Supporting neurodiverse families
We are an award winning Hertfordshire based charity supporting families of children and young people who are on the Autistic Spectrum (ASD), have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or other neurodiverse conditions.
Whether families think their child or young person may be autistic or have ADHD, are going through the diagnostic process, or have already received a diagnosis they are all welcome at SPACE.
A Brief History of SPACE
We have been running since 2007 and we became a registered charity in 2017. We are staffed by an incredibly hard-working and enthusiastic team of parents and carers and are passionate about supporting our Hertfordshire families. Everything we do is designed to help families navigate local services, build confidence, share knowledge and enjoy social opportunities and activities.
As a local charity our ability to support all of our amazing local families is dependent on the generosity of our supporters. Every donation – no matter how small – makes a real difference. You can find out more about donating or fundraising for us here.
SPACE started as a single monthly support group held in Cheshunt and run by an Autism Advisory Teacher and a parent/carer
More parent/carers came on board to expand this to other areas in East Herts
We launched the closed Facebook Group, establishing an online community of support for families with children and young people who are on the autistic spectrum or have ADHD across Hertfordshire
We expanded support groups and activities beyond East Hertfordshire to cover all of Hertfordshire
We became a registered charity
We began delivering workshops, courses and training to parent/carers and professionals
We became the only organisation in Hertfordshire to train the ADHD Foundation’s parent/carer skills building course, as well as being approved to deliver the Sleep Tight course developed by The Sleep Charity. We were also awarded Charity of the Year by the ADHD Foundation.
We became a Short Break Local Offer (SBLO) provider and were commissioned by Herts Country Council (HCC) to run workshops
We launched Lending SPACE, an equipment lending library funded by HCC, offering specialist sensory, practical and educational equipment and resources for families to borrow
How we help Families
Our key belief is that we build bridges between families, professionals and the local community to help families feel confident, empowered and less isolated. This in turn improves outcomes.
Building Confidence and Empowerment
- Support Groups
- Virtual Support
- Facebook Group
- Lending SPACE
- Inclusive activities
- Training for Professionals
- Teen Events
- Sibling Events
- Early and Primary Years Events
- Bespoke Social Groups
- Inclusive Activities
- Parent/Carer Events
- Family Events
- Building Communities
- Promoting Inclusion
- Facebook Group
SPACE and the Community
We build relationships with local statutory services, local and national charities and private businesses to help further support our families and the community around us. Here are some of our wonderful partners and supporters all of whom help make SPACE what it is today. You can find out more about working with SPACE here.
We couldn’t do what we do for our families without the dedication and time of all our wonderful volunteers. You can find out more about volunteering for SPACE here.
Our patrons are incredible ambassadors for SPACE. They help to raise our profile and increase awareness of the work we do to support families of children and young people across Hertfordshire who are on the autistic spectrum, with ADHD or other neurodiverse conditions.
Dean has toured the UK for over fourteen years sharing his experiences of being autistic. He has also delivered keynotes in Ireland, Denmark, Belgium and Germany as well as undertaking four seminar tours of Australia and New Zealand. In recent years he has also become an in demand inset trainer and delivers training to staff across the UK. To date Dean has delivered over 800 keynotes, lectures and training sessions. He is also an experienced journalist and in 2012, this part of Dean’s career culminated in him being appointed editor of the National Autistic Society’s ‘Autism in Practice’ newsletter which had subscribers in 90 countries.
Dean is Patron of SPACE and is also a patron for ONE to ONE Enfield, a charity providing meaningful activities for LD/autistic adults. He is honorary president of APCymru- an autistic led parent charity in Cardiff.
Emma is Director of Early Years Service at the ADHD Foundation.
As the Director of the Neurodiversity Early Years Service at the ADHD Foundation Emma has a real passion for early identification and intervention for neurodevelopmental conditions. Her role at the ADHD Foundation is to work alongside early years settings, parents and carers of children in the early years and young children presenting with traits of neurodiversity.
Karen Spencer, General Manager
Karen entered the SEND world via her son’s diagnosis of Autism in 2011, stumbled across SPACE a few years later and hasn’t looked back. Leaving her previous life of working in London and local Law Firms, Karen is now General Manger of the Charity overseeing the day to day running of the organisation as part of the Senior Leadership Team. Karen still works directly with families and professionals as she loves seeing first-hand the positive impact that SPACE has with their “whole family approach”.
Clare Brillus, Operations and Finance Manager
Clare entered the SEND world via her son’s diagnosis of Autism and ADHD in 2012, her daughter followed a few years later with an autism diagnosis. After running her own support group for SPACE she grew the Charity as part of the Senior Leadership team alongside Karen and Nicky to where it is today. Clare had a particularly difficult journey to diagnosis and has always wanted parent/carers to have a clear view of the services needed and the support available.
Nicky Chaperlin, Volunteer and Community Engagement Officer
Nicky really began her journey into the SEND world with the Autism and ADHD diagnosis of her son in 2007. She stumbled across SPACE in its very early days and immediately felt the importance of that sense of community and inclusion. Nicky brought her experience of working as a teacher and acting head in a therapeutic setting to SPACE. With fellow likeminded team members, fuelled with passion and a determination to make the SEND world a better one they shaped SPACE to the organisation you see today. Nicky is one of the Senior Leadership team and is hands on with all training, support, activities , events and of course tea making. Nicky is still very much walking the walk on her own journey with the recent Autism diagnosis for her daughter and her son entering the world of Post- 16.
Debbie Gilbert, Charity Administrator
Debbie’s experience of the SEND world began with the autism diagnosis of the eldest of her two sons when he joined his pre-school. Now they are both teenagers, Debbie brings her organisation and computer skills from her previous IT Support career to our office as SPACE’s Charity Administrator.
Debbie has a passion for hiking and the outdoors and loves volunteering as a Scout and Cub Leader with the local Scout Group.
Chris Russell, SEND Family Support Manager and DSR Lead
Chris brings with him almost 20 years of experience working in the world of Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), most recently as Hertfordshire County Council’s DSPL4 Area Manager and SEND Lead.
Chris’s career has been dedicated to working with disabled children and young people and he is passionate about implementing change and delivering support and services that makes a real and direct difference. He has previously run an autism provision in a mainstream school, taught braille, white cane skills and Makaton and accredited the UK’s second mainstream school with the National Autistic Society.
Chris also works as an independent SEND consultant, offering bespoke advice, guidance and training to young people, families, schools and settings.
Abby Caslake, SEND Family Support Worker
Abby is a SEND family support worker for SPACE, offering a family centred approach in a non-judgemental and empathetic way. Abby’s eldest son was diagnosed with autism in 2017, this is when she first accessed SPACE as a parent and had first-hand experience of how crucial this support is for the whole family. Her youngest son is on the pathway to diagnosis currently, so she understands the many trials and triumphs of parenting children with additional needs. Prior to working for SPACE Abby worked in a special school.
Sarah Jones, SEND Family Support Worker
Sarah has 14 years experience as a primary school teacher, Deputy Headteacher & Headteacher. She has worked with many children and families in supporting children to access education and wider support. This includes children with Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Visual Impairment, Downs Syndrome and those awaiting diagnosis. She spent much of her teaching career working in a mainstream school accredited by the National Autistic Society.
She has three children, two with additional needs who have diagnosis’s of ADHD and ASD. She firmly believes that families and children need the right support at the right time.
Hayley Clyne, SEND Family Support Worker
Before joining SPACE Hayley had worked for 6 years as an Autism/ADHD Family Support Worker.
She has two children (now young adults), one with additional and complex needs. Over the years she has had to learn many ways to manage and support her son’s differences and support him into early adulthood. Prior to becoming a family support worker, Hayley worked as a 1:1 inclusion practitioner and was part of a team that set up a base that supported children with additional needs.
She is trained in Therapeutic Life Coaching, Grief Recovery, Mediation, Mental Health First Aid, Protective Behaviours, Managing Challenging Behaviour, Hertfordshire Steps Tutor, Autism Education Trust Trainer and in many aspects of Autism and ADHD.
Liz Stanley, Training Lead
Liz is an autistic adult and an Independent SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities) Adviser and she has been working in the SEND arena for over 7 years first as an Independent Supporter and then for her own company reSEND. Prior to that she was an IT Trainer. She has personal experience with special needs as she has a son with Autism, Global Developmental Delay, Sensory Processing Disorder, Hypermobility, PICA, Polydipsia and Dyspraxia. He is non-verbal and uses an AAC and Makaton signing to communicate so Liz is very familiar with these forms of Communication. Liz has been working for SPACE since 2018 as The Lead Trainer delivering workshops and courses on a range of subjects.
Suzie Daniels, Marketing Communications and Events Manager
Suzie is mum to two primary aged girls, the eldest of whom is autistic. She discovered SPACE in 2017 whilst on the pathway to diagnosis and attended a number of training courses and workshops. In 2019 she ran her first (and probably only!) half marathon to raise funds for them. Previously Suzie has has leadership positions in both the private and not-for-profit sectors specialising in general management, marketing, communications and digital, most recently at Amnesty International UK. She took a career break to look after her children when they were younger and answered a call out from SPACE in early 2021 for volunteers, working for them in a voluntary capacity on a number of projects before becoming a part time member of staff.
Patty Quiroz, Marketing Coordinator and Charity Worker
Patty’s journey started with having a family member being diagnosed with ADHD. Growing up with that knowledge was where the learning began but only until her own son began to struggle at school and was showing signs of ADHD, ASD and SPD did she begin to investigate further. In 2015 (after reading everything she could) she decided to reach out for further family support, in the way of activities and meeting other parents. She went to one support group and decided she wanted to be part of THIS charity and offered to create flyers that she felt would promote SPACE in a way that matched the knowledge and support that was being offered already. Working with families and watching how those families/children ‘find their tribe’ is the most rewarding part of her role.
Giuseppina Weeks, Events and SBLO Coordinator
Giuseppina studied French and Spanish at university and worked in the travel industry and then into the recruitment advertising sector. She left there to pursue a career in local government, whilst also starting a family and having her daughter and son. After 13 years Giuseppina decided to leave local government where she learnt many invaluable skills that she has brought to the SPACE family. In her spare time, Giuseppina enjoys going for walks with her dog Alan and going on days out with her husband and children.
Stephanie Squires, Lending SPACE
As well as being a parent Stephanie has also been a foster carer for the last ten years welcoming over a dozen children into her home from babies to young adults in their early twenties. Professionally Stephanie has worked as a 1:1 teaching assistant in a primary school and has also worked within the senior school setting as a child support worker. She has also worked in various voluntary roles for the army cadets, girl guiding association, princes trust, mencap, as a school governor and a first aider for her local rugby club.
Katy Rowland, Lending SPACE
Katy has three children diagnosed with autism , she first entered the SEND world in 2005 with her eldest. Katy discovered SPACE in 2015 when she had first hand experiences of the support groups and and how helpful it was for the whole family. She soon become a volunteer and is now working at Lending SPACE.
Polly is a Senior Associate Solicitor at Tees Law and Head of Education Law with an emphasis on SEND.
She has extensive experience representing parents of children with special needs in the tribunal. Polly delivers training to schools, local authorities and parents relating to Special Educational Needs and the law in practice and is a governor at a special needs school in Herts.
When she does get some ‘down time’ it largely centres around spending as much family time as possible with her husband and their sons, the youngest of whom has a diagnosis of ASD.
Mark has worked in the Banking industry since 1985. The majority of his career was spent at a large UK high street bank in various locations around central London and then latterly in Hertfordshire. In 2013 he joined Handelsbanken UK PLC, helping set up their branch in Hertford, where he remains today. Mark is an Account Manager, looking after personal customers for their banking, mortgages and wealth management requirements. He is married to Jo and they have two sons. They are a family of season ticket holding Tottenham Hotspur supporters. I also have a passion for playing golf.
Dr Sharmishtha Sarkar (Sharmi)
Sharmi is a Consultant Community Paediatrican. She has worked in Paediatrics for more than 20 years and is based both at Lister Hospital, Stevenage and the QE2 Hospital in WGC. She specialises in children’s developmental problems such as Developmental Delay, AS, ADHD, Dyspraxia and genetic conditions such as Down syndrome. She also has a keen interest and specialises in neurological conditions that are chronic and affect the child’s development such as Epilepsy. Her main work involves not only working with children and their carers/parents but also working with school/nursery and other professionals from health, education and social care in an effort to produce the best outcome for the child and family.
Donna is a Chartered Clinical Psychologist and Cognitive Behaviour Therapist. She works in private practice having previously worked in a number of NHS and educational settings. She has carried out and published research on a variety of areas including social skills training with children and self injurious behaviour in people with severe learning difficulties. Donna is particularly interested in children’s development during middle-childhood and the problems associated with this period. In her private practice she predominantly employs cognitive Behaviour Therapy to help children and adults who are experiencing anxiety disorders, mood disorders, and/or behavioural problems.
Victoria is a Vice President in Human Resources at IHS Markit and Global Head of Talent, including employee engagement, performance and Graduate development. She has been an HR professional for 20+ years, predominantly within the Financial Services Industry, and has extensive experience across all areas of HR – including employment law, employment policies, employee relations, recruiting, learning and development, performance and engagement. Outside of work she enjoys spending time with her husband and 2 daughters.