My Sensational Families ‘Story’, by Naomi Tanner-Ashby

I will never forget the first time I met one of the founders, Lottie Parish, of the awesome charity ‘Sensational Families’. Unbeknown to me she had already walked in my shoes, in fact, it turned out it was I that was in fact walking in her shoes - albeit about a year and a half behind her - coincidentally it was literally history repeating itself! 

I met Lottie through a mutual friend, Janet, who suggested I chat to Lottie about my son, who back then was only about two years old, and I was massively struggling to understand my son’s behaviour, which appeared to be (on the face of it) a simple case of not being able to regulate his emotions, and came across as a very ‘sensitive’ child. 

Over civilised tea and biscuits one morning I explained to Lottie the latter, and that I had (proudly) invested in, and read, a book about sensitive children… I recall her laughing when I told her about the book, not at me, but with me… Lottie said that she had also read the exact same book (no way, I said, in surprise!), but it turned out that her own son wasn’t ‘just sensitive’ (like so many of the professionals, in my situation anyway, had suggested), but in fact Lottie said that there was a strong possibility her little boy was on the autistic spectrum, and they were considering having him assessed for a diagnosis, which was when the word autism was first ever considered by myself, in any formal way… it was the first time I had conviction behind my thoughts… it was that day that initiated my son’s ASD journey, and I went home and considered the following words for a long time: Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)… and that, my friends, was the start of a five year journey, a journey I had no idea would turn out like this… fast forward five years later and I can categorically say that I would not still be sane (questionable!!) enough to raise our two gorgeous children, Henry, now seven, and Edith, four without being part of Sensational Families. 

It has been far greater than simply being part of a support group/charity, Sensational Families is a lifeline; it is an opening into a world that is as confusing and turbulent as the conditions that our children have and face on a daily basis. 

For us as a family it has provided us with the knowledge, power, confidence, assertiveness to stand on ‘our own two feet’ and fight for our son’s (and now our daughter also) rights to a suitable and appropriate education including therapies. It provided me with the ability to stand up in a court of law and recite legislation in front of a barrister to win my son the right to said appropriate and suitable full time education. 

Sensational Families have supported us in every way possible, and I cannot thank them enough from the bottom of my heart. The team, the parents, the children, the professionals, and most importantly, the friends that I have had the pleasure of making along the way through this group (who I see on a regular basis), who all sit behind the ‘Sensational Families’ brand name will have always have a place in my heart, my admiration for them goes beyond that of a family; it is a tribe, for which I will be forever grateful for their presence in my life, because without them my son wouldn’t have such an amazing future ahead of him… 

Thank you, Sensational Families, I absolutely love the bones of you all!

SENsational Families is registered in England and Wales under charity number 1173051.
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