Mums start support group for parents of special needs children in Welwyn Hatfield

PUBLISHED: 18:00 16 April 2016

Susanna Mateu

Susanna Mateu


Three mums from Welwyn Hatfield have started a support group for parents whose children have special needs.

Angela GaughanAngela Gaughan

Susanna Mateu, Karen Spencer and Angela Gaughan started the support group to help parents whose children have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and related conditions.

The support group will be a WGC-based branch of SPACE (Supporting Parents of Autistic Children in East Herts), and is first meeting on Thursday, May 5 at the Waterside Children’s Centre, Rowans, WGC, from 9.30 to 11.30am.

Susanna Mateu, of Woolmer Green who has a seven-year-old son with ASD, said: “We have really different reasons why we wanted to get involved.

“In my case it’s because I felt a massive lack of support when I was going through this journey myself as a parent.

Karen SpencerKaren Spencer

“I wanted to be able to have something for all parents that I didn’t have myself.

“We really want to bring a bit of hope to the parents. We want to transmit a supportive message to show parents there is a light at the end of the tunnel.”

The group was started by Karen Spencer, of Oaklands, who has a seven-year-old son with autism. She said: “I attended a SPACE support group that was running in Hertford and found it was more informative than other ones I have attended because they had key speakers so if you didn’t want to talk you don’t have to.

“It is also a way of ensuring parents can start to work closely with professionals and teachers with confidence and knowledge. “I thought we needed something similar in Welwyn and Hatfield.

“Before and after diagnosis we did not have much support and it was a bit of a dark time and as we are moving onwards and upwards we thought we would like to give something back.”

Angela Gaughan, of Digswell, who also has a seven-year-old son with ASD, said: “I believe that it’s really important that those affected have a network of people to talk to, so that they can understand that they are not on their own.

“It can be difficult to actually find out information, where to go, what to do and this group will give you that opportunity through the meetings, key speakers etc.

“People do not fully understand the issues until they have first hand experience of going through this journey with a child. It’s about supporting people in that situation, helping each other and sharing both knowledge and experiences.

“It’s hard for people that do not have access to the internet or do not have the capability or opportunity to interact with others. They do not have the confidence or voice to know where to start.

The support group will meet on the Thursday of every month and will have a different, relevant speaker at each meeting.

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