Siobhan qualified in medicine in 1983 and was working as a doctor in developmental paediatrics when she took a break in practice to have a family. Following her son’s diagnosis of autism aged two years, she left clinical practice to spend more time with him and help the family adapt and flourish. She read extensively and attended autism conferences to learn as much as possible from both experts in the field and autistic adults, focussing on social understanding in autism.
Discovering Carol Gray’s Social Stories….
In 1997 Siobhan attended an autism conference where Carol Gray described an alternative but equally valid autistic perspective – how an autistic child may perceive and interpret the world. Carol introduced her Social Story approach from a platform of absolute respect, not aiming to make autistic people neurotypical, or even tell them what to do, but rather sharing social information, helping them to feel comfortable as themselves in an inhospitable world. This was a unique approach at that time and equipped Siobhan with a completely new understanding of her son. She subsequently trained to write Social Stories in a workshop delivered by Carol Gray and immediately began to write.
The Social Stories were so phenomenally effective she continued to use them to describe every aspect of life, and has not stopped writing since. Her son, armed with the social information he had been missing became more comfortable in the social world and as his confidence grew his learning, along with his self-esteem, flourished. The format of the Stories changed from Social Stories to Junior Articles to Social Articles over the years as he grew up and developed into an articulate young adult . Along the way Siobhan shared what she had learnt about Social Stories with other parents too.
Starting Spectrum Parent Support Group….
At the time there was a growing need in the local area for parents of children with social communication difficulties to have support and strategies to try whilst awaiting a diagnosis. A parent support group called Spectrum was set up by several educational professionals in order to fill this gap. Siobhan was invited to be part of the steering, development and implementation of this group. Spectrum’s ethos was very positive from the start. This was both a new opportunity for parents to share strategies that had worked, and a platform for learning new ideas about how autistic children experienced the world. At Spectrum Siobhan shared her experience and expertise in writing Social Stories™ with other parents, adapting them for their children with success. Thirteen years later this group continues to meet monthly and is still co-led by Siobhan together with two other experienced parents.
Establishing a Social Story Satellite Service for Essex…
Having worked as part of the out-reach training team, Siobhan was recognised as an Associate Specialist affiliated with Market Field School in 2011. Market Field is a day special school in Essex for children and young people between the ages of 5 and 16 who experience moderate learning difficulties with enhanced provision for pupils with autism.
Working with Carol Gray’s approval, under the mentorship of Eileen Arnold, and with Headmaster Gary Smith, Siobhan set up the Satellite Social Stories Service for Essex at Market Field School in 2012. She advises and supports school staff and parents, on request, at both the school and college and each term she delivers one-day workshops in Social Stories to both professionals and parents.
MAZE parenting program….
For the last 10 years Siobhan has been part of the MAZE specialist parenting course leading the session on Social Understanding. This highly acclaimed 12-week program equips parents of children with additional needs, including autism, with information, advice and support to help their child and family to flourish.
As part of the MAZE training team she also delivers social understanding training to professionals from schools and other organisations working with and supporting children on the autism spectrum. Since 2017 she has been providing autism training with MAZE for the Primary Teacher Training Program for Colchester Teacher Training Consortium on an annual basis.
Becoming an author…
Between 2016-18 Siobhan published four books with Jessica Kingsley publishers in the ‘Growing Up with Social Stories’ series. These books are collections of successful Social Stories across the lifespan and the first three have been on the best seller list in their categories since publication.
Joining Team Social Stories….
Siobhan is a member of Team Social Stories. This is a small and select group of professionals worldwide who have been authorised by Carol Gray to provide training in Social StoriesTM to ensure the integrity of the approach. Siobhan is therefore authorised to provide Social Stories workshops throughout the United Kingdom and across Europe on request.
Working with the NAS…
Siobhan also delivers Social Story training to specialist audiences on behalf of the National Autistic Society and travels across the UK to bring Social Story training to schools, colleges, mental health services, social care services, adult learning disability services and all professionals involved in the care and support of children, adolescents and adults on the Autism Spectrum.
If you wish me to deliver training or speak to your organisation please contact me for further details.