A step in the right direction for autism thanks to Anna Kennedy

21 Oct

I recently contacted Anna Kennedy as I read about a new dance DVD she had developed for children with autism and aspergers syndrome

 Anna’s DVD, ‘Step in the right direction’ has been produced in association with the world-famous, ‘Pineapple performing Arts school’ in London and a selection of children from the Hillingdon Manor school who each have a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder.

 Anna was kind enough to send me a copy of the DVD to review with my Little man.

 Little man used to love to dance but as his grown older he does it less and less. I thought it would be great to try to encourage him to give it another go.

Little man is a child who requires a certain amount of Occupational therapy (OT) due to his difficulties with both his fine and gross motor skills, including varying areas off his co-ordination. 

 Once I had received the DVD I decided to watch it while little man was at school, just so I could get a taste for what it was all about before finally introducing it to the Little guy himself. 

 This DVD has been broken up into manageable pieces allowing you to skip between sections.

 Part 1

Introduction by Anna Kennedy

Anna Kennedy

 Anna Kennedy, founder of Hillingdon Manor school, kicks the off  the DVD with an introduction that sees here shop for pineapple dance wear for the children before heading off to the Pineapple performing arts school in London’s Covent  Garden.

 Part 2


 Once here she introduces the viewers to some of the dance instructors at Pineapple including, ‘Maggie Paterson’ (Senior teacher) ‘Jade Flannagan’ (Senior teacher specialising in Street & Break-dance) as well as the schools founder, ‘Debbie Moore’ Anna interviews Maggie & Jade about working with the children and what their expectations were before meeting them.

 Anna, then goes on to interview Debbie who tells us about her incredible journey in fulfilling her dreams when opening what is now the world-famous school of performing arts, while taking us on a trip down memory lane.

Debbie Moore

Lastly all the children introduce themselves alongside Anna who then goes on to get them all warmed up in the third chapter of this dance DVD

 Part 3


This is where we get down to the business and following a great warm up section with Anna and the children, Jade steps in to show us some poppin’ lockin’ & tuttin’ (some really “cool” dance moves). Jade starts by teaching us at home the routine, he does this in easy to follow bite size pieces repeating each section a number of times before finally putting it all together and joining the children where they go on to perform the routine, incorporating some really cool freestyle dance moves, which for me was the highlight to this DVD. 

 It was great to see the children dancing, the enjoyment was clearly shown on each of their faces in the form of a massive smile! 

They are all clearly delighted to be taking part in the making of the DVD and should be extremely proud of themselves and one another for the fabulous routines they participated in and awesome freestyling they displayed. 

 The tutorials are finished off with a cool down with Maggie and the children.

 Section 4

Special features: Britain’s got talent finalist-James Hobley

Anna with James and his mum Sheila

Here Anna meets James and his mother, Sheila Hobley who tells Anna about what life is like for James (how he overcomes many off the difficulties children with autism experience, while fulfilling his ambition and dreams to dance). We learn about the barriers James has overcome and  difficulties he faced while participating in the ‘Britain’s got talent tour’ as-well as his hopes and dreams for the further.

 James goes on to show Anna some of his moves, to which she has a little difficulty keeping up with🙂

We then get to see a delightful recording of James Hobley’s own routine.

 Lastly Andrew Stone (Star of sky 1 Pineapples dance studios with over 30 years of experience in dance, music and television) works with the children of Hillingdon Manor school on a small and final routine bringing the section to a close. 

 Section 5 &6

Useful Information & Additional Materials 

 In the last two sections 5 & 6 you can discover a little more about two of the sponsors behind the DVD, ‘MedicAlert’ (who Anna helped create the AK autism band) and ‘Childline’ (the UK charity backing Anna’s anti bullying campaign). 

We are then provided with the website address for “Anna Kennedy online” where we can read and download a number of fact sheets about the benefits of autism and dance.

These can be found at Anna Kennedy online.

Click HERE

Our Verdict

 Little man did have a go at the DVD and seemed to enjoy doing so. (He did however get a little upset when I tried to film him so we gave that a miss.) 

 His sister, ‘Alice’ who isn’t on the spectrum also enjoyed taking part, although she did spend half the time catching a glance of her self in the mirror. 

 In my opinion the routines are great! They have been put together in an easy to follow way and are not overly long, resulting in the children actively maintaining concentration throughout

 The music was fantastic, some really great tunes that made me want to shake my bootie too. 

 Anna engages the children in a great warmup routine that both myself and the Little man followed together.

 Jade Flannagan is the perfect choice for the main routine as his young and hip and the children really seem to relate to this guy.

Jade works with the kids really well and keeps them motivated with lots of positive praise and encouragement. One thing I did pick up on was there was no use of the word left and right within the choreography! Instead Jade used visual clues alongside instructions, like, placing a hand on his right arm along with the instruction on what to do, indicating that the children and viewers were to use the right arm. For me, I think this was a good idea, as the children did not become confused at the use of to many instructions at one time.

 The freestyle was the best part for me. I just loved seeing the children demonstrate their moves as their confidence was beaming throughout!

 I would highly recommend this DVD as an introduction into dance for children on the autism spectrum and even those without! I think it’s especially beneficial to those who seek lots of sensory stimulation. Children on the autism spectrum who discover an interest in dance, would benefit both physically and emotionally from such an activity. Such benefits could include, improved co-ordination skills and overall fitness and stamina, improved social interaction skills and the ability to follow more complex instructions, and importantly, development of their self-confidence which may be pretty low for those who have experienced incidents of bullying or isolation. Another excellent benefit that I found was, your child is more likely to sleep better if they follow the routines on the DVD in the evening. I know that Little man slept better on the evening we reviewed the DVD so this must be a great way to get rid off some of that excess energy our children on the spectrum always seem to have.

 The interviews were fantastic but are mainly aimed at the parent, though many children wanting to get into dance could really find themselves inspired by watching Anna’s interview with the fabulous talented James Hobley.

 Thank you Anna Kennedy for providing us with this great DVD.

We loved it!  

You can get a copy of this excellent DVD from Amazon priced at a reasonable £7.99.

Just Click HERE

One Response to “A step in the right direction for autism thanks to Anna Kennedy”


  1. Melatonin for the child with autism « A boy with Asperger's - November 8, 2011

    […] A step in the right direction for autism thanks to Anna Kennedy (aspergersinfo.wordpress.com) Advertisement Eco World Content From Across The Internet. Featured on EcoPressed How to feed 7 billion of us without ruining the planet Share this:FacebookRedditStumbleUponDiggTwitterLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. […]

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