2 July 2013

Autism Show, House of Commons & Becoming a Patron for Anna Kennedy Online!

I have been up to so much recently that it has been difficult to keep up with blog posts, I thought I might as well combine all of these into one post - if I can manage to contain my excitement!  And it truly has been an exciting time for me, exciting and a complete whirlwind, so much so that I'm wondering how I am managing to keep up with everything and this crazy juggling act I feel I'm doing.  In truth I'm probably not keeping up too well hence the lack of blog posts BUT I am still learning...

The Autism Show - Excel Arena, London - 14th June 2013

There I was one day just minding my own business, still incredibly overwhelmed at the response from Autism's Got Talent when my mobile phone rang and who could it be other than Anna Kennedy!  I think I answered it, can't quite remember (I'm not the best at answering my mobile, depends whether I feel I can cope with a conversation) but the message was simple, "please can you come and do a talk at the Autism Show as part of Autism's Got Talent..." ended with the usual I need to know by yesterday!  Of course my answer was an emphatic yes, I always feel it is an honour to be asked to share my story.  

Next came the working out of the logistics...who can help me get to London?  I am terrible at working out where I have got to go - signs, timetables, directions, it is all confusion to me and you'd think I'd be able to pinpoint all the relevant information with my attention to detail but somehow it doesn't seem to quite work like that.  Normally Adam my husband has the unenviable task of dragging me through train stations and airports and to new, big, busy places however unfortunately on this occasion he was unable to take time off work due to the fact we were on holiday the following week!  Luckily I managed to find a friend to come along with me, Amy who was more than happy to come along given her profession as a speech and language therapist. she was quite looking forward to having a look around at the event.

Being the perfectionist crazy person that I am, I decided that instead of doing the same word for word talk I did for Autism's Got Talent that I would change it slightly.  I think that I had been doing a lot of work for my business that I had begun to realise how much of a challenge and achievement it was for me to be doing that as well as my more obvious achievements in kickboxing and I decided I wanted to balance that out a little bit.

I am still very new to speaking to larger audiences, I am used to big audiences of small people in schools or small groups of adults - so speaking to all these grown ups who also have some experience of autism is quite daunting.  I have always struggled with confidence and have never been the kind of person to speak up in groups and previously I would have done anything to avoid this kind of activity which my friend Amy reflected on having known me from my school years.  What has changed since then in me is a defiant belief that I can do anything I want to do and that I have a right to be heard and understood for who I am.

I really enjoyed doing the talk and after I had finished Anna Kennedy made the announcement that she would like me to become a patron for her charity.  It was an amazing feeling and honour to be asked to fill a role that I personally thinks carries so much responsibility.  Growing up as I have done and often feeling 'bottom of the pile' to others it was such a great feeling to know that Anna thinks that I can be a good role model to other people.  I really hope that I am able to live up to that and want to do as much as I can to help others and bring awareness to the challenges but also positive stories about Asperger's and autism.

House of Commons - Positive Image Celebrating Women in Sport

So there I was a week after the Autism Show on holiday and again Anna Kennedy calls.  'Jo, do you want to come to the House of Commons on Tuesday?'  Completely taken by surprise I thought why not.  Anna had been invited to an event by one her Tesco Mum of the Year friends Kate Hardcastle, it was an event as part of Kate's Positive Image Inspiring Confidence campaign with this event in particular celebrating women in sport.  Anna thought as I was a woman and heavily involved in sport that this would be a great opportunity for me.  I, of course, agreed!

So on Tuesday 25th June, my husband and I travelled down to London once again to the House of Commons.  Here we went on a tour and met Victoria Pendleton.  Anna said some really nice things about how great I was to Victoria.  My experience at the House of Commons was brilliant - I met some fantastic, inspiring women including Tina Boden who has since been in contact with me trying to help me to raise the funds I need to be able to compete in this year's World Championships.  Anna was great to me again in bringing my challenges in getting the funding to be able to compete to the attention of various people.

If anyone is able to help me out, however big or small, with getting to World Championships please go to this address http://www.gofundme.com/2kvedw - I really appreciate any help or support given.

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