When her boys were little, no-one seemed able to teach them. Patrick went into a mainstream school but they quickly decided he needed more help than they could provide. Angelo wasn’t ever accepted into any school. And when Anna tried to find a local school that could teach autistic children it seemed no such place existed. So she had to teach them herself at home. But she wasn’t satisfied with this and decided to open a school for autistic children. She knew nothing about teaching other than what she had learned by looking after her own boys, or about setting up a school. But rather than be put off by the daunting task of having to raise £627,000 to lease the building to house the school, and remortgaging her home, she simply thought “how hard can it be?” and got on with it. She soon had 19 children in the school and now has 180.
But as her sons grew older and became young adults she realised this school no longer provided for them. So, of course, being the woman that she is, she set up a vocational college for autistic adults. She now has 45 adults doing degrees or vocational courses at this college.
Alongside this she wanted to help other parents who faced the same difficulties she faced. The average time it takes in the UK to get a diagnosis of autism is 5 years. So she set up a charity, Anna Kennedy online, to help raise awareness.
That might be enough for some people. But not for Anna. After her sister got her a place on the People’s Strictly Come Dancing she regained her love of performing arts. And to add to all that she already does, she set up a show, ‘Autism’s Got Talent’ which she now takes on a roadshow to various theatres. Some of children and adults performing in this show are truly outstanding performers. We saw a video of some of them. One man who had shut himself away in his room for 3 years, took to the stage to sing. Another man doesn’t ever speak. But sings in front of the audiences, and does so beautifully.
Her closing statement being “either give up, give in, or give it some and then some!”
We are in awe Anna.
Angelique & Becky x
Check out Anna’s charity here
Find details of Autism’s got talent here
This week is #antibullyingweek. Many autistic children and adults experience bullying at some point in their lives. Many of the people Anna works with have suffered at the hands of bullies. The theme of this week is ‘Make a Noise about bullying’. Find more info here