Aspens provides support to children and adults with learning disabilities and associated needs and those on the autism spectrum. As well as supporting the individuals concerned we provide vitally needed help, advice and guidance to the families of those affected.

With the government's recent announcement of a review of children's social care to address poor outcomes for children in care as well as strengthening families to improve vulnerable children’s lives, we talk to Sharon, mum of Joe who has ASD, about how Aspens supported the whole family as he was going through his diagnosis, and how our team’s help has been “truly life changing”.

“It was two years ago when the Aspens team walked into my broken and chaotic home. At this time, my son Joe, who was 14 at the time, was harming himself and regularly attacking us all both physically and verbally. I wasn’t coping and couldn’t understand why he behaved the way he did but what was more upsetting is that Joe didn’t understand either. 

Lucy Russell and Tasha Brabon from Aspens’ Family Specialist Support team got straight to work. Lucy worked with Joe, and Tasha supported me.

Joe started having weekly sessions and I was also being educated, as I was completely at a loss. I felt I had lost parental control and my confidence to deal with the situations that arose. I felt embarrassed that I couldn’t connect with Joe and that we were divided as a family.

The sessions continued with ever increasing suggestions and ideas that really worked! We were introduced to strategies such as the minutes/point system which helped me to regain control and gave Joe a purpose and routine and reduced his meltdowns significantly.

Joe was slowly learning about himself and Lucy was peeling away his self-doubt, breaking down his outbursts and anxieties and making him so much more confident about controlling situations when they occurred.

Lucy opened windows and allowed me to peek inside Joe’s world and look at things from a very different perspective. Real communication began between Joe and I and compromise, routine and structure became the new us. Using the tools I had been given, a new relationship started to blossom for Joe and I.

Joe has continued to improve and with the help of both Tasha and Lucy he has grown into such a fine young man, who passed his GCSE exams during the most unsettling time of the Coronavirus. 

Lucy has helped Joe to understand his condition, to love himself and others, to take time to make the right choices, and to accept and be proud of who he is.

Tasha’s help over this difficult time has been outstanding! She has never let us down and has attended each and every meeting at school and with other professionals. She has always stood up for the injustices we were dealt and fought for my family with firm facts regarding the case that were often ignored or overlooked by Children’s Services and others. She has held me up, calmed my anxieties and never gave up when those who went before her did just that.

Our case was different and difficult and wasn’t the typical situation that social services deal with. Joe was finally diagnosed ASD but it was only due to the enormous efforts of Tasha and Lucy that there is a very happy ending to our story. 

Last September we were removed completely from the Child Protection list, with all professionals including the conference chair and social services praising the enormous efforts of Lucy and Tasha from Aspens.

Myself, Joe and the rest of my family owe an enormous debt of gratitude to both Tasha and Lucy - a debt that I can never repay. Thank you, Aspens, what you have done for my family has been truly life changing.”



Tasha Brabon, Aspens’ Family Support Engagement Officer, describes how the team supported Sharon, Joe and their family and how delighted they are with how far the family have come.

“When I was introduced to Sharon and her family I was able to act quickly in supporting them, Lucy had the strategies covered but I needed to support Sharon with all the other admin that goes along with having a child going through diagnosis.

We quickly established a good working relationship and the whole family were taken under my wing.

By working with the other professionals, I was able to ensure Sharon and her family’s voices were heard and acted upon, I was also able to explain things from Joe’s perspective as this is something he wasn’t always able to do.

Over the 2 and a half years I have worked with Sharon and her family I have seen the confidence grow in all of them. It is so lovely to hear of their games nights and how they enjoy cooking together as a family.

When I sat in the final meeting and the chair declared the family no longer needed the social care support it was an emotional moment, we had done it! I know how much this meant to the family but also us a team.

Sharon, Joe and his siblings had put so much work into understanding each other and making such progress.

Our support hasn’t finished and we still check in and support Sharon when she needs it, albeit not as often these days!”


Read more about the government's recently launched independent review of childrens' social care here.

If you would like further information or advice, contact our Family Specialist Support team on 01243 214120 or email [email protected].