When it became apparent that my son was not developing language, was frightened and anxious in new surroundings his mum and I were very concerned. We were emotionally wrecked and didn’t know where to turn. SNAP Cymru helped us from the beginning. They listened and gave advice each step of the way from referral to diagnosis. Most of all they gave us confidence by preparing us for meetings with all the professionals involved. We knew what to ask and when the reports arrived they helped us understand.

Jaco was diagnosed with PDD, Pervasive Developmental Disorder, a form of autism. His language development is affected. We worried about his education and we were told by professionals it would be best to educate him in an English medium school because there was a shortage of Welsh speaking therapists. Jaco’s mum and wider family are first language Welsh speakers and SNAP Cymru told us to take further advice and visit both Welsh and English provision and talk to school staff as generally bilingual children may achieve the same educational levels in either language but all children tend to do better in the language of the home. We chose to educate Jaco through the medium of Welsh and he has developed bilingually. This was the right decision for Jaco, he received good services from health therapists and the school has been fantastic.

SNAP Cymru helped get us through those early years, always there for preparation for school reviews and loads of information about other services and parent groups.

I am really worried about further cuts for SNAP they have lost a great deal of funding over the past three years and now Pembrokeshire Local Authority has pulled the plug on funding this could start a domino effect on this vital service which has developed experienced staff and volunteers for over twenty five years.

I know that my son and other children with PDD will require more help as they get older. Dealing with the complexities of comprehensive school systems, social interactions and general transition can overwhelm them. This is true for many children with and without diagnosed disabilities and those with other additional learning needs. I know that even though I am articulate and confident I will still need SNAP Cymru to support us through my son’s transition from primary to secondary next year and later as he becomes a young adult.

There is little access to legal aid for children or families and it is really important that families and young people have access to free independent services. We must all make sure that vulnerable children and families do not lose out more in these political fiscally challenging times.   SNAP Cymru is there to advise and empower and it is empowering to know that SNAP will stay with our family to negotiate and mediate and advise and support and should the situation ever need to be adjudicated through SENTW, SNAP Cymru will still be there supporting right through that most challenging and emotionally draining process to ensure that the needs of the child remain front and centre.

The most important thing for children with additional needs and their families is to get the little problems sorted before they turn into larger ones.  Getting truly independent advice from SNAP Cymru has helped my family both challenge and trust the school and local authority as I have all the information and know that it is both accurate and impartial.  Having this information and support to turn to has enabled us to make our own informed decisions for Jaco’s best interests.  This advice and support should be available for all families at all times whatever their current need.   My experience is that SNAP Cymru will not make a mountain out of things. They deal with a wide range of issues offering simple accurate easy to understand information through to complex case management without families having to worry about the cost of legal representation.  This service should remain free for all children and all families across ALL Wales. I urge all parents to get behind SNAP Cymru and ensure its future in Wales.

Richard Mylan