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New charity for children with special needs launching in Peckham

A mother of a non-verbal autistic child has launched a new local charity aimed at supporting parents of children with special needs.  

Stephanie Maty, who has lived in Nunhead for nearly two decades, will launch the charity, along with her new book in March. 

“After experiencing a hard journey including raising a non-verbal autistic child. I decided to set up a charity,” said mother-of-four Stephanie. 

The charity will aim to help and support parents of children with newly diagnosed special needs, especially those who have little or no understanding of their children’s condition. 

I want parents to know that they are not alone. That we are here for them. We can share our experiences together.” 

“Knowledge and love are what we need to deal with these special conditions,” she added. “Together we can break the stigma behind any disability.”

The Peckham-based charity will host a monthly play day where parents can drop off their children and have some well-earned respite time. There will also be a speech therapist at the centre to help and support the children. 

“I was cut off from the world,” says Stephanie. “I didn’t even have time to go to the hairdresser or get my nails done. I was no longer me.” 

Stephan, Stephanie’s son, is 18-years-old.

One of the main goals was to allow parents to spend quality alone time with their other children, who may feel that their sibling with a disability gets more of their time and care.

“My youngest daughter always used to complain that I spent too much time with my son Steph and was ignoring her,” said Stephaine. 

“It made me feel like a bad mum,” she added.  

Stephanie has plans to create an after school club to care for children with special needs, yet is struggling to find funding.  

She is hoping that Southwark Council will help her and fund the organisation, as so far has had to do everything “without any help or support” alongside working for the NHS. 

The creation of StephTogether is itself reflective of Stephaine’s own journey, and how she overcame her personal struggles as a mother with a disabled son. 

“This is my heart. This is what I always wanted to do. But I was not stable in my mind.” 

She experienced much hardship after her son was diagnosed with autism in November, which left her with depression and suicidal thoughts.  

“I couldn’t work again. I lost my job, my family got broke, my marriage ended. I was not me anymore.

“But now I am better, now I am stronger,” she added.  

Stephaine believed her organisation could challenge misconceptions surrounding her son’s condition. 

“There is a lot of misunderstanding and ignorance in society. People used to think my son was possessed or that I was a bad mum.” 

“I wish someone had helped me,” she said. 

Stephanie has invited locals to join her at the launch of the charity on the 5th of March. It will be at Peckham Road, SE5 8UA.  

Those who want to find out more can email info@stephtogether.org or check Stephanie’s website: https://csn.stephtogether.org/.

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