New resource available for families of neurodiverse children in Harlow

Education / Mon 27th Dec 2021 at 10:14am

A new initiative has been launched in Essex to support families of neurodiverse children and those with Special Education Needs Disabilities (SEND). 

A new Neurodevelopment Family Resource Pack has been created to provide a comprehensive support guide for families with a neurodiverse child. It covers a wide range of differences, such as autism, ADHD, dyspraxia, OCD, Tourette’s Syndrome and literacy and numeracy difficulties.

The toolkit is a direct response to feedback from many families who say they ‘don’t know where to start’ to find information and help to support their child. The resource has been written with support from two charities, SEND the Right Message and Takiwatanga, along with the Parent Carer Forum, Essex Family Forum, together with partners from Essex County Council, and the NHS – together listening with parents in Essex, Southend and Thurrock who have lived experience and challenges themselves. 

The support pack ‘by parents for parents’ covers information on different neurodiverse conditions, the diagnosis process, education, health and wellbeing, growing up, how to apply for financial help, myth busting and more.

The parent team responsible for the pack have engaged widely with parents, carers, support groups and young people from right across Essex, Southend and Thurrock to deliver their lived experiences, hints, tips and best practices.  It has been designed to help families at all stages, but particularly at the start of their journey and will help them to be reassured and have the key information available to them in one place.

The Neurodevelopment Family Resource Pack is available in digital format via http://www.essexlocaloffer.org.uk/supporting-your-neurodiverse-child/. It will also be shared by Health, Education and Social Care partners with parents who are at the start of their referral journey. 

JB, parent of neurodiverse 4-year-old in West Essex, said: “It was like a breath of fresh air to read such an informative and accurate document from another parent’s perspective.  A lot of things about my daughter made sense within 5 minutes of reading – it really is great!”

Katrina Farrall, Vice Chair at Essex Family Forum, said: ‘This has been a great example of collaboration between all services for young people with special educational needs or disabilities.  Continuing Essex Family Forum’s commitment, it places the needs of children and families at the heart of every process.  This is demonstrated both within this information pack and in the way we hope that services and changes are delivered going forward.” 

Cllr Tony Ball, Cabinet Member for Educational Excellence, Lifelong Learning and Employability, at Essex County Council, said: “We have listened to feedback that families often don’t know where to start to look for help when they realise that their child may be neurodiverse.

It can be an incredibly overwhelming experience, but this resource will give families more control to support their child, with all the information they need in one place. We have already heard from lots of families that this resource is helping them to access the right services and increasing parent confidence.”

Sam Read, from charity Takiwatanga, said: “A parent told us that this pack ‘answered the questions that they didn’t know they had to ask’. It can feel very daunting at times, and we wanted to provide parents with a good basic knowledge of neurodiversity, and to share links to actually autistic and ADHD writers, to give them a real insiders’ perspective.”

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