Prior to becoming a parent I worked for many large corporate organisations and in preparation for becoming a parent I started my own business. However, since becoming a parent of identical twin boys diagnosed with autism at 3, I have studied children and their development to BA Hon's Level. I have gone on to study with CAMHS children with conduct disorder at post graduate level. I have been studying autism for around 24 years (prior to becoming a parent and after) and have learned from courses with Tony Attwood, Luke Beardon, and the National Autistic Society from many families I have worked with and for 22 years I have experienced it on a daily basis. I have participated in research studies and having worked with many professionals, children and their families, I appreciate there are many different aspects, beliefs and perspectives around autism/ASC. I spent 2014 studying a NHS Post Graduate Diploma in Improving Access to Psychological Therapies for Children and Young People and delivering therapy for children with conduct disorders.
I have over 15 years experience of working in the field of autism in voluntary roles including co-ordinating support groups, fundraising for local NAS and for around 6 years I advised hundreds of parents nationwide through the legal process of a SENDIST Tribunal and successfully supported them in accessing appropriate provision for their children at school. I have worked to educate the educators through conferences to help them understand the lived experience and also as a consultant in mainstream schools. I have worked with children in a SLD Special School and assessment centre For over 10 years I have worked for a North London Authority and I have been at the forefront of research and development for educators and parents and I am skilled at ascertaining the best methods to facilitate and enhance communication and to respond to challenging behaviour. All children are individuals and family cultures are unique but with the my skills and the years of experience and knowledge gained I can devise individualised programmes and strategies that I know will work towards achieving the chosen goal.
I also run my own consultancy and whilst in London founded of Play and Learn Skills Social Skills Groups which successfully ran for around 3 years and offered bespoke teaching of social skills and understanding for children with HF autism, learning opportunities for trainee teachers and SENDCO's and provided volunteering options for 3 young people with autism to learn skills and support other youngsters to develop theirs.
In September 2016 I moved to Devon as I believed this would be a better environment for my sons, and we were right. They completed courses at South Devon College and Exeter college and have had fantastic support from both colleges. Following a supported internship, they have just been awarded some Bank work at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital where I fully expect them to grow into their roles. They are supported with enabling from social care and love living in this environment and are learning to get around, although they are not overly fussed by being by the beach, unlike me! I realised as they got older and moved into young adulthood that it all changes and parents need to be prepared to negotiate services in a different way.
I have had experience with working within the 0-25 team in Devon County Council completing statutory assessment and co-ordinating education to the best I can achieve and recognised there is a different culture in the area and that there is a long way to go for children with autism to be understood and take their rightful place in mainstream environments. The inclusion laws were fought so children could be educated alongside their mainstream peers and this seems to have been turned on it's head and more children than ever in this area are being educated in special schools and it appears schools are part of the drive for this to happen.
My sons are 22 now and are quite independent in the local environment, and can travel independently - considering where they started from, unable to speak and having to be taught language, not knowing if it's hot or cold, where the pavement ended and the road began or who was a friend or stranger etc... we could not be happier with their outcome. They are lovely young men, polite and friendly and never a thought of 'melt-downs' since Year 1 of school. It has been a lot of work to get where we are and it's not over. I am still learning new skills, I have won two appeals against the ESA and anticipate that I will be doing the same with the PIP, but you never know. My motivation is to share my knowledge and experience and learning gained from working with different roles with families, and of course from my own experiences over the years, incorporating my studies into child development and autism and human development, to make like easier for parents and outcomes better for children. Parents has a big job to do and I can help to navigate this immense role with greater ease and to not let it be the nightmare that others talk of become your reality. Parenting and child development is about beliefs, transactions and actions and it is never, as far as I am concerned, the child's fault, it is all about communication and that is not as straight forward as it sounds but it can be easier. Please contact me if you think I can help, I will do my utmost to leave you with a plan and confidence that you can do it too.