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Give Us A Break campaign videos 2021

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Anna Kennedy with Aston Avery interview Ben Pearson, founder of BigClothing4u all about  Anti bullying week 2021

An hour on Gateway 97.8 talking about anti bullying week, our Give Us A Break campaign and Harvey’s Law with two charity Ambassadors Aston Avery and Ben Pearson. We also played Macauley Elvin ‘Hollow’ Charity single.

Please watch the videos below:

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Give Us A Break: Part 1 of 3

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Give Us A Break: Part 2 of 3

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Give Us A Break: Part 3 of 3

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If you would like to spread the word of our Give Us A Break campaign please see below our campaign posters and it would be great if you could click on one of the images and download the poster and help us spread the message to support as many people as we can. 

You can so this by taking a photo or video of yourself and others by holding up one of the posters below either printed or show on your devices, then tag us in on social media. We would love for you to show your support to Anna Kennedy Online.

Please share and let us make a change – together we are stronger!

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Our overseas Ambassador Dani Bowman creates a powerful video for our Give Us A Break campaign 2021

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If you would like to spread the word of our Give Us A Break campaign please see below our campaign posters and it would be great if you could click on one of the images and download the poster and help us spread the message to support as many people as we can. 

You can so this by taking a photo or video of yourself and others by holding up one of the posters below either printed or show on your devices, then tag us in on social media. We would love for you to show your support to Anna Kennedy Online.

Please share and let us make a change – together we are stronger!

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All it takes is One Kind Word
An article Ben Pearson our charity Ambassador for Anti Bullying week 

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The CEO of Bigclothing4u and also an Ambassador for Anna Kennedy Online has an important message about the Give Us a Break campaign.

Ben says: “It’s important for us all to look out for one another because you never know what someone else is going through. We all have our own battles big or small that we are fighting. One Kind Word goes a long way to a friend or stranger. It really is powerful enough to make the difference between someone having a good or a bad day. I think it’s amazing that we all have the power to change someone’s day for the better. Why be hateful when you can be kind?”

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Ben’s article:

Anti-Bullying Week is back to remind us how we can make the world a brighter place for one another. Last year, Anti-Bullying Week trended as No.1 on Twitter with schools up and down the country spreading awareness to the effects of bullying. Putting a stop to bullying was at the forefront of everyone’s mind and we hope there will be an even bigger buzz this year. 

With 1 in 5 children in the UK experiencing bullying, Team BC4U is proud to be teaming up with Anna Kennedy Online for their amazing Give us a Break campaign. This campaign highlights how children and young people who are diagnosed with Autism can experience bullying at a higher rate than their peers.

The most crucial time this happens is during social breaks and lunch times while at school or college, which can already be a difficult time to navigate for the young people that might struggle with social interactions.

It’s no secret that Autism Awareness is something we strongly support and it goes without saying that we want to stamp out hatred and prejudice wherever possible. That’s why we wanted to get involved with the great work that Anna Kennedy Online achieves and join them in spreading awareness of the negative effects of bullying. On top of all of that, Team BC4U and our good friends at AKO want to make the world a kinder and brighter place for everyone.

This year’s Anti-Bullying theme is a wonderful message of “One Kind Word” with the aim to remind us that kindness creates kindness and all it takes is just one kind word. This theme hopes to change the course of the conversations we have, creating positive communication with the people around us and naturally making it harder for bullying to occur in the first place.

The great thing about this theme is just how easy it is to take part in. We urge you to try it out with friends, family or colleagues. Tell someone that you like their shoes or hair, or thank them for their hard work. Offer to make them a nice cup of tea or simply ask “How are you?” Watch as you instantly create a positive environment where more kindness grows.

There’s other ways you can take part in this year’s campaign by showing support on social media to get the message out there and recruit more people on our quest for kindness. You can always check the official anti-bullying alliance for some more tips on how you can get stuck in and say no to bullying.

Don’t forget that Anna Kennedy Online has some amazing t-shirts with designs that will brighten anyone’s day. Wear yours with pride knowing you’ve supported a fantastic cause and helped a charity be able to continue on with their hard and much needed work. Click here to purchase yours.

You can also show your support of Harvey’s Law with the Uptheir x Harvey’s Law collection, a law that is hoping to prosecute online trolls and bullies. Click here for details.

So put Anti-Bullying Week in your calendar, from Monday 15th of November to Friday 19th and join us in spreading kindness and acceptance to everyone around us.

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Give Us A Break – support our antibullying campaign

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It is anti-bullying Week from Monday 15th – Friday 19th November and the theme this year is “One Kind Word”.

Please see below our campaign posters and it would be great if you could click on one of the images and download the poster and help us spread the message to support as many people as we can.

You can so this by taking a photo or video of yourself and others by holding up one of the posters below either printed or show on your devices, then tag us in on social media. We would love for you to show your support to Anna Kennedy Online.

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Autism Diagnosis delays are across the media once again

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Autism Diagnosis delays are across the media once again. I have campaigned for many years on autism diagnosis, promises made however, very little action.

Anna Kennedy OBE Founder of autism services and her National Autism Charity was flooded with message across social media about wait times for an assessment for an autism diagnosis for their children. 

Parents are complaining of waiting between two and five years for a diagnosis for their child, and it is very much a “postcode lottery”,

Recently Anna read an article that in central London families were waiting over a year for just for a referral diagnosis, despite waiting time guidelines of three months. Anna share’s the Government has yet to complete past Health Secretaries vow to look at starting to officially record the figures.

Anna was told that their were complex reasons for the delays, including increased demand for the assessment which had increased “significantly” in the last few years due to wider awareness about autism.

More families may believe their children are on the spectrum due to charities like ours that are forging ahead to raise awareness and acceptance.

Anna shares the access to special needs services, which includes an educational psychologist’s report and a limited amount of free speech and language therapy on the NHS, appeared to be a “post code lottery.” 

Not all local authorities, health or education services provided equally strong support according to the parents she spoke to. Waiting a long time for a diagnosis meant a window for early intervention could be missed..

It has an impact on the child, it has an impact on the school, which doesn’t know what they are dealing with. It has an impact on the siblings, and obviously the family.” While some parents Anna has spoken to did avoid seeking a “label”, others told Anna of being dismissed.

This has got to change, we cannot go on like this.

Anna Kennedy OBE

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Its the start of Anti Bullying Month ‘Give us a Break!’

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Many autistic children are going back to school this week. Anna Kennedy OBE founder of a national autism charity has been contacted by parents where their children are refusing to go to school because of bullying at such an early stage of this academic year.

Anna shared: “Schools must take action so that children diagnosed with an autism spectrum condition feel safe in lessons and at break times. Autistic children are seen by their parents and carers as vulnerable to bullying. ‘Give us a Break’ is Anna Kennedy online anti bullying campaign. She calls on all schools and colleges to be particularly aware of the bullying that autistic students experience at break times and to provide positive activities that keep them safe.

Many autistic students need ‘structured activities’ which are currently seriously lacking at break times in schools. Many parents and carers said they would embrace positive activities as a constructive way of combating the bullying of their children.

For autistic children and young people, break and lunch times in schools and colleges can be particularly daunting and can put them at risk of bullying. Anna Kennedy Online the UK Charity is to continue raise awareness of bullying of children with autism in schools and colleges.”

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Anna shared: “Too often these children are seen as the problem; as not ‘fitting in’ or ‘settling down.’ We want to see all schools take decisive action to create environments and cultures where all children feel safe, accepted and supported without fear of bullying.

Autistic children should not be allowed to coast along without appropriate support until anxieties become so great that it leads to challenging behaviour both at home and school. Training, awareness and acceptance is key”.

Click here to purchase your T shirts and support our campaign

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Life in lockdown – an article by our charity supporter Sarah Smith

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One of the most common things I hear as an Autism mum is ‘I know someone’ or ‘My mum used to work with them’. Do you know what, that is great. The second most common thing I hear is, ‘I know it must be hard’. Do you?

Hard does not even come close to what this is. But would I change it? Not a chance!

All 3 of my boys live at home with me. Their Dad and I separated three years ago. Oliver is 18, he has Autism, Cerebral Palsy and Learning Delay. Evan is 14, has Autism, learning delay, Pica and is completely non-verbal. Will is 11, he is a registered young carer, and he adores his brothers.

Lockdown has been a journey like no other. With reduced timetables, remote learning and staying at home being the new norm, my anxiety has been fuelled to new levels about the boy’s ability to cope. But was it really my ability to cope that should have been questioned?

One of Oliver’s biggest trigger points is not being able to get a definitive answer when he asks a question. As an English and Drama teacher, this sometimes frustrates me that he cannot expand his mind and see a level of creativity I know he would love. So, when he asks me ‘When am I going back to school?’ and I cannot answer him, he becomes incredibly frustrated, fuelling his repetition and echolalia.

Oliver has always had a huge attachment to me, for many reasons, and some days he struggles to cope with me not being in his line of sight. Lockdown has massively fuelled this, and his anxieties have definitely increased but we have spent more time together, I feel like I have learnt more about him as a young man, he turned 18 in 2020, and we have laughed a lot!

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As a working mum, a special needs mum, it is incredibly hard to balance everything around school runs, hospital appointments, work, being a partner…

You are expected to work like you do not have children and raise children like you do not work. And that is just with mainstream, neurotypical students, let alone those with additional needs. The reality is that it is a hell of a lot harder than that.

One thing I would say about being a mum to special needs children during lockdown is the loss of any identity we have managed to cling on to. I mean, when you have children you almost automatically lose your name and become John or Emma’s mum.

Kids have walked past me in the street and gone, ‘Alright Oliver’s mum!’.

For those of us that are able to work, that one part of us that’s ours may well have had to be put on a backburner.

Those who are full time carers to their children, and with schools being on reduced timetables and in bubbles, the uncertainty around what we can say to reassure our vulnerable young people can seem to have been overlooked.

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However, lockdown has been frustrating for him. Total uncertainty and lots of extra time at home, Evan has always thrived in a setting be it soft play, school, or swimming. He is a proper little fish in the water.

He is really intelligent and needs to be constantly stimulated. A bored Evan is an Evan that will display behaviours that indicate how frustrated he is with the world, and like Oliver this can manifest itself in self harm or aggression towards someone. None of which is meant, and they always apologise for themselves after a meltdown.

But lockdown has given me time with my boys. It has given me a chance to get to know them again and we have definitely become closer as a family. Evenings spent on the sofa, Oliver laughing at whatever is on TV, while Evan stretches out so I can rub his feet.

The situation at the moment is far from normal but that’s ok. Normal is boring. I would rather love every second with my unique boys and we will get through all of this together.

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Life in Lockdown – an article by our Patron Steven Smith

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It’s raining hard on the windows of my apartment and the sky outside is getting darker. It almost looks like nightfall, but in reality it’s only two o’clock in the afternoon on a cold February afternoon. I have an ominous feeling coming on. My outlook is normally optimistic, but things are just starting to get to me.

The last lockdown seemed less of a challenge. During the summer, the daily outdoor exercise was fun, and it seemed like we were all working together to beat the virus. Now, with winter on our doorsteps, running outside  in order to work out seems less enticing. This is a chaotic time. The mixed messages being given out , the refusal of those in charge to stand up and admit mistakes we could learn from, and no really clear picture as to when there is going to be light at the end of the tunnel: all these things are making me and many sensible people feel agitated.

Looking at social media, I can see that I am not alone. Even the hard-core fighters in life that I admire and who lead with a smile of positivity seem to be pleading for a moment of normality, or at least a glass of vino in the company of friends.

Being on my own has never been a problem. From an early age, both my parents worked,

like many of the ‘60s generation. Both my sister and I learned to be self-reliant. (Something that I am grateful for as it made me capable of coping with isolation and looking after myself.)

Still, it was amusing to see how many people immediately thought of me when the lockdown happened. With all social venues and event arenas shut, just what was the ever-partying Steven going to do to survive?

In fairness, if you scan my social media over the last decade, on reflection, it does give Paris Hilton a run for her money. What people do not realise is, the many events are either charity led or an opening for friends’ films or book launches. Or I’m networking. The pub or the club are not somewhere you will usually find me.

Socially, my dream is watching a boxset curled up with a friend, or spending quality time chatting. Maybe just me having a bath, or popping my sweatpants on, writing or relaxing. For me, that is pure bliss.

Many people fail to see I’m actually quite shy at heart. I have learnt to seem vivacious and confident over the years, but it isn’t my natural demeanour. Recently, I admitted to being shy, and was criticised: how could a 50-odd man admit to this? My reply was that being shy does not detract from being a man; it makes you more of a man to know who you are.

Up to now I have been writing my third book, Tracy B Gets Hacked, and it’s taken four months to write. I keep sending chapters to one of my closest friends, Pam Sharrock, whom I text or chat to daily, and she is giving her feedback.

Face-time has been amazing, and friends have been calling. Sherrie Warwick, my great friend and make-up artist to the stars, calls up, sometimes twice a day, to catch up. My sister Karen Roberts checks on me daily too.

Face-time almost seems like something from Star Trek. Imagine our predecessors reactions , not so long ago, who used to send telegrams or make a phone call by (literally) dialling with their forefinger, often at great expense.

Keeping to a routine has helped me get through this. I am up and ready by six o’clock.

Then I sit down and watch the voice of reason throughout this pandemic, Piers Morgan on GMB. Much as I do not agree with his stance on mental health, he has talked perfect sense throughout this. He is asking the questions we all want asking.

Today I’m doing my monthly radio show with one of my heroes, Aston Avery, live on Gateway Radio. Aston and his family, mum Dawn and dad Keith, are great friends, whom I met for the first time at “Autism Got Talent”, organised by Anna Kennedy online. In fact, the charity is personally run by my friend Anna Kennedy who, five years ago, asked me to be a patron. It’s a great honour to be part of Anna’s incredible work.

On this month’s show we have some incredible items. Among the guests there’s Sherrie Hewson (Benidorm, Coronation Street). We’re also going to be chatting about Katie Price becoming an ambassador for Anna Kennedy online, and the wonderful documentary from the BBC looking at Katie’s search for a school for Harvey. The show featured Anna and was incredibly moving.

For our spot on Gateway, Aston and I are now booked up with guests till May. Doing various radio shows and writing has made things easier, for sure. My feeling of being down has passed. I hate to use the words “luckier than most”, as they never define how a person feels inside. But I shook myself down, felt grateful for the positives in my life and got back on track.

Nevertheless, it’s important to stress that not everyone can do this. During this difficult  time, no matter what you have or who people think others are, many will be struggling, especially those who are on their own.

It’s always good to check on friends.

Love,

Steven

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Life in Lockdown – an article by a charity supporter Poppy Rushin

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I wonder what we would have been doing if the pandemic hadn’t hit us?

Leicester has been in lockdown since March 2020.

Nearly. A. Whole. Year.

I miss lots of things, and every day I ask when Covid will be gone. I’ve decided it will be over in September. That gives me something to focus on.

Hopefully that will be when we’ll be able to go out for a meal, go shopping and do lots more things.

The first thing I want to do is go to the theatre and watch a show. I love going to the theatre. The first time I went it was dark and I was so scared but the staff showed me round with a light and I wore my ear defenders so I wasn’t afraid of the noise.

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Until then, here are some of the things that are helping me to cope at the moment. I thought you might find them useful, too.

Keep to a routine. Even if it’s a different routine to what you’d normally do, do it every day and you’ll start to get used to it.

Carry on doing the lessons you can on zoom. I didn’t like it the first few times I used it, but now I’ve got used to it and I love seeing my friends.

Take advantage of as many new online lessons as you can. There are loads out there and a lot of them are free. I’m doing my lessons of dance, music and playing the piano on them and trying some new ones..

Learn something new! I joined a theatre class on zoom last week and I’m having a go at learning to play the drums.

The other week I had lessons on puppet making and they sent everything I needed through the post.

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Express your feelings. It’s okay to feel sad sometimes. Let other people know how you’re feeling.

Treat yourself. It was my birthday this week and I got some false nails and new clothes and I loved trying them on.

Try to learn to relax. I always have a bath at the end of the day, this always helps me to wind down if I’m feeling a bit stressed.

Take the opportunity to spend more time with family and find more time to talk and laugh with each other.

Go for lots of walks. We make sure we go for a walk every day, even if it is icy cold at the moment!
My Instagram is: @poppyjosjourney

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Life in Lockdown – an article by one of our Ambassadors Thomas Henley

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My name is Thomas Henley, I am a podcaster, YouTube creator and public speaker. I have been apart of AKO family for a while not and during that time I have been involved in a number of projects with Anna Kennedy.

Today I am here to talk about my experiences in lockdown; the struggles, the triumphs and overall impact it has had on autistic adults.

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The 1st Lockdown

Due to the nature of my mental health conditions, I tend to have periods of high severity for a couple of months during the year. At the start of the first lockdown, I was at a high point.

Although the large changes in my routine were incredibly disruptive, I managed to devise a plan to cope with these changes. I had the focus, positivity, and energy to adjust my life and deal with the anxiety that change naturally comes with. I was knee deep in work I was doing on my documentary ‘Aspergers In Society, so there was a lot to keep my brain active and many positive opportunities on the horizon.

Most autistic people I knew from my social media work, podcasts and interaction with my local community had mixed reviews on the lockdown. Some loved the lack of contact and space from others, whilst others were sad to see their social adventures halted. In the UK, I think we all are banding together to make the most of the lockdown, and that bonding – no matter how distant – seeped positivity into everyone’s isolated lives.

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As the first lockdown progressed, it became harder and harder to cope with. Many autistic I knew became very distant, negative about the future, and highly anxious.

Being autistic, we have to keep the level of interaction with have with others in order to maintain our social skills and mitigate social anxiety… lock down made it difficult for many of us to wade away loneliness.

The uncertainty around the rules, and a somewhat distrust in the government left many health-conscious individuals terrified of the outside world.

Depression often comes with a lot of helplessness, lack of functioning ability, and negativity about the future.

Many, many people on the spectrum struggle with this horrible disorder, so it’s easy to see why lockdown has been so destructive.

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Once the hype of my documentary died down, I was left without the coping mechanisms I had developed to manage my conditions. The gyms closed, my writing spot was barred, and I had almost no social relations in my local area for socially distanced interaction. It felt as if all the positive/constructive things were out of reach, and I was left to stew in the harsh reality of lockdown.

On my podcast, I interviewed a lovely autistic woman called Anna. She struggled immensely with OCD and germaphobia prior to lockdown, but on its implementation, her levels of functioning and general mental health dropped massively. The lack of support in place left her father the sole supporter during these times, and it’s painful to think about where she would be if she didn’t have that supportive network.

The problems autistic people have faced, and the consequences of the rules in place are, of course, universal issues we all have to work through. I guess for those who already struggled with social isolation, mental health issues and a high dependence on routines… the overall effects of the lockdown we’re amplified and harder to progress through.

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2nd Lockdown

With the inception of the new lockdown, the attitude towards it had shifted drastically. The first lockdown was fuelled with support and positivity, whereas the second brought an intense feeling of hopelessness. The tiers brought a lot of controversy of course, but it also brought a lot of hope for the future.

It felt like we were thrown back into a state akin to what we experienced in early 2020; a lot of people experienced a large disruption in their life plans, and finding a stable job now seems almost impossible for the time being. Most of my friends, family and acquaintances all felt very deflated and negative about the whole situation.

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Personally, I have just come out of long 3-month period of severe depression. Due to the state of the world, and its interaction with my mental state, I have found myself lacking the motivation to get back to my normal self.

The first lockdown threw my plans for my career out the window. I had a lot of options for starting my media career and got very far into interview processes; that was all wiped clean then, but I felt positive about 2021. Whilst in Tier 2, the gym was open, and I was starting to build my routine and functioning skills back up.

The new lockdown came down hard on me, and it has taken me the better part of a month to reclaim my stability. I had to increase my anti-depressant dose due to my state of mental health, and with that came a lot of irritability and mood swings… things that my routine and exercise regime would help with – if they were available.

In general, I experience a lot of dissatisfaction with life and a lot of dread about the future. In normal life, I have options to go to when things become too much, or I need to reignite that love for existence.

The variety and structure found in simply changing locations, helps me cope with depression and helps me transition during my day. It makes it harder to shift your mental state when the tedious and monotonous aspects of life are the only things you can are able to experience.

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Sure, I’ve been creative; I’ve developed a home-workout routine, started interacting with friends on video calls, been on LOTS of walks, and focused on developing my online career further. All of these alternatives make my life easier, but it never quite gets me out of my own head enough. It never quite shakes me out of the existential dread this lockdown brings, and isolated life has prevented me from reaching a better state of mental health.

There are numerous challenges autistics face in our society that really have not been addressed properly; mental health, loneliness, social isolation and bullying to name a few. In the new lockdown I expected to see some adjustments made for us, or at least some exceptions for those with severe mental health conditions.

Everyone is struggling and everybody is likely sick of the boredom already, but more needs to be done for vulnerable people. Charities and organisations have likely been working tirelessly on these matters, but they need the support and funding to make a real difference.

We need better awareness from supporting services, guidance during times of instability, and/or exceptions for people who can’t function due to these changes. Due to the nature of autism, interaction is hard. The high rates of mental health illness make autistic adults an extremely vulnerable group, and we can’t always expect them to seek out the services they need. More active effort needs to be taken by social services and governing bodies, or the state of instability will progress further beyond repair.

I hope my testimonial will help others understand the impact of lockdown on those with mental health issues, and on those who are autistic.

Visit my YouTube channel or podcast to learn more about how COVID-19 has affected autistic people and support my work through these tough times.

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YouTube Video: 
Depression During COVID 19 – Dealing With The Decline

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Spotify Podcast: 
Germaphobia During COVID-19 – Autistic Woman’s Struggle With OCD

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