My name is Nicola Durrant. During my first year of teaching back in 1998, I very quickly realized that my passion was to work with those children who needed a ‘little extra something’, some additional support along the way. By my second year of teaching, I was fortunate enough to be promoted to the SENCO role and I have never looked back.
Children with special needs have a beauty within the that has never ceased to amaze me, the small steps they take and the sense of satisfaction of working with these children is incredible.
After 8 years working as a SENCO, I gained a job within the Local Authority Specialist Teaching Team where I remained for 13 years. I trained initially as a teach of dyslexia, then a dyslexia assessor and went on to complete my Masters degree in Autism.
I finally reached a point in my career where I no longer wanted to be told what to do or how to do it. I needed to be free of a system which didn’t allow me to do things ‘my way’! This led me to setting up my own independent consultancy ‘ACE-SEN’. The reason I chose ACE was simple. After many failed attempts at designing my own logo, a dear friend Sheena suggested I really dig deep and think about what my passion truly was in terms of special children. I brainstormed ‘words’ connected to my beliefs and picked the 3 most significant – hence the concept of ‘ACE’ was born.
Acceptance (accept everyone)
Celebrate (celebrate difference)
Embrace (Embrace difference – we can’t fix it, why would we want to)
My logo is a representation of one of my favorite sayings ‘square peg in a round hole’. An expressions which neatly describes the individuals who do not fit into our neurotypical’ ways of doing things. So any children I work with are not suited to our education system. Our curriculum is so restrictive, narrowly focused, and does not meet the needs of so many. It can be heart breaking when these individuals are so massively talented but yet fail to thrive and flourish. A major part of my working life has been training and advising settings on how to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate individual differences. I also love more than anything to work with parents so that they can truly understand their children and gain a greater insight into special needs.
As a Mum…………………..
I am proud to be the Mum to two beautiful children. My eldest, a 15 year old young lady, red headed, feisty personality and is the main driving force for me wanting to work independently. Throughout her childhood, she had always been hard work. I put it down to ‘her just being her’. She sailed through primary without a care in the world. Secondary school was a different matter. Within the first year, she became a self-harmer and her mental health deteriorated over the course of time. Secondary school was a miserable period for our family unit and the impact has been significant. It is only luck that my marriage has survived. After much soul searching and questioning, my beautiful young lady received a diagnosis of autism with a PDA (Pathological Demand Avoidant) profile. We finally had our answers. A mainstream setting wasn’t for her and she now flourishes in an alternative provision.
As a professional and a Mum, I know how immensely challenging life can be for my child with special needs. I have never stopped fighting for my child, and I understand the pressures and sacrifices this can bring to any parent. I totally ‘get it’!
My mission is to ensure that these children get the right support for their needs. Behind the right support comes knowledge and understanding. The more we understand about a person’s individual profile, the more we can move towards giving them the support they need to flourish and reach their potential. This is the same for any individual whether they are autistic, have ADHD, dyslexia and so on.
I am also a qualified Life Coach and have been privileged to work alongside the experienced Suzanne Davison who I am proud to call a trusted colleague and friend. Suzanne has run a thriving therapy business in Chelmsford for the past 9 years. She has recently embarked on a new venture ‘fix my family’ coaching www.fixmyfamily.co.uk which is an ever expanding group of life coaches making a difference to the lives of many.
Suzanne and I have worked jointly on many occasions with individual families providing bespoke packages to those with special educational needs. The combination of bringing mental health together with an understanding of special needs has proved invaluable and we have achieved some significant results for individuals and their families.