This piece originally appeared in the Messenger Newspaper 27th October 2017.  

A MOTHER in Sale is holding her hand out to offer other parent carers support after her son was diagnosed with autism last year.

Sarah Windram, was head of customer care at a busy property investment company, but upon the diagnosis of her son, Charlie’s, developmental disability she had a major career change to help her son and other parent carers in the area.

She said: “At the time, I was brand new to the world of special education needs and I was baffled by some of the words I kept hearing in school: assessments, panels, Education Health Care Plans (EHCP), reviews, just to name a few – this all meant nothing to me. I was becoming stressed with juggling a work, we had little support and we were coming to terms with my son’s condition, his behaviours and how this affected our future – Our world had been rocked.

“I was looking after a demanding one-year-old as well as coordinating and attending what felt like a telephone directory of appointments for my son – I was struggling to think clearly and I felt like my brain had abandoned me. I was feeling exhausted and overwhelmed. All I wanted was to do right for my son.”

Sarah said she only found real help through online and Facebook community groups which is where she came across Independent Support and Wraparound Services, a social enterprise working to help individuals with special needs and their families reach their full potential.

She said: “It was so refreshing to meet with someone who understood the challenges I faced and who could explain the system to me in words I understood. Finally I felt empowered and more confident – I came across Wraparound by accident and I don’t know where I would be today without them.”

In June this year the Wraparound Services started recruiting and straight away Sarah applied.

“I was so passionate about using my own skills and experience to help other parent carers find the way and I guess this must have shone through at my interview as I was thrilled to be appointed as a Wraparound partner. I have just completed my independent support and legal training and am keen to start helping parent carers and young people make sense of special needs.

“My message to parent carers is this: While specialists and professionals know their area of expertise well, you know your child the best. Never give up – you are not alone.”