I met this little boy with autism… From that moment on, I knew that autism would be a big part of my life journey.
I’ve been working with this organization since the very beginning, from the very early days of the Eden Foundation.
However, my first encounter with autism was while I was working in an inclusive mainstream setting as an early years teacher in the late 1980s.
I met this little boy with autism. It amazed me how he could read and how he could write but couldn’t answer the simplest of questions. He was super-intelligent and it mesmerized me and there was no turning back from there. From that moment on, I knew that autism would be a big part of my life journey.
Initially, I started as a tutor, supporting children with autism spectrum disorder aged between two and 16-years-old.
I was responsible for the founding and coordination of STEP (Structured Training and Education Programme) for children affected by autism and have been managing specialized early intervention programmes since 1997.
Another important area of my work is my role as Autism Spectrum Disorder Advisor for the Foundation. My overall responsibilities include ensuring total quality management across all ASD programmes and services, ongoing development of specialised autism services and policies, and, maintaining our National Autistic Society (NAS) UK accreditation.
I worked for several years as a member of the Autism Awards Accreditation Panel and I’ve also participated in a number of reviews in the UK, evaluating specialised services and schools as a NAS Accreditation team member.
Throughout my career, I have worked in diverse settings including mainstream schools and specialized settings, all of which have provided me with an array of skills. Whilst working in mainstream settings, I have gained experience in class and school management. In the specialized settings where I currently work, I played a key role in the setting up of specialized services from scratch.
Although having solid leadership skills are crucial, I have learnt how vital it is to work as a team in a horizontal culture which results in enhanced team dynamics and cohesion. This is the culture at Inspire and has been the essential key for the overall success of the foundation. In fact, I can say that I am truly blessed to have the honour of working with my dream team of tutors and therapists and being part of the dynamic management team at Inspire.
I’m sure everyone working in this field would agree with me that it is essential to be informed and continually updated with regards to autism due to the enormous amount of research that is taking place which informs our work. I, myself, have completed numerous training courses, participated in EU projects and attended workshops, seminars and conferences both locally and abroad. I have also attained an MEd (Autism) with the University of Birmingham.
I like to share my ideas and I always aim for clear communication. As I am passionate about sharing my experiences and knowledge of autism, I enjoy giving presentations and delivering training.
My years of experience working with families who have a child on the autism spectrum have instilled in me a great sense of empathy. This has enabled me to understand the huge impact that a child with a disability has on the whole family.
So I guess you could say that my mission is to ensure that everyone understands that autism not only affects the individual, but also the wider family and all those who provide support.