Buxton mum sets up support network for children with special educational needs

A Buxton mum has set up a support network for children with special educational needs after struggling to find help herself.

Wednesday, 15th June 2022, 8:45 am

Joanne Cullen’s eight-year-old son, Liam Green, is autistic and over the years she has struggled to find the support she needs to parent a child with special educational needs, (SEN).

The 44-year-old said: “It has been heartbreaking to see him not making friends and being judged and excluded by other children.

“He has never been on a sports team or joined a club and I got to the point last year where I felt so sorry for him I knew something needed to change.”

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Members of the newly set up football team for children with special educational needs

In October last year Joanne set up Carers Connecting SEN High Peak, a support group for both parents and children and in just over six months the group is helping more than 300 families.

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Joanne said: “To have so many people joining us on Facebook proves there really is no support for people out there for children with SEN.”

The group now organises regular meet-ups at soft play centres, run weekly gardening clubs and has recently set up a football team.

“We really are going strength to strength which is amazing.

“I’m really pleased with the new football team because SEN children don’t play to win, they play to have fun and for abled bodied children this does cause friction as they may pass to an opposition member rather than a team mate.

“After a while children like Liam get left out and not asked to play which is really sad.

“But we are about inclusivity and no judgement which is important especially for the parents too.

“It’s hard being a parent of a SEN child because when you are out and about and your child is shouting people do look and they do judge but going out as group we all know what each is going through and it feels more supportive.”

For Liam, who is in Year 2 at Peak Dale Primary, the new clubs provide him and other children with that safe space they need.

The group is headed up by Joanne but she is helped by a team of five others who organise everything from fundrasing to recruitment.

For support or the weekly timetable visit the Carers Connecting SEN High Peak website, or Facebook page.

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