The Toby Henderson Trust charity was formally registered in May 1999 by Lesley Henderson as a direct result of Lesley’s youngest son, Toby (pictured), being diagnosed with autism. Along with family and friends she was immediately struck by how little support there seemed to be “out there” for parents and carers. As a parent Lesley grieved for a son who was an isolated, frightened and bewildered little boy who could seemingly no longer make any sense of the world around him. A fruitless year searching for information and support in the North East region left Lesley’s family shattered and Toby even less in control.
So she decided to take matters into her own hands because she realised no one else would, after all who would be be more motivated than her family to find help for him?
“Our aims are still firmly rooted in empowering parents, families and carers, but also extending our work to the wider family and the wider ‘community’ involved in supporting these wonderful children.”
Lesley’s journey took her to London, America and finally back to our native North East, where the result of the family’s journey of discovery is now a thriving autism centre at Earth Balance in Bedlington, Northumberland.
Originally born out of an overwhelming desire to share and disseminate information to other families like the Henderson’s, The Toby Henderson Trust still believes passionately in the essential power of knowledge. The team at the Trust has grown its skill base over the years to a point where The Toby Henderson Trust team are now the regional specialist in early intervention with autistic children. This early intervention opens the door to the essential communication between autistic children and their parents and carers. This early focus on communication often opens the door to independent living in later life.
Lesley believes that knowledge is at the root of the confidence required for parents and carers to make their own decisions about how best to support an autistic child. This knowledge is a wonderful and empowering tool and one which everyone involved with autistic children should be privileged to possess.