Who are Sparkle Sheffield?
Sparkle Sheffield is a registered charity which looks to benefit children and young people and their families. This is done by providing parental support, education about this complex condition and coping strategies to deal with the challenging behaviour that autism often presents. Helping the parent/carers to understand and help their children have a better quality of life and increase the child’s opportunities by targeting their main care givers understanding of the complex condition.
History Of Sparkle Sheffield
Sparkle Sheffield started three years ago by Liesje Dusauzay as a small parent-led support group, helping to improve the lives of autistic children in Sheffield by supporting their parent/carers. In its original form the parent/carer groups were based on parent/carers bonding and making friendships to help share problems and seek advice from each other. This transformed nearly two years ago when a grant was provided. This grant allowed the group to expand into a larger parent/carers support group, which also made available subsidised children’s events and an office space to run parental one-to-one advice sessions. During the last two years the organisation has continued to develop with the drive of dedicated professional parents pushing the expansion. An award from the lottery’s ‘Awards for All’ was first given to provide a professional autism fayre with autism specialist guest speakers talking on a variety of specialist subjects. This in turn allowed for the education based parent groups to transform into the regular professional speaker-led parent groups we run today. The expansion of the charity has been driven by the sheer demand for such services within Sheffield, and the passion for Autism Acceptance by the Sparkle Sheffield Volunteers.
What Difference Can Support Make?
When you first realise that your child will not develop in the way you had imagined it’s very difficult. A common psychological issue is the grieving for the child you thought you had and accepting the child you have. Seeing the gap between your child and their same age peers is heartbreaking. Plus, when your friends and families younger children start to overtake your own child with their development it can cause significant stress and anxiety. It’s also common for parent/carers to disagree over their child’s development and the strategies that should be used, leading to cracks within the family unit. It is well documented in various literature about the connection between stress and Special Needs parenting. Our whole society is geared up to exclude people with Neuro Differences. The way we work, live, relax and educate, is all geared toward Neuro-typical people. Although the environments do not intentionally exclude, they do essentially have the same affect, due to a lack of understanding and misconceptions.
Meeting other parent/carers in the same situation creates a community of parent/carers who can discuss, debate and learn from and with each other. Many of the traditional parenting strategies used for Neuro-typical children will not work for an autistic child. Such statements as ‘he’ll eat when he’s hungry’ and ‘she’ll drink when she’s thirsty’ are meaningless. Professional talks on these important subjects can save a family heartache and most importantly save the child from suffering. Providing the whole family with support; education and behaviourial strategies for parent/carers; activities designed to accommodate the disabilities of the autistic child; and activities for siblings so that they are able to offload any negative feelings or frustrations associated with being a brother/sister to an autistic child.
The Sparkle Sheffield Team
Our Patron Adrian Lester OBE
Adrian Lester OBE was born in Birmingham, England as Adrian Anthony Lester. He is a multi-award winning actor and director, known for seven seasons of the brilliant hit TV show Hustle (2004), the amazing films The Day After Tomorrow (2004) and Primary Colors (1998), as well as all his extensive classical work in the theatre playing characters such as Othello, Henry V, Rosalind and Hamlet to name but a few.
Adrian is proud to support Sparkle Sheffield and the incredible work that they do with autistic children and their families.