Sparkle Sheffield operates to support Autistic children and young people and their families and those who are Autistic and whom may also have co-morbid conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, pathological demand avoidance, processing disorders, dyspraxia, dyslexia and dyscalculia, mental health challenges, chronic physical sicknesses such as cystic fibrosis, diabetes, and those with life limiting conditions such as cancers etc. Sparkle Sheffield volunteers in recognition of their work and reach were honoured to be selected and awarded the Queens Award for voluntary Service during HRH Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee on the 5th June 2022
Our service is vital in supporting Autistic children and young people. A very high proportion of the children and young people we support, experience high levels of stress and anxiety, depression and OCD too. This arises from living in a primarily a non- Autistic society which impacts upon them with over-sensory stimuli and can go into ‘ autism meltdowns’, unable to control emotions and self-regulate , we support with triggers and to help self-regulate and therefore, we assist in strategies and techniques around this and other aspects of Autism and raising public awareness of Autism too.
Those we serve, exhibit high levels of self-harming behaviours, as well as a sizeable number expressing desires to die by suicide, as well as a worrying number seeking to act on these desires too. We have Autistic children as young as six who have been diagnosed with depression and whom have sought to die by suicide, whom we support. Since COVID-19, self-harming behaviours and expressions and actions to die by suicide has greatly increased and there is not a day goes by when we are not supporting several children and young people at once suffering in this way.
Sparkle Sheffield delivers exclusive play and learn sessions, which is aimed at a range of children and young people.
Sparkle Tots for aged 0 to 5 years old. This program provides a safe and supportive environment for toddlers and their parents to socialise, play and learn together. The activities include soft play, farm visits, sensory play, and other fun and stimulating experiences that are tailored to the needs of very young autistic children.
For children aged 5 to 7 years old, Sparkle Sheffield offers exclusive family events that allow children and their parents to enjoy a range of activities together without judgement from others. These events include crazy golf, soft play, and other interactive experiences that are designed to promote social interaction and help empower families and to build positive relationships.
For older children, Sparkle Sheffield offers the ‘Sparkle On youth club’ which is aimed at young people aged 7 to 18 years old. This program provides a range of activities and opportunities for young people to socialise, build confidence, and develop new skills. The activities include sports, drama, music, arts, and other creative pursuits, all of which are designed to promote positive social interaction and personal growth.
For young people aged 18 to 25 years old, Sparkle Sheffield offers the Aut-Some program. This program provides volunteering and apprenticeship opportunities to help autistic young people to develop the skills and experience they need to succeed in the workplace. The program offers a range of tailored support and guidance to help young people to find the right opportunities and to succeed in their chosen career paths.
And ‘Twinkle’ is a sibling support group as these children and young people within Autistic families often have to take a back seat and their needs can go ignored.
A loan of specialist Autism resources that are prohibitive for families For who can not afford to buy sensory play equipment which are greatly needed.
Sparkle Sheffield also helps with advocating for children and young people. Often Autistic people, especially children are not afforded their rights and entitlements and in the geographical areas the Charity serve, the waiting list for a neuro-disability assessment is up to 3 years. This in turn leaves these children and young people facing and accruing multiple challenges and harms that we help with too. Some young people, whilst on a waiting list for support have even exceeded this waiting time up to 10 years and beyond and come to us for help in desperation. In addition, high levels of unofficial/unlawful exclusions, as well as fixed term and permanent ones take place too, from nursery age on through childhood and into young adulthood, against Autistic people, they are often rejected for appropriate schooling and services that meet their needs and require Sparkle Sheffield advocacy and the Charity goes to Courts as advocates of children and young people without charge as the vast majority of those Sparkle Sheffield serve are on low incomes and cannot afford this type of support or representation and hearings, Court, or official school hearings can be traumatising a process for children and young people to understand and go through and we help in this regard.
Overall, Sparkle Sheffield is a vital resource for families and autistic children and young people. Through its range of programs and initiatives, the organisation provides a safe and supportive environment for children and young people to learn, grow and thrive.