History of Sen Talk
...She often felt judged by others and felt that she was constantly explaining her son’s behaviour. Social experiences became too exhausting and both her and her son became isolated. Although, some disability support did exist, it was never specific and often was not relevant to their needs. It was the emotional support and guidance that she was desperate for and opportunities for Noah to feel safe, nurtured and accepted.
Originally, she set up the organisation as a parent support network. She wanted to help parents to make sense of their child’s diagnosis and to support each other through navigating the complex send system. Sen Talk hosted monthly peer coffee mornings for parent, where they could come and share their thoughts, worries and provide emotional support for each other in a judgement free environment.
It was not long before Annaliese realised that there was also a massive gap in provision and opportunities for children with SEND and that children with these diagnoses were often marginalised from experiences, due to their additional needs. She obtained two small grants and set up an after-school club for children with ASC and ADHD allowing them to engage in physical movement and sensory activities in a space exclusively for them, and with the support of professional parents were able to access advice and support at the same time.
Now, four years on the organisation prides itself with running three sessions per week, specifically for neuro-diverse children, who have faced or are facing exclusion, isolation or need support with social, emotional mental health. The sessions include the very popular ‘Brick Club’ based on the principles of LEGO(R)-Based Therapy, supports children (aged 5-12) to develop positive relationships with peers. Also, on offer is a weekly After school Club (5-12) that encourages creative thinking and using creative skills to explore emotions and helping children overcome barriers in emotional literacy.
The third club is the Communicate Club which helps older children (9 years+) through bespoke mentorship, supporting young people to overcome barriers impacting their well-being, such as understanding safety and self-awareness. As well as this usual term-time offer, Sen Talk organises respite breaks for families who may not usually access opportunities due to financial circumstance or have accessibility issues and require support.
“In 2016, I had an ambitious idea to start a peer support group for parents and carers of children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), and could not have imagined how pivotal that image would be in shaping the service that exists today, meeting both the needs of the family and the child. Sen Talk is aimed specifically at children with less ‘visible’ or hidden disabilities such as autism spectrum conditions (ASC) and attention deficit disorders (ADD/ADHD) especially those attending mainstream education settings. Our cohort of children and young people are too often overlooked and misunderstood due to their potential academic capabilities, verbal capabilities, which often mask the true extent of their difficulties.”