Sen Talk is a non-for-profit organisation that was originally set up as a parent support network for parents and carers raising children with autism and attention deficit disorders within the London Borough of Wandsworth. The group was founded by Annaliese Boucher after her young son Noah was diagnosed with autism and ADHD at the age of four. Annaliese found it impossible to find support and found the strain of raising a child with complex needs affected both her and her son’s emotional well-being and mental health.
She also noticed that although her son’s difficulties were blatantly obvious to her, she was constantly battling trying to explain his struggles to others, including his school at the time, their family and her friends which often left her isolated.
However, the real difficulty lied in the type of diagnosis that Noah had been given. He was considered as High Functioning and because of his verbal capabilities he was often over-looked, and his behaviour meant he was just labelled as a ‘naughty’ child.
It wasn’t until Annaliese really started doing her research that she realised just how complicated autism and ADHD were as diagnoses and that his obvious needs were just not being met. She started to meet with other parents of children with similar diagnosis and became an unofficial send advocate, advising parents on anything and everything from sleep, occupational therapy techniques, resources and getting the right support for their child through the newly reformed education health care plan (EHCP). Soon the news spread across playgrounds, and she found herself constantly meeting and advising new parents. She thought that something had to be done, that these children with higher functioning labels were being ignored and often failed by the lack of knowledge and awareness; and so, she gave up her job as a learning support assistant and put everything into starting a support group.
Now Sen Talk is a Community Interest Organisation that has worked with over 80 families across both Wandsworth and Lambeth supporting parents and providing intervention supporting in Lego-based Therapy and Occupational Therapy to provide these children with fair access to opportunities in environments suitable for their needs. The organisation is steered by parent participation, volunteers and a board that is invested in bring change using an innovative approach.