On the 9th December I spoke at an event in the House of Commons where Anna Kennedy Online presented a report containing the findings of a survey regarding autism and diagnosis. The survey was one of the largest of its kind with around 2000 parents and individuals contributing and the results demonstrated that the current process for diagnosis is not fit for purpose. Anna Kennedy Online have launched a petition asking for clarity to the diagnostic process.
Click here for petition
Click here for report of findings from the survey
It was Anti-Bullying Week from the 18-22 November and to promote Anna Kennedy Online's Give Us A Break campaign I wrote a short article about bullying for the Anna Kennedy Online website.
Please click here to view the article
Alternatively view my blog post re Anti-Bullying Week
Anna Kennedy Online took their hit show Autism's Got Talent on the road to Bromley, Kent at Baston House School.
Here I gave a speech about some of my experiences growing up and this was quite emotional for me. Anna Kennedy has asked me to give this speech at the House of Commons in December.
As usual the show was epic with brilliant performances from all involved.
For a write up about this event please click here
It seemed impossible that I would be able to meet my target of fundraising enough money to attend the World Championships this year. However thanks largely to the kindness of some great people I have been able to do so. Please have a look at my sponsors page for information on the support I have received over recent years.
This year I managed to raise the funds through a range of channels. Firstly I managed to raise a significant amount via my fund page through donations from some very generous people - I have tried to thank people individually through email for their donations. After meeting Anna Kennedy on Twitter I was able to meet some great people who have done so much to support my cause. Austin Hughes who made it his own personal mission to secure the funds for me to go has been fantastic writing letters to MPs and making sure my fund page was shared. Vicky and Mick Cordwell, along with friends and other members of the local AKO group put on a fundraiser for me which raised just over £300. Anna herself who donated through the fund page and shared my fund page. Geoff Major of @hashtagINVOLVE, a charity fundraiser sponsored me with £250 and also vowed to help me with a plan to fundraise for future competitions.
My family have also been incredibly helpful with my older brother donating £100 and my dad aiming to give me some money which I will be able to use to pay off my next scheduled international early in 2014 . Tristan and Kay Dawson who I view as my family also generously sponsored me with £300 for the World Championships.
I have been incredibly lucky to have met such wonderful people this year and thank them from the bottom of my heart for their support and generosity. It means so much to me to be able to do what I love and now I am faced with the hard task of winning world title number 3!
On the 25th June I was invited to accompany Anna Kennedy to the Positive Image campaign celebrating Women in Sport at the House of Commons. This event and campaign was brought together by the inspiring Kate Hardcastle who met Anna Kennedy at the Tesco Mum of the Year awards 2013.
My experience at the House of Commons was great, I had never been here before and we were taken on a tour by MP Gerry Sutcliffe. I was able to meet some great people including Tina Boden and later in the evening we were joined by Victoria Pendleton, who was really impressed with my kickboxing medals.
For some time I have wanted to help raise awareness of Asperger's Syndrome and autism. I'd like to show through my sport and achievements that people with Asperger's Syndrome can be successful and can achieve something, no matter how big or small. It all came to a head on World Autism Awareness Day (2nd April) when I was browsing through Twitter to see Lennox Lewis tweeting about autism. I replied to one of his tweets and was surprised to not only have a reply but also a retweet.
Through Lennox's tweeting I also became aware of Anna Kennedy whom I got in touch with. After sending a few tweets back and forth Anna asked if I wouldn't mind sharing my story on her website which I immediately agreed to. These interactions led to my invitation to speak at Autism's Got Talent and then at the Autism Show, where Anna Kennedy asked me if I would like to become a patron of her charity Anna Kennedy Online. I of course was delighted and immediately agreed, to me Anna's charity fits so well with what I would like to do. I love the positive nature Anna has and that she and her team take action rather than just words. The events Anna pulls together which highlight positive stories of those on the spectrum is also something that I admire and believe in. As a patron I will help Anna to promote the work of her charity, endeavour to help other people struggling with the effects of Asperger's and autism if I can and of course continue to speak about my experiences.
For more info on my story please click here to go to AKO website
Click here for my blog post on becoming a patron for AKO
I was recently invited by Anna Kennedy to speak at Autism's Got Talent at the Mermaid Theatre in London. This took place on the 11th May. Autism's Got Talent is a show put on featuring a range of performers all with autistic spectrum conditions.
It was fantastic to be invited to be part of an event with so many talented and inspiring performers. My talk centred on my experiences growing up and how I had gone on to achieve within my sport and other areas of my life. It was the biggest audience I have ever spoken to and since I have been overwhelmed to have had so many messages from members of the audience.
Click here to see my blog post re Autism's Got Talent