Holly Clarke


I started SOFA not long after receiving my son, Harry’s diagnosis.  My vision was to not only raise awareness and acceptance but to build a community that could support, provide information and create activities for families like mine.  I never dreamt that from our first family fun day we would have achieved as much as we have already in such a short space of time. I am a Mum of 3 boys and having worked within the marketing, events and media industries for over a decade combined with my passion to help as many people and families living with autism organising and creating things from fundraising to activity plans have proved to be a great combination, I can honestly hand on heart say that I love my work.

Shani Smith


II am a Mum to four wonderful children Kieran, 16, Rian, 7, Nimah, 5 and Evie 4 and I am married to my wonderful husband, Jamie.  Back in August 2008 I had just finished university qualifying as a primary teacher, when I discovered I was pregnant with my second child.  That child would change my life for the better.  My son Rian was born in 2009 during a quick but difficult labour.  He was the perfect baby so quiet and content although would often bang his head against his cot or walls.  We always knew he was different but didn’t want to believe it at first and every time we asked our health visitor why he wasn’t reaching his goals or talking we were always met with the saying “boys develop slower than girls”.
Eventually around 3 years of age things were getting so hard for us, we couldn’t go out as he would throw massive tantrums and hit out at us and then when we finally did get out we would be met with glares and whispers from others followed by more tantrums to go home again.  It got to the point when going out just caused us misery and we would prefer to be at home.
Eventually at the age of 4 and after having started reception Rian was given the diagnosis of autism.  We were relieved to finally have answers but also scared for his future.  Luckily for us Rian went to an amazing infant school who supported and nurtured him into the amazing little boy he is today.  He is now at a wonderful special needs school and is going from strength to strength.
Rian loved to play football at school but I didn’t feel comfortable taking him to sessions with trainers that never understood him and that is when I heard about SOFA and the football school.  He absolutely loved them and the coaches were all amazing with him and really understood.
This is also when I met Holly which changed everything.  Myself and my husband really enjoyed having other parents to talk to who knew where we were coming from and who could laugh or cry with us if needed, up until then I found it very lonely and hard to socialise with others.
It feels as if I have been friends with Holly forever, we clicked straight away.  I loved what she was doing with SOFA and helped at a few events and the rest is history.  I am very proud to be a part of the SOFA family and love the thought of being able to support others as SOFA has me.


© 2017 Stand Out For Autism

Charity Number (1174844)

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1 Bell Street, Maidenhead, Berkshire, SL6 1BU

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