Anna Kennedy Online – Autism Awareness Charity
Mental Health Awareness Week – an article by Kieron Lee

Mental Health Awareness Week – an article by Kieron Lee

Mental Health Awareness Week – an article by Kieron Lee

I am writing this article for Anna Kennedy Online, to raise the much-needed awareness for Mental Health, this week, and every week. It is no secret that I have a diagnosis of Autism, ADHD as well as a Mixed Anxiety and Depressive disorder. You can imagine, that managing all of these is extremely difficult.

For years I have struggled with severe mental health issues; in 2018 I attempted suicide by taking an overdose, there have been similar events like this before. At the time I felt empty yet full of emotions that I just could not bear, I would describe autism and emotions like “Superman and Kryptonite;” emotions are my Kryptonite. I often question and have never quite understood the reasoning behind my sometimes-erratic response to events that have occurred throughout my life.

The way I feel is often overwhelming, I have strong feelings that lead to me being very emotional, almost like an empath is how I would describe it. Sometimes the world just gets too much, and I just need to come off it for a bit. 

In times when I feel so low, I have my mother, who has honestly been my biggest supporter, critique, best friend, and rock that constantly holds me to the ground when I lose a sense of gravity. I have a lot of friends and even family that weren’t/are not lucky enough to have the relationship with their mum that I do with mine, and I will forever be so lucky for that.

Weeks when I do not feel so great you best believe I am able to write the best lyrical content, the ability to do that makes me feel so much lighter. I often “meditate” with the piano and a beautiful chord progression which is so soothing for the mind. Also, getting stuck into coursework really helps! But it is honestly, the love for music and the people that I am so lucky to have around me that keeps me strong.

I met the wonderful Anna and team back in 2016 whilst we were working on our superb charity album “Building Bridges”, which was a significant and memorable time in my life. Since then, I have continued to support and work with the charity.

Anna and all the team have played a huge part in shaping the person I have become today, and I could not be more thankful for the opportunities that have been given to me through Anna Kennedy Online, and their amazing work and I feel so proud to be a part of the AKO family. I am aware of the progress and huge difference that I have made.

If I can do it, you can too! Never give up. I am now on top of the world with an amazing new friend group, in the process of finalising my EP ready for release in the Summer (Keep your eyes peeled) and I am ready to start university next year, where I will be working towards achieving my degree in Popular Music. 

I would like to encourage everyone to spread love and positivity in a world that really needs it. Especially right now. I also ask that you try to be the best advocate for mental health that you possibly can be. Be super thankful for your neighbours, thankful for your friends and family. Most importantly be thankful for yourself and know that you have huge value. Try to appreciate the little things in life as much as you can even when you feel like it is impossible. Stay strong. Reach out when you need it. You are not alone. 

For more information on mental health services, please visit: https://www.nhs.uk/nhs-services/mental-health-services/

Mental health awareness week – Mala Thapar

Mental health awareness week – Mala Thapar

Mental health awareness week – an article by Mala Thapar

It is Mental health awareness week 2022 – the theme for this year is “loneliness”. This article is to share concerns with the hope that this will comfort and encourage you to share your story as it could empower and benefit others.

I have been part of Anna Kennedy Online since 2012, recently the role of a culture campaign and communications officer for the charity. In April 2021, I attended an event about racism in SEND hosted by U21. Click here to read this. I spoke about lived-in experiences based upon racism within SEND.

For me, racism was finally on the agenda after the torrid murder of George Floyd. It was shocking witnessing comments from people whom I considered friends from inner circles when trying to have that “difficult conversation”. Subsequently, this led to a very lonely time in ways that I never imagined. Then the racist abuse aimed at the three English players who missed penalty kicks during the world cup was unforgivable.

Concurrently, I was fighting for my son’s educational rights. Thankfully, I had close and supportive friends and expressed my disappointment and shared my change of direction to avoid further offence after being made to feel like an outsider. I began networking with new people in safer spaces, and meeting like-minded people reinforced that I was not alone anymore.

Throughout many years, not much has changed. There have been countless examples of racism in the media, Seni and recently Child Q, which was despicable.

When you are a parent of a disabled child or young adult, you are already facing discriminative barriers; however, when you are from a different background, the discrimination is intolerable.

Parents regularly experience unconscious bias and are accused of being “aggressive”, with no understanding of cultural differences and no interest in learning why this exists among black and brown families. Microaggressions entwined with gaslighting are sadly part of everyday life when they should not be.

“The right support, right place, and right time”

Special Need Jungle published: The casual bias and daily discrimination faced by disabled children and their families from ethnic and marginalised communities. The content is accurate and shared with the DfE before the SEND review publication click here to read this report. The DfE published: “SEND review: right support, right place, right time”. When is the “right support, right place, right time” for families from marginalised communities? Despite factual evidence shared beforehand.

Dr Anna Kennedy OBE has consistently said: “Why should children with Autism be treated like second class citizens,” which is a fact.

My message is: “Why should the global majority of people with Autism be treated like third-class citizens”?

Anna Kennedy Online have created a survey we must hear your views.

Please click here to complete this brief survey and share it with your friends and family.

Mental Health Awareness Week 2022

Mental Health Awareness Week 2022

Mental Health Awareness Week 2022

It is the start of Mental Health Awareness Week this week and theme this year loneliness.

We can all feel alone sometimes, even when we are around other people. Longer-term loneliness can contribute to mental health conditions including anxiety and depression – making it difficult to connect with others. As a lot of services became accessible online throughout the lockdowns, it has become easier to connect with one another – as well as get access to mental health support.

A recent study by Boots that explores the changing attitudes of accessing mental healthcare online shows four in five patients (82%) would consider using digital services for mental health while 70% would prefer to talk to a doctor about their mental health or access therapy (72%) virtually rather than in person.

The number of adults experiencing depression and anxiety is still up on pre-pandemic levels, with an estimated 1.6 million3 people waiting to access mental health support on the NHS.

Unlike many physical illnesses, mental health issues cannot always be seen. Indicators that someone is suffering from mental health issues could include feeling sad or down for lengthy periods, withdrawal from friends, family and social activities, and feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Studies have found that increased loneliness in adults with autistic spectrum conditions is associated with increased depression and anxiety, and decreased life satisfaction and self-esteem, even when controlling for symptoms of autism.

Therefore, it is a vital area that needs to be addressed when considering how to improve the daily lives of adults on the autistic spectrum.

During this week we will be sharing articles from autistic individuals sharing their experiences.

Just breathe – by Giuliana Wheater

Just breathe – by Giuliana Wheater

Just breathe …

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

Four easy breathing techniques to ease stress and boost non adrenaline, focus and coping skills!

For many of us we are undergoing huge amounts of worry and stress right now. Some of our young people who are already so vulnerable to mental health issues following Covid are now also soon to undergo GCSE’s and A levels.

Those of us with children who are neurodiverse have proven stress and fatigue levels equivalent to soldiers back from front lines.

Those of us who are neurodivergent also have 2-6 x higher levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, than neurotypical people.

Mindful breathing techniques are so POWERFUL on many proven neuroscientific levels.

When we are stressed the blood and oxygen to the brain decreases by a massive by 40%! When we regularly practise breathing techniques it floods the body with party levels of blood and oxygen which boosts focus and perspective.

Mindful breathing stimulates non adrenaline, the enemy of cortisol. Non adrenaline boosts focus and positivity.

Serotonin and dopamine are pushed up from the gut, flooding our brains with focus, clear thinking, concentration, motivation, self-esteem, and perspective.

The grey matter around the amygdala/emotional brain/fear centre actually REDUCES!!! And what is even better is that the grey matter around the frontal lobe which contains all our higher or executive brain functions GROWS!!!! This has been proven through neural imaging and MRI scanning.

Heart rate and blood pressure even out whiling anxiety, depression, insomnia and even PTSD are eased considerably.

Our bodies and brains are just so PERFECTLY designed, I get SO EXCITED!! And we have all these powerful neuroscientific tools at our fingertips.

I absolutely love it!!

See you next week, lots of love, Giuliana xx

https://www.therapiesforspecialneeds.co.uk/

https://www.therapiesforspecialneeds.co.uk/rainbow-kids-club/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/rainbowtherapieskidsandfamilies/?exp=4a9f

Just breathe
Just breathe
Just breathe – by Giuliana Wheater

Yoga for meltdowns and overwhelm

Yoga for meltdowns and overwhelm 

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

This week it is my joy to share with you three very simple yoga poses which are absolutely FANTASTIC for meltdowns and overwhelm.

They focus on massaging and stretching the gut, which is where we store trauma, undigested “stuff” which we shove down for another day, anger, fear, dread, and excitement. Professor Michael Gershon is the leading researcher in this field and the immense benefits of yoga have also been proven by Tiffany Field, another scientific leader in this field.

The gut stores 90% of the body’s serotonin, the neurotransmitter of happiness, confidence, and self-esteem. It also contains absolutely TONNES of the body’s dopamine, the neurotransmitter of focus, attention, concentration, productivity, and that gorgeous feeling of reward.

When we massage the gut by doing these yoga poses it helps our children (and ourselves) gently manage those feelings which build up to overwhelm and meltdown. Particularly for nonverbal people or those who simply do not have the vocabulary to express their emotions, these poses are hugely beneficial.

When we do them it pushes those happy hormones and coping chemicals up into the brain via the vagus nerve which connects our first brain to our second brain in the gut. We can then process emotions in a more controlled way which will eventually lead to self-awareness, self-regulation, and self-management.

You can do all three of these assisted too, as you will see in this week’s video.

Have a happy week everyone. This is my last article now for the next two weeks, so I wish you all a fabulous Easter.

Take care and see you soon, Love, Giuliana

Charity Well-being Ambassador

https://www.therapiesforspecialneeds.co.uk/

https://www.therapiesforspecialneeds.co.uk/rainbow-kids-club/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/rainbowtherapieskidsandfamilies/

Yoga for meltdowns and overwhelm
Yoga for meltdowns and overwhelm
Yoga for meltdowns and overwhelm
Just breathe – by Giuliana Wheater

Bringing The Body to Stillness

Bringing The Body to Stillness

Gentle Massage for Overwhelm, Meltdowns and Mental Health.
Being Present.

 

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

Hello everyone,

Spring has arrived in the UK and the sunshine always fills us with such hope.

Sadly, the world remains a busier and more free based place at the moment and got most of us we carry enormous worries, strains, and mental health challenges. It has been a tough old couple of years.

If you are neurodivergent this can be doubly harder to navigate.

So how can we help ourselves and each other?

This week I have shared on my YouTube video how to gently massage your “still points” or “marma points.” You can use these even if you are not a trained massage therapist and you can also self-administer them which is incredibly empowering and leads to self-awareness, self-regulation, and self-management.

Always massage with the pads of your fingers, never your fingernails and all you need to do is gently rotate your fingers. It does not matter in which direction.

If you would like to use any oils, Ho Wood is a great mental and mental balancer and rosewood is like the most gorgeous warming cuddle in a bottle – really effective for any form of trauma.

Anyone in any circumstance or situation can use this touch. It is inclusive of everyone.

The more you use it, the deeper the long-term effects.

Sometimes we just need to take that step away from the world and bring ourselves to the NOW and to stillness, being fully present with ourselves.

It will boost you for the rest of the day and help you sleep much better too!!

Take care everyone,

Giuliana xx

https://www.therapiesforspecialneeds.co.uk/

Bringing The Body to Stillness
Mental Health and wellbeing Campaign