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About Tania


My name is Tania Tirraoro, founder and co-director of Special Needs Jungle Ltd. We registered SNJ as a non-profit organisation in August 2014.

I am a journalist, author and parent of two young adults with autism, ADHD and Ehlers Danlos syndrome. I also have EDS, often needing to use a wheelchair, and was diagnosed as autistic age the age of 46.

I started this blog back in 2008, to help other parents, who like us, were entering the jungle of special needs education. It's a scary, stressful place. I now live in Surrey, but my northern, single-parent, working-class girl roots formed my character. I firmly believe the weakest among us should be supported and not vilified, victimised or abandoned.

I worked in broadcast news for a decade before we had our children. Going back to work full-time wasn't feasible because we knew instinctively that they were not "your average bears". But it was a journey, and one that many others will recognise, to discover why that was, what it was that was different and how to find the help they needed.  There was little help from schools; not because they didn't want to, but because they didn't have the knowledge or the resources.

I realised if I wanted my children to get what they needed, I had to put in the work to do it. I also built up a good relationship with our SENCo who provided me with as much information as I needed, without overstepping the boundaries of what she was "permitted" to do by the council. I wrote long documents, supported by medical and educational reports and, eventually, they landed with fees paid, and an amazing independent specialist school. When they left, they had armfuls of top qualifications and lifelong friends.

My eldest is now a gainfully-employed university graduate and a new father. My youngest is a uni student with the support they need to get where they want to go.

But still, many years and a system change after we began our route through the jungle, it's more difficult than ever for families to get the support their children need. It shouldn't be like this but so far, the new SEND system has caused chaos, pain and confusion for many families.

I hope parents can use this website, now registered as a non-profit, to find useful information and resources and that you will feel able to share your own experiences and resources with you. I hope professionals using it will get an insight into the lives of families and be inspired to learn more about supporting children with SEND.

Bio

  • Post-graduate qualified broadcast and print journalist, having worked in local, national and international radio and television as a reporter, producer and presenter
  • Published author
  • Qualified EFL teacher (TESOL)
  • Founder & co-director of Special Needs Jungle Ltd
  • Co-founder of SEND Community Alliance campaign collaborative
  • Member of Whole School SEND ERG, Every Leader a Leader of SEND
  • Member of Ofsted SEND Stakeholder Advisory Group
  • Member (via SNJ/SCA) of DfE Ministerial Advisory Group
  • Member (via SCA) of Special Education Consortium
  • Member of Advisory Group for Royal Holloway University of London Gene and Cell Therapy Centre
  • Member of Editorial Board, Gene Therapy Journal

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15 Comments

  1. amanda walsh

    My son is currenlty in yeat 3 main stream with a full 25 hour statement, but latey his behaviours have become extreme and he has been refusing to attend school. He isnt managing his school work and it usually very bright and itelllgent, we just dont know what to do and the school seem to be no helo. we kow he would be much happoer in a specialist school were he would get full support in the right form, but dont know how to go about this. We are based in manchester. any advice would be most helpful
    amanda

  2. smita

    Tania, i have just come across your website and it is such an apt title because it really is a jungle. i am trying to find a way of having information in a more structured way for parents to understand the system of special educational needs and how to get the help their child needs. i am going to look at everything on your website in more detail but in the meantime, do you think this is possible and if so, can you help me start. It just seems so much confusion in what you can get or not get, what is available,etc.

    smita

  3. Janine

    I just wanted to say what a great website,my little boy starts school this year. He is very behind in his speech and Early years have recommended for him to be statemented. Speech and language have finally agreed to back early years and myself in wanting this for my little boy. Still a long road I know! He was born at 26 wks and has had numerous issues with bronchial and tummy problems/feeding and food sensitivities.

    I will be ordering your book to help me along my way.

    Regards

    Janine

    1. Tania Tirraoro

      Hi Janine
      Good luck to you, I’m sure you won’t have any problems with the statement as he is such a young age. Just make sure it says everything it needs to say (my book will help with this). Depending on where you live, you may be able to be part of a pathfinder trial (there are 31 local authorities)
      When he gets a statement it will be changed in due course to an EHCP when the new system comes in, in 2014. Be informed and be your boy’s advocate. To do this, you need to take care of yourself – do not put your own needs and health last, but equal.
      Best wishes to you
      Tania

  4. Hi!

    I’m trying to use the contact form, however an error message keeps popping up when I press send!

    I’m a freelance journalist based in London working on a series of stories about children with disabilities/special needs in the UK. This is part of my final master’s project and parts of it will be published for an NGO called Safe World for Women. The organisation focuses on women and children’s rights.

    Hayley Goleniowska from Down Side Up suggested I contact you concerning the Children and Families Bill and SEN reforms. If you’re interested in talking to me, I prefer to do an in-person interview, however, I can also via phone or Skype. My deadline is July 29.

    Looking forward to hearing from you!

    Best,
    Kulsoom

  5. Melanie

    Tania and Debs – I am new to the SNJ site but wanted to tell you that it is a brilliant resource for parents! – thank you SO MUCH for all the work that has gone into making this site very easy to understand and VERY VERY helpful! I have a 15YO son with ASD and feel very scared about all the upcoming changes. It’s wonderful knowing that you guys are out there!

    1. Hi Melanie, thanks for your kind words. If you haven’t already, why not sign up on the top left of the site for new posts to be emailed to you, so you know when something new is out? I have a 14.5 year old and a 16 year old with ASD, so I know what you’re going through!

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