is still important to talk to someone you trust or a healthcare professional such as a psychologist. And always remember never give up!

Author: Mala Thapar