With the main AKO team only being small, and the amount of work and demands placed on us now growing each month, the time has come to now let some of our faithful followers step in to help us more.
For a long time now people have supported us in spreading awareness and helping to raise the much needed funds that keep the charity, and the work it does for families, going. We have reached a point where we would like to start to recognise those people and give them the chance to do more for the AKO cause by becoming a ‘Champion’
We would like ‘Champions’ in different areas around the Country. The idea is that these wonderful people will be able to volunteer at a more local level to help us spread awareness and the work that we do. With our commitments it is very hard for us to arrange talks and training sessions where everyone might want one. Through a local Champion it will be easier to arrange and facilitate those things so we can access more people.
Our Champions wont just be doing a lot of good for us but for AUTISM and families within the community as a whole. Everything our Champions arrange and all the good that they do we will make sure is celebrated and shared with everyone.
Already we have two such amazing people who are out there organizing events and raising money within their areas. Mala Thapar and Vicky Cordwell are the shining example of parents within autism who want to make a difference not only for their own children but EVERYONE on the Autistic Spectrum.
Here is a short piece about both of those Champions who are out there right now! Mala Thapar, who is selling our raffle tickets for ‘Autism Dance Day’ quicker than we can print them!! Well done MALA! and Vicky Cordwell who has been trying to train an entire County :O)
Hi I’m Vicky. As a parent, having a child diagnosed with anything changes your life. I knew there was something different about my son when he was 2 ½ years old and he could have a full conversation with an adult and read every sign in the supermarket all the little old ladies thought it was wonderful and how good was I as a parent to have taught my child to read. Um, no, I have no clue how he started to read actually, it was all my sons work. He would do jigsaw puzzles upside down, so only using the shape and not the picture. I loved how he used his car mat to create a “traffic jam” on the road with his many cars he loved lining up. How clever is my little boy??!! He was way ahead in his preschool setting and his reception year at school, but socially, just didn’t get it. He would bite other children, rough play and look at you with a look of “ooh what happens if I do that”. We were questioned on our parenting. “Do you eat together at the table?” and “Why do you let him watch violent cartoons?”
Every time you visit your health visitor, you get a pat on your arm and told “you are doing a wonderful job”. But something just isn’t adding up and in the end you doubt your parenting skills. Sleep?? Haha, sleep is for the week. Me or my husband would have to lay with him for hours to get him to sleep and would usually end up asleep ourselves as it was so late. This small person determined to fall asleep laying on one of us or not at all.
Starting reception he was spending his time hiding under the table or hurting people and being excluded from lunches because he just couldn’t cope with the noise and the queues. When school were calling me on the phone at 9.30 whilst I was on my way to work asking me to pick him up because they just couldn’t keep him there as they just didn’t understand how to deal with him, school started getting outside professionals involved. After 5 months of community paediatrician, educational psychologist and autism specialist team involved, we finally had our answer. My son had Aspergers syndrome.
Ok, so great we have this diagnosis, somebody will tell me what to do, understand his diagnosis and point me in the right direction to get help. How wrong could I be? What I did learn is that I now have a major fight on my hands. I tried to read everything I could about Aspergers and it just didn’t make sense. Communication problems? my son speaks beautifully and can hold a grown up conversation, there aren’t any problems there. Actually what my son can’t do is communicate his feelings. He doesn’t understand them.
My son had to leave his school after 6 months and attend a specialist autistic unit some 25 mile round trip. They had all the right tools to deal with autistic children.
We struggled on as a family, coming to terms with the diagnosis and having a child in a specialist unit. We did our best to learn as what we could. However, it seemed every time we got it, things changed and we had to relearn all over again.
I looked into courses that I felt would be beneficial to attend, and found they were very expensive or I didn’t understand them.
I started reading a book about a mum who had two autistic children and could not find a placement for her children. This ladies fight for her children inspired me in my plight for my son and to try and make his life better, be stronger and to make people better aware of autism. This helps greatly when you are in a supermarket and your child is calling you a few choice names and kicking you and punching you in the face!
This brings me to joining Annakennedyonline on Facebook, the lady who wrote “not stupid” and who opened her school and has since opened a string of other places for children with autism. I had been asking for advice and then started talking to Austin Hughes within the charity. Just meeting with him several times and listening to what he had to say just seemed to click and make sense. This person knew their autism. So together with Austin and Annakennedyonline I started organising some training days for parents and families from Northamptonshire to help understand their Childs autism and give them the underpinning knowledge they can build upon at a level that makes sense. Our first day was held at the Waendel Leisure centre in Wellingborough, where my husband works, on the 17th July 2012, giving a basic introduction on autism. We want to make these sessions as accessible as possible. Our aims is to build on these days and find out what parents want and deliver more days each year.
I am in the process of trying to organise some awareness days in a couple of schools in the county and am so proud to be a part of this great (small lol) team of people. Even my son is getting involved and raising much needed funds by organising “25k for AnnaK” charity bikeride- no mean feat!!! And my husband Mick will be swimming a mile open-water in Salford this year.
My role is helping to fundraise, raise awareness and support people, because I truly believe in all that Annakennedyonline stands for. This is about people.
Mala Thapar age 45 was an e-Marketing Manager until April 2013 and gave up her career for her son. Previously she has worked for international blue chip organisations and has been involved predominately in managing websites and global campaigns.
Mother of two children age 11 and 7, Mala’s eldest son has Autism and ADHD and he was diagnosed as Autism when he was age 2 and then ADHD was diagnosed when he was 10 years old.
In 2012 Mala worked closely with her son’s school in Croydon with Autism Ambassador Anna Kennedy OBE to raise awareness and to promote anti-bullying within the community. Mala has since involved herself within the Community in supporting parents and carers and encouraging networking and also assisting with local events to generate funding into the Charity.
Mala has promoted plug in talks in Schools and Colleges to continue to raise Autism awareness and feels so privileged to be a Charity Champion for Anna Kennedy Online and will endeavour in assisting Anna Kennedy Online to help raise Autism Awareness with such a strong team and Anna Kennedy OBE who is a phenomenal brand and dynamic person behind this massive evolution of Autism.