Celebrating excellence with all the winners, there were categories ranging from The Lifetime Award to the Parent/Carer of the year, below is the full list of winners – read more about the winners and the highly commended in each category:
Special Recognition: Jaco Mylan
Jaco Mylan son of Richard Mylan is 12 years on the autism spectrum. When Richard diagnosed Richard was thrown into personal turmoil. He had to re-think his hopes and dreams for his son when he was just four years old. Richard and Jaco: Life With Autism was an intimate documentary that was aired on BBC1 nationally in May 2017 and showed the transition as Jaco moved from primary to secondary school. It tells a personal story of life for autistic children and their families. Jaco struggles with noise and often wears protective headphones. He likes wind farms, rugby and washing machines – and one of the things he loves the most is the order and routine of Cardiff Market, where he’s a regular visitor at closing time. This raised autism awareness nationally deserves a special recognition in how amazing this young man is and the positive impact he has made.
Outstanding Achievement Award
Winner: Siarlot Hall – Teacher in an ASD unit in Bridgend
Siarlot has been a lifeline for the family and many other families over the past 20 years. Her commitment to improving lives through education at the unit and within the community is simply remarkable.
Leaways ARC – Clapton ASD Unit
Since her son started at the school he has made so much progress and he is now happy and content and learning to deal with different situations in a positive manner.
Aurora House Centre for Children with Autism in London
They genuinely care not only about the children but the whole family. They are all amazing people who have made a lasting impression and clearly demonstrate that the children and families are an important part of their life and they are always there for you.
People’s Hero Award
Winner: Charlie Matthews
Charlie is a 13-year-old girl with Autism and ADHD and is an incredible young woman. As a young child Charlie was dangerously underweight and emotionally disconnected. Charlie has steadily become such a strength and inspiration for young women of today. Charlie is constantly fundraising and supporting other young disabled children all over the world. She appeared on ‘This Morning’ campaigning for the understanding of Autism.
Maria Cook – Autism Support Crawley
Maria is chairperson of Autism Support Crawley and is completely voluntary. She is tirelessly committed to her own son on the spectrum as well as the charity, local projects and within the community. Maria is the autism ambassador for Gatwick Airport and has been a key person for this.
Richard has an extremely hard work ethic, dedicated to numerous charities all while juggling a TV/stage career and being an amazing father to his son Jaco. Most recently Richard was filmed for an intimate documentary called ‘Richard and Jaco Life with Autism’ this aired on the BBC and was a great success.
Sibling of the Year Award
Winner: April Butterworth
April is a very dedicated member of staff and has a passion for supporting people with Autism, particularly her brother. She bravely presented to a parent group to enhance their understanding and help them to see things from the perspective of the sibling of a child with autism.
Kenny nominated Macauley who is 20 years old. He helps at home with his brother Owen who has a diagnosis of autism. Macauley takes his brother to the cinema and keeps him entertained when he finds situations difficult. Macauley is also on the autism spectrum and helps his mum who has ME and epileptic seizures.
For many years Luke witnessed some very challenging situations and physical abuse from his sister who has Aspergers with Sensory Integration Dysfunction that should have not been bestowed on a young person especially with a disability himself. Despite all the years of difficulties Luke graduated university with a first. Luke has been a rock for his mum and sister and has shown strength and compassion which has kept his family together. His mum is so proud of the young man is has become and through all the struggles in his life he has said he has always loved his sister and they are finally living with their ‘Happy Ever After’
Winner: Amanda West
In Beau’s words (Amanda’s son)… I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and mummy has had to deal with every day since. My brother Eden is 22 and is autistic, my brother Brogan is 20 and has aspergers, my sister Jordan has aspergers, my brother Rafen is really annoying and has ADHD, I also have 2 sisters Chay and Harris. I have autistic traits and my mum looks after all of us! We all love singing and dancing and mummy has spent her whole life making sure we can do this; she tells us ‘We can do anything’!!!!
Sarah works as a PCSO for South Wales Police working long hours and cares for not only her 3 children but Neil’s 3 children as well. She created a magical world for her son Thomas ‘The Adventures of Thomas and the Blanket’ to help him understand a trip to the dentist or hairdresser. She is also trying to roll out a new safe place scheme for people with Autism.
Holly is nominating Barbara who has a son with aspergers syndrome and lives at home, and a daughter with autism. Barbara also looks after her mother who is poorly. She is always so positive and happy which her children follow and they are very happy.
Outstanding Achievement Award in Sport
Winner: Sandro Ballesteros
Throughout Sandro’s karting journey there have been tough times, trying to fit in with normal day to day activities in life battling with learning difficulties. Sandro has overcome many of his fears and now comes to team karting with new found confidence. Lots of Sandro’s friends also have autism and Sandro helps them with their fears and confidence issues.
Austin Riley, Canada
In 2013 Simon was astounded to find out that someone with autism was a karting driver, so he wrote a feature about it in Karting magazine. What a life Austin has led as well as changing perceptions of what autistic people can achieve and by winning 3 regional karting championships.This season Austin is racing in the Nissan Micra Cup and is eager to prove he can be competitive in cars.
Personal Achievement Award
Winner: Sam Storey
Sam has a diagnosis of Aspergers, life became difficult during sixth form, the social rules changed with parties, larger groups, relationships and pressure from the exams. Sam suffered with severe depression and was hospitalized.Sam is now a youth activist for young minds and writing their blog and speaking at the House of Parliament about the impact of cyber bullying.
Daniel has autism. He was bullied at school, in the rugby team and neighbourhood children when he was 9. His sister began the diagnosis process for autism and then he decided he did not want his little sister or anyone else to go through what he had gone through so he started raising awareness. Daniel raised funds for charities and prepared a powerpoint presentation on his experiences and presented this to his local schools. Due to his efforts he has managed to help several local families, he would like to advocate for families when he is older.
Siena is 15 years old and she is passionate about supporting and mentoring children with learning difficulties and autism. Siena is autistic, dyslexic and has dyspraxia. When Siena was 13 years old she created a child friendly website www.qlmentoring.com to support and mentor kids. Siena has experienced lots of bullies so she is focussing on providing anti-bullying advice so that others don’t have to experience what she went through.
Winner: Uta Frith
Professor Uta Frith is an Emeritus Professor of Cognitive Development at UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience since 2006. Uta has been a visiting professor at the university of Aarhus at the Interacting Mind Centre. Uta is still as fascinated with autism and dyslexia as ever, she really enjoyed making BBC2 Horizon programme ‘Living with Autism’ and she also presented another BBC2 Horizon programme in OCD ‘A Monster in the Mind’.
Donna loves and has spent a life time supporting children and young adults with community projects and social events. Her efforts are valued by everyone since she is the face that can be relied on always within the community. Donna also has a son on the autism spectrum. Donna is loved by everyone and goes over, above and beyond her call of duty.
Siarlot has made such a difference not only to Samantha’s daughter but she has been a lifeline to the family and countless other families over the past 20 years. Siarlot has a warm and kind nature so you instantly feel that you can talk to her about anything. She organises courses and other events so that parents have all the tools and strategies possible in order to cope with life living with an autistic adult or child.
Leading Business Award
Winner: Berkeley Homes
Berkeley Homes has had a relationship with Buckinghamshire County Council since 2014. It involves autistic individuals being offered paid 8 week placements at the company’s finance department. Everyone who has been on the programme has been offered permanent employment afterwards. Before working with Berkeley, Simon felt useless, he was offered a job and stayed for a year, the Berkeley team showed him great patience. Simon has since been offered a permanent job at Gorkana and is now a happier and more confident person.
Chris would like to nominate the company boss at Team Karting. They have created an atmosphere which welcomes people with autism, to interact and make new friends and also in turn their parents meeting other in similar situations to theirs. They offer local tours of the track for autistic people to make them feel comfortable on their first visit and then meet their key worker who will be on site.Team Karting also hosted Racing with Autism Day where 50 students from 7 local schools attended the track to meet Canadian Karting Champion Austin Riley who has Autism.
Maria Box (nominator) has been having to change her son Ryan aged 9 years’ nappy on the floor of the disabled toilet in her shopping centre due to their not being the right facilities. She met with Mark the General manager of the County Mall who was disgusted with this news. After Maria fundraising nonstop to fund a changing place she was nowhere near the amount required, at last some good news Mark said the county mall were going to pay the rest. Mark is not about bringing in the extra people to spend in the shops etc, he cares more for the human rights of the shoppers and their families, he is now also in talks to bring relaxed shopping as well as inclusion. This man is a Hero…
Top Journalism Award
Winner: Chris Bonnello
The blog and articles Chris writes ( www.autisticnotweird.com) are extremely helpful to anyone that wishes to know more about Autism Spectrum Condition. He writes with honesty and offers an insight on what it is like to live with Aspergers. His work is inspirational, educational and extremely useful.He offers advice and support to anyone growing up on the spectrum, their families, teachers etc and gives talks to various support groups.
Special Needs Jungle is a parent led award winning blog and resource aimed at parents and those who work with children diagnosed with Special Education Needs. They are over 20,000 followers. It was founded by Tania Tirraoro and all the columnists and helpers work on a voluntary basis. Special Needs Jungle creates easy to understand resources, articles and information to help parents to navigate the special needs system. This resource has been a lifeline to many families across the country.
Wendy has nominated Craig for the inspiring journalism award for his article published in SEN Magazine called ‘Excluded by Inclusion’. This article demonstrated that Craig has a depth of knowledge and understanding regarding difficulties. Kids with ASD can experience when included in mainstream education. Many issues highlighted resonated with Wendy’s daughter, very stressful experience in education. Wendy believes Craig’s article raised important issues that were ignored in her daughter’s experience and did not support her social and emotional developmental in fact they were ignored to the detriment of her mental health and wellbeing.
Online Social Network Award
Winner: Gemious Ltd
The Chewigem Facebook page is an amazing online resource for many families and professionals with over 18,000 people worldwide. It is a large community that help each other with advice and experiences. There have been lots of friendships formed, knowledge, ideas, support and resources shared. With a mix of parents, autistic teenagers, adults, educators and health care professionals it is a great place to find information and support. In such a short space of time it has become a truly successful online social network.
Luis chose an extremely effective way to raise autism awareness by using the online social network. Luis and Sandra are parents of an incredible 7-year-old Huillo who has a diagnosis of autism. They have set up this website so others can enjoy their journey with their son. Huillo loves Coldplay and they shared a video that was seen by millions of their son watching the group and was overcome with emotion. Music is a powerful tool.
Spectrum Club Northamptonshire
Spectrum Club Northamptonshire is an online Facebook group for families of children with autism. In addition to social support online they run activities in the school holidays for the whole family. Spectrum club is a safe place where parents can share different days and achievements. It is a lifeline for parents especially in the holidays since you can find lots of advice and support 24/7. It is a special place with a big heart.
Outstanding Community Award
Winner: Donna Swan
Donna deserves an award for all her hard work she does for Calmer Therapy, a community group. She is the founder that helps children diagnosed with autism and their families. She has 2 children on the autism spectrum and works 3 jobs but still manages to volunteer her time to run Calmer Therapy. Donna organises clubs, activities and trips where many families have experienced a trip with their child for the first time. Donna is an amazing woman and a massive lifeline to families in Northumberland.
Siarlot has been a lifeline to countless families over the past 20 years. She goes out of her way for parents and families as well as the children in her care. She works with the wider community helping families who have autistic children in SEN and often mainstream schools. Here amazing work within the school and the wider community illustrates dedication to autism as a whole. There truly is no-one like her.
Healthcare Professional Award
Winner: Sally Glossop
Sally has dedicated her entire career to supporting and championing young people with autism. She is like today’s version of Mary Poppins flying into the team supporting schools and students who face challenges because of their autism. Her knowledge, practical approach and humour are second to none. Sally supports hundreds of parents, carers and young people without showing signs of stress. She makes everyone feel special and listened to. Sally needs to be recognised for her positive work and contribution to improving the lives of families living with Autism.
Perry contacted Autism Support Crawley to ask if we could help his surgery become more autism friendly. ASC worked very closely with Perry giving presentations to office staff and doctors and conducting surveys. Since the presentation Perry has been spreading the word constantly around other surgeries in Crawley through their practise manager’s meetings etc. Perry is always happy and smiling, he is passionate about his work and always ready to help and nothing is ever too much trouble.
Julie’s daughter Gemma hasn’t had very much help dealing with her autism until they were transferred over to adult services for Learning Disabilities. Andrea has gone above and beyond her job as a psychologist. She met with Gemma every week to do activities and help her with communication. Andrea has given Julie and Gemma coping strategies to help when Gemma becomes challenging and finds day to day living difficult. Gemma has made great improvements with Andrea’s help and support.