Rebecca Perkins knows first-hand the struggle of caring for a special needs child – and she’s keen to help others in the same boat.
The Hoppers Crossing mother has been involved with special needs children for the past 18 years, starting off as a special needs teacher in the UK, getting qualifications in child psychology and sociology, and finally as mum to 12-year-old son Lachlan, who has ADHD and an intellectual disability.
Frustrated with the lack of information and support for parents of children with additional needs, she started up the My Special Child website to provide information, strategies and support to parents, carers and educators of children with a special need. The site has quickly gained a large online following.
Last year, Ms Perkins also started hosting conferences as another way to give parents and carers support. This year she’s taking it one step further, hosting the Melbourne Special Needs Expo at Encore Events Centre on June 30.
The expo will include about 60 special needs exhibitors and a range of guest speakers.
“There’s lots of websites out there for autism, for ADHD, but the problem is there’s very few kids who fit neatly into one box. I wanted to create something that provided people – parents, mostly – with the information they needed, regardless of the situation,” Ms Perkins said.
“People don’t realise just how little support is out there for parents. There’s hundreds of conferences for teachers [in dealing with children with special needs], but there’s none for parents.
“Parents don’t get even a fraction of the help they need. Parents get a diagnosis, their child is struggling with something, and they don’t know what to do about it.”