Thank you to the wonderful lady who nominated me for this award.
I was diagnosed with Autism in May 2001 i also have an identical twin who is non verbal.
About me, I’ve been campaigning/advocating now for 17 years locally and nationally.
I’ve set up and founded two amazing charities, the first being the North Staffordshire Asperger Autism Association (NSAAA) in 2001, and later the Staffordshire Adults Autistic Society (SAAS) in 2007. I’m the founder and chairperson of this amazing charity, the first service user-led Autism charity in the UK to get the Queens award.
Having a social media following of 200,000 people, I’ve raised awareness on many Autism subjects, from mental health, to education and diagnoses. I’m on call 24/7 to help to the best of my ability to advise, signpost, or just to talk to someone who requires that vital support. Why do I still do this? Because 17 years ago i wanted help, but couldn’t get it, hence why I set up two award winning charities, which have benefited and helped thousands of people in Staffordshire.
I’ve also supported the National Autistic Society. For many years I served a full term of office as a National Director Trustee for the charity, and a regional Councillor for the West Midlands, a nine-year service. I was also part of the a new service user board with autism to elect the current Chairperson for the National Autistic Society.
I’ve spoken nationally on many TV stations on Autism issues, such as Sky News, BBC Breakfast, ITV and Channel 5, and on local TV and Local radio, as well as appearing in local and national newspapers, for 17 years now, educating and raising awareness of Autism.
I’ve supported and advocated for people to get education, or have been excluded from school, to those who have been suicidal, to helping those who are alone and don’t have many friends, to those who have faced extradition to other countries, to children and adults who have been sent hundreds of miles away in ATU units, just listening and helping parents what to do next.
Over the years I’ve done some amazing projects for Autism, charity songs, to conferences, to variety shows, workshops, cyberbullying projects, charity balls, Autism awareness raising events, to putting on huge Disability Award events to benefit so many people with profound and complex needs. Most recently I made a film which will be released publically in May 2018, based on my autobiography, ‘Twin Brothers Worlds Apart’, written about 6 years ago. We had an amazing cast for the film that is based on me and my twin growing up in the early 80’s, facing the challenges and misconceptions of Autism. The film has now won many awards nationally and internationally in Los Angles, New York, and Europe and is still around the film festivals.
Another project I started last last year is my own TV chat show which features on SKY TV once a month covering a range of disability issues, where people come on and talk about their conditions, raising awareness and educating people. Its a great show because it’s helping so many people.
Some other highlights over the years for me have been meeting several Prime Ministers, meeting Her Majesty the Queen, carrying the Olympic Torch, and being awarded the Citizen of the year for Stoke on Trent 2006. Most recently I was awarded the British Citizen BCAv award nationally at the House of Lords in January 2017.
Just because I can talk and articulate my condition is very challenging every day, from sensory issues, to anxiety, and I have a life changing condition know Schuman’s Disease which will progressively get worse as time goes on. I have other complex conditions and disabilities, of which a lot of people don’t know about. I have lots of obstacles, challenges that i face everyday of my life, its not been easy by far….
I just want to make life easier and bearable for people on the spectrum, for themselves, family and friends, thats why I do what I do and have been doing since i was diagnosed with Autism 17 years ago.
As a person living with autism at the age of 43 I admit I don’t know everything. I’m still learning. If it wasn’t for my Autism diagnoses 17 years ago i wouldn’t be writing this now, and would have taken another path.
I’m so looking forward to being part of the multi million-pound Autism centre, based at Keele Science Park, for the Caudwell Children, as an Advisory Board member in spring 2018. This will help so many children in the United Kingdom with Autism and other complex conditions.
Thank you for your time reading this.
Kevin Healey BCAv