“ My two grandchildren both access Sparkle Sheffield and they have been a lifeline for the whole family. My son and his wife both have learnt so much from them and get so much support. As a granddad I have been able to join events and trips with my grandchildren and without Sparkle Sheffield putting on events that are suitable for the children I would have missed out on this aspect of being a granddad”
“As a father I found accessing support and information for my children really difficult. At Sparkle events I always feel welcomed and there are other dad’s there to speak too, its not just for mum’s “
“Sparkle Sheffield made us feel very welcome from the first day. My children get to experience things they would not otherwise be able too such as animal handling, music sessions and parties”
“Sparkle really are an amazing charity, the events they do are brilliant, we went on the new year party at monkey business & it was so good for our kids, our little boy has autism & really struggles in noisy busy environments but this event was quiet, not too busy & the food included was lovely just right for kids 🙂 my other 2 children also really enjoyed it, I always love a SEN event because everyones in a similar situation & you dont get the dirty looks or rude comments, always enjoyable on sparkle events!! “
“Thank you so so much for all your help everyone at Sparkle we wouldn’t have got through this without your guidance and support”
My eldest was diagnosed at the age of two, and after that hundreds of emails, phone calls, internet searches and hitting a brick all, I finally got handed a small leaflet about an autism charity called Sparkle Sheffield – a charity who supported families and brought them together for this common reason where we didn’t feel alone and isolated.
I had been a parent beneficiary of this charity for just over a year when I decided to volunteer as a parent to help and support other families who were left alone and stranded after a diagnosis. We worked from our living rooms, soft play centres and sensory rooms to provide parents with meeting facilities and our special children a place to be themselves. Over the last two years I have had the privilege to see Sparkle Sheffield grow from a living room charity with just less than a handful of volunteers, to an amazing office space, with the support of an amazing group of the selfless volunteer management team, offering services and outreach to huge professional organisations right down to individuals.
Through this amazing charity I have learnt so much from professional talks, parents, their children and the wonderful Sparkle team. Sparkle Sheffield has taught and instilled within me that I am not alone, my children and I can and do have access to anything everyone has. Over the last two years they have supported me more then I have supported them. After my childs diagnosis I was left feeling lost, alone and with no identity but to be the best at protecting my children from the neurotypical world. Sparkle Sheffield have supported and guided me through this simply being there and listening and accepting. We have learnt so much from each other, an experience I will never forget.
Through this support and blessed opportunity, I am a more relaxed parent, the anxiety has reduced significantly and I am a more confident individual, maybe even more confident now than before I had children! Through Sparkle Sheffield I have discovered other wonderful organisations that do amazing things for autism families and all other services available to me if and wherever I might get stuck. My children are very happy and settled as well as great stability in our home family life. Now with both in full time school I feel I can now reclaim a part of my life I thought I had to leave behind to be an autism mum, but thank you to Sparkle Sheffield, I have now the confidence to be able to return to work and be me again, I have learnt that I can be an individual and be the best parent to my children.
Words cannot express what it means to be part of Sparkle Sheffield and how this charity has supported me. It is most definitely not goodbye because everyone needs Sparkle in there lives. I will miss our crazy wonderful team who are now my Sparkle family.
To whom it concerns, Sparkle Sheffield has been involved with my family for about 4 years now. In the beginning it was providing me information on autism as we’d only just had diagnosis and general support coping with her needs. As time went on they grew and we were able to join some activities provided by them for our children so they can engage in fun together and to make friends and play in a supported environment. My girl always relaxes more when she hears it is Sparkle we are going to. She would not be able to see a Father Christmas in his grotto if it wasn’t for the special one Sparkle set up in their offices.
In more recent times they have offered invaluable support in gaining an EHCP in order for my child’s needs to be met in an appropriate school. Sparkle keeps evolving to meet the needs of the parents and has been of huge benefit to us as parents and for my girl. I hope they can continue their good work for many years to come.Anon
Sparkle Sheffield have made an enormous difference to our lives.
When our son was diagnosed at age 5 we knew nothing about autism. We were handed a few leaflets and told we were on a waiting list for parent information sessions that were months away. It became apparent that information and support was few and far between. As the weeks went by we felt more and more isolated.
Then we came across Sparkle. The seminars and talks they had arranged with professionals and adults on the spectrum was a breath of fresh air and the information was invaluable. They supplied answers, information and dispelled the many myths surrounding Autism. Sparkle also arranged an Autism Fayre which brought together professional bodies and businesses together under one roof to offer their services. Again, invaluable. They provided us not only with an ear to listen but professional advice and support. Through Sparkle, we had access to a network of families in the same situation. We stopped feeling isolated.
Not only do Sparkle offered the above, they arranged events that cater for the children. Both of my children are autistic, my son, now 7 and my little girl, 4. Because of Sparkle they have been able to experience things that they would not have normally been able to access because of their disability. Sparkle have enabled my children to attend events such as the special Olympics, arrange a holiday club, access adventure playgrounds and play centres, try boxing and self-defence, bowling and spend the day with the emergency services helping them to know who to go to, who can help them and make them feel safe. As a family we cannot even think about accessing any of these things that other families take for granted as part of a normal life. We often feel isolated and it saddens us that our children cannot experience what other children can because their autism presents so many barriers in a world that is not autism friendly and where the environments are so challenging our children cannot even step through the door.
Sparkle rise to the challenge and work so hard to change this. Sparkle provide these with safety and security in mind. With staff who have 1st hand knowledge of Autism and provide so many opportunities for our children to have fun, have friends and be able to access places that otherwise would be inaccessible. They enable our children to experience things that help them grow in confidence and enjoy their childhood. One of the highlights of our year was for our children to go on a barge ride. To go on a canal barge with friends, provide the right safe environment, the right support and with no barriers was amazing for them and for us.
Sparkle also provide a unique support group for Dads which my husband has benefited from. It is difficult for dads as so many support groups are aimed at and attended by mums and female carers. My husband found it really helpful to talk to other Dads and to get support for him from sparkle as well.
When our son was struggling in education they were there for us every step of the way fighting for Sam’s right to an education. Sam was diagnosed with anxiety and depression. Sparkle supported us and got one to one professionals in where we could seek advice. Without Sparkle, my son would not have the correct education health care plan. They provided guidance with law, arranged meetings and most importantly, provided an advocate for Sam in these meetings to fight our corner.
My son suffers from severe anxiety and depressions because of his autism. Sparkle have helped to re build his self-esteem through holiday clubs and experiences they arrange. They enabled him to meet an autistic adult who Sam could relate to and see what can be possible. Sam came away from this meeting feeling much better about his autism, less distressed by it and for the first time in his life at aged 7, talked about his future, saying he wanted to fix cars when he was older. This was a massive turn around for us as Sam often portrays himself as useless, worthless and bad or evil in his words. Because of Sparkle, Sam is realising that autism isn’t bad, that he isn’t bad and that he has potential do whatever he wanted when he was older. Because of Sparkle, Sam has met children he now views as friends and who care about him and accept him for who he is.
Sparkle work tirelessly to better the education system for our children and to make our city much more autism aware and autism friendly. Our emergency services, transport services, shopping centres and shops have all benefitted from their guidance which in turn is creating a better environment for my children and others.
Sparkle are always there for us to talk to, for advice and for help. They genuinely care and have created a community for parents of autistic children, their families and are an inspiration to us. We feel we have a place where we belong, that we feel supported on this journey together through both the good and the bad. Sparkle empowers parents to know their children’s rights and to have the courage and confidence to fight for the right support and right education for their children. By putting all this in place, it gives our children a better future. The right support for an autistic child can literally change their lives and change their future for the better. It can help the fulfil their potential and become a happy adult who contributes to society.
Without sparkle Sheffield, our lives and the lives of many autistic children and their families would be so much more difficult, isolated and lacking a future. Autism continues to present many challenges for our family and will do for many years as our children grow and go through the different stages right up to being an adult. There will always be difficulties and challenges to face. There will always be days where we don’t know what to do where everything feels too hard, too impossible and we cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel. Having Sparkle will help us face these challenges, enable us to keep fighting and to help our children to do the same. Without Sparkle I really don’t know what our family would do. We are only one family but we have met so many others like us that Sparkle have touched. They reach out to anyone who needs them. Because of Sparkle we feel so much more positive about our future and our children’s future.
Auti-Talk presents the Lord Mayor of Sheffield 2016
Raising awareness is one of the most important things that we do. Thanks to BBC Look North, Sheffield TV Live and BBC’s The One Show , BBC Radio Sheffield, Hallam FM they have really helped us to make a real difference in doing just that. A HUGE thank you from all of us from Sparkle SheffieldWatch Now