SOLIHULL parents have thanked organisations who provide assistance and information for children with special needs.
Parents have come forward to pay tribute to organisations in the voluntary sector and council services who have offered support and advice in their battle to understand their children’s complex conditions.
The Observer has spoken for some months with parents concerned about ‘a severe lack of provision, understanding and support’ for children with Special Education Needs and Disabilities (SEND).
There is an overwhelming number of parents who are seeking help through support groups and many others who do not know about the services on offer.
Some have experienced difficulties getting their child a diagnosis, specialist support or Educational Health Care (EHC) plans.
Many families have told us about the vital support available to children from Solihull’s SENDIAS – a special needs information, advice and support service.
Hazel Clarke, Solihull SENDIAS manager said: “For families with a child who has SEND including autism, getting the help they need can be a confusing and emotional experience especially when their child is newly diagnosed.
“The SENDIAS service is a free confidential service for children and young people with SEND, and their parents and carers.
“The support we offer includes listening to questions and concerns, providing clear and impartial advice and support through the education, health and care (EHC) assessment process.
“We also provide training on SEND and signpost families to other services including support groups.
“Our aim is to empower families to work in partnership with schools and the local authority to ensure that needs are met.
“We often work with children and their parents together, but also offer a direct and separate private service to young people.”
Zoe Wickham, a member of SEN Parent Carer Support Group, praised some of the services that continue to help children in the borough.
She said: “Family Equip provide a range of services and their aim is to promote good mental health in children.
“Their therapeutic clubs for children worked wonders in helping my daughters emotionally and mentally.
“They began to not only understand themselves but accept themselves too and because of these clubs their self confidence returned.
“The emotional and practical support they offer families, including monthly parent meetings, is invaluable.
“I can not thank them enough for what they have done for my children and myself.”
Ms Wickham also praised the work of KIDS charity who offer an extensive array of services.
She said: “For me personally, they have taken on the role of supporting a parental application for an EHC plan.
“For me this was the biggest support that could have been offered at that particular time.
“Instead of spending days researching and hours completing the necessary paperwork, months chasing information and countless emails and phone calls, KIDS did it all.
“To have professionals out there able to do this work and give that time back to parents, so they can be with their families.”
Ms Wickham also gave recognition to Solihull Action Through Advocacy who provide advocacy support for those with learning difficulties.
She said: “They listen to the children, they give those children a voice and they ensure those children’s voices are heard by professionals (and parents).
“It sounds like such a simple thing but the impact for my children has been truly amazing.”
Some parents have to end their careers to care for and to understand what their children are entitled to under law and how to manage the problems caused by these ‘invisible disabilities’.
More than 1000 parents in total are members of additional needs support groups in Solihull such as Safe Space support group and Solihull Parent Carer Forum.
For more information on services available, call Action Through Advocacy on 0121 706 4696, call Solihull SENDIAS on 0121 5165173 or visit www.family-action.org.uk/solihullsendias and contact Family Equip on 0121 711 8220.
Support group details can be found on Facebook pages: Safe Space Solihull and Solihull Parent Carer Forum.