A mother from New Malden is at a “crossroads” after her autistic daughter's specialist practitioner handed in her notice.

Mum Laura, 36, said the family will be left with a huge vacancy once 'wonderful' social communication practitioner Zara moves on and she is desperate to find someone new.

Laura's youngest daughter Neve, 4, was diagnosed with autism when she was three years old and it was recommended that she would require special needs education.

“When I looked into that I was reluctant to put my daughter in those environments as I thought they were over stimulating and behaviour orientated,” Laura told Sutton Guardian.

After some research, she decided to take her daughter to the American Autism Treatment Center for the ‘The Son-Rise Program’ in Massachusetts.

Laura was inspired by the program and began learning about what motivates her daughter and getting to better understand what life is like for her.

“We went to America and did a 40-hour immersive training. Neve got 40 hours of the therapy, myself and my partner Karen and our first nanny got the same forty hours of intensive training and we became practitioners,” Laura said.

From there the family’s “whole life changed”.

Everyone altered their diets to exclude sugar, gluten and dairy and their conservatory was converted into a playroom for Neve.

“You would do anything for your child," the mum said.

Laura now runs a 50-60 hour Son-Rise like programme at home in New Malden for Neve.

However, the lead practitioner handed in her notice two weeks ago.

Laura said: "Our wonderful practitioner Zara, who has been with us from the start is sadly leaving us to pursue her own business plans, leaving this huge vacancy for us to fill.

“We need someone with a great attitude and energy and the rest we will provide the training for."

Because Zara is leaving Laura will lose 17 and half hours of service per week.

Laura, who also works in Kingston Hospital, now needs to replace the practitioner so that her daughter can continue receiving the same level of support.

She said: “The role requires people who have amazing energy, a sense of fun and excitement but the upmost respect for a child who is autistic for reason.”

When Neve first went to America last year she was “non-verbal” and would rely on a select number of single words.

She would “look through you and not make direct eye contact”, Laura said.

One year on Neve now has “brilliant conversations, tells jokes, has a sense of humour, makes requests, plays with the dogs, is curious and makes eye contact and greets people” her mum said.

At times Laura said that her daughter will “slip into her autistic world” but she is no longer fearful of change and her interactive attention span has risen to 10 to 15 minutes as opposed to one to two minutes before the America trip.

Laura added: “When you change your own attitude and become fascinated with autism - when everyone’s attitude is ‘this child is already unique has exceptional strength’ - then the social communication is a muscle and we will build it.

“All of a sudden autism is something to celebrate. Neve is flourishing."

The ambition for Laura is to maintain the unique way Neve is looked after for another two years before sending her to a mainstream school rather than a special needs education facility.

Currently, Laura and Karen along with four practitioners and two volunteers help with the social communication ‘Son-Rise’ like model for Neve.

The partners both have full-time jobs in order to fund Neve’s development.

To contact Laura about the role of practitioner, or to find out more information, you can contact Sonrise2017@hotmail.com