I am a parent who has been there and is there now! I have two amazing and wonderful children who don’t do things the way you might expect. This brings its joys and more than a fair share of problems.
Not so long ago I was deeply worried for my children and their future. Deciding to explore a diagnosis, playing the waiting game, and finally having a diagnosis for some of the many issues we experienced was hugely stressful and at times I was barely hanging on by my fingernails. We were given a diagnosis, offered medication, given the title of a book to read that emphasised all of the problems and none of the advantages of the condition and left to get on with it.
Fast forward to today and I learned a huge amount along the way that I can share with you. I moved from feeling scared and overwhelmed to (mostly) joyous. Given that we are living in a house with teenagers, this is no mean feat!
I want to help you move through the harder phases quicker, so I wrote the book I wish I had found at the time and ‘A Different Joy’ was born.
We have a full range of interesting conditions in my family including autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia amongst other conditions which gives me a full and varied personal experience of the issues you might face. I am also the Programme Head of the Autism Education Trust (AET). In my professional life, I have learned from the best in the field of special needs. I work with many people on the autism spectrum, some of whom I am proud to call my friends, who agreed to share their perspectives on their lives with me and in turn, with you. In many of ways I have experienced a series of masterclasses in understanding and valuing difference. I meet a lot of parents, like you, whose children experience a wide range of problems, but all feel a deep and abiding love for their child and the heartfelt need to do the best they can for them. I share that passion and want to help satisfy that need by giving you the best information and tools at my disposal.
For the last 7 Years I have been a key part of the Autism Education Trust that has trained over 66,000 people to date and is the largest face to face autism training programme in Europe. The AET is funded by the Department for Education and develops training and resources for education-based staff in schools. Although, most of the work of the AET is with education-based staff, they do have some great resources for parents which you can get here.
I am a part of team lead by the ACER at the University of Birmingham to deliver a 3- year programme funded by the European Community that is looking at the international context in each country and adapting the training and approach pioneered by the Autism Education Trust in England for use by partners in Italy and Greece. My profile and details about the project and teams involved are available on the University of Birmingham Website.