A Better Start Southend was proud to support Autism Acceptance Week, celebrated nationwide from the 28th March to the 3rd April. We are determined to continue to support and advocate for families with children who are on the spectrum.

Our campaign, which used the hashtag #AutismAcceptanceWeek on social media, focused on highlighting resources and services available in and around Southend to support families in their journey with an autistic child.

Every autistic person has different needs, and while some may experience difficulty in social communication, others may need 24-hour care. While it is important to remember that every child’s development is different, and it is generally not a cause for concern if your child is reaching milestones a little later than the expected age, A Better Start Southend can help if you are concerned.

Family Support Workers for Social Communication Needs
Our Family Support Workers are SEN parents, and are available to guide you through the journey as you await a diagnosis. Support includes telephone guidance, home visits, accompanying you to appointments and can even offer tips on any aspect of parenting you are finding difficult. They have a wealth of personal experience in parenting children with social and communication needs in the local area. Their experience as parents, together with their professional training, enable them to help you in the best way possible. If you have any questions or would like any further information, please contact Helen Smith-Vicary on 07918 223834 or email helenvicary@southend.gov.uk.

Read first-hand about how our Family Support Workers helped Femi’s and his family while they awaited a diagnosis for autism: Femi’s Story

Let’s Talk speech and language support
If you are concerned about your child’s speech and language, whether they have been diagnosed with autism or not, our Let’s Talk team are here to support you. Their walk-in sessions provide a place for your child to play and interact with others in a relaxed environment, while offering you the chance to chat with a Speech and Language Therapist for information and advice. For more information on these sessions, please give the team a call on 01702 356056.

No matter where you live in Southend-on-Sea, there is someone available to walk the parenting journey with you. YourFamily is the friendly community in which families meet each other for support; have free access to help from experienced teams on having and raising a child; and a place where you can make the most of all that Southend has to offer. Read more about YourFamily and get in touch with the team here: https://abetterstartsouthend.co.uk/yourfamily

Southend SEND Independent Forum
The Southend SEND Independent Forum have produced Southend’s Guide to Your Neurodevelopmental Journey. This guide is filled with so much information, signposting, and support to help ease any stress and anxiety for you and your family as you raise an autistic child. It was written by Jo Richardson; SSIF Steering Group Member and SEND parent, in co-production with the Southend Clinical Commissioning Group, Southend-on-Sea City Council, EPUT, The Lighthouse Centre, The SEN Trust Southend, SENDIASS, IPSEA, and A Better Start Southend. The guide is available to download and view on SEND Independent Forum’s website. For any further information on available support and advice, we curated a list of services here.

If you would like any further support outside of these services, please do not hesitate to get in contact with us at A Better Start Southend on abetterstart@eyalliance.org.uk. We are here to support you in giving your little one the best start in life.