Meet Ruth Pearse, founder and CEO of Parenting Special Children

Article date
12 November 2021
Primary interest
Families and Parenting

Ruth Pearse is the founder and CEO of Parenting Special Children. Parenting Special Children is based in Reading but support families throughout Berkshire. Their Neurodiversity Conference – aimed at providing parents/carers and practitioners with a greater understanding of Special Educational Needs and Disabilities – takes place via Zoom on 18 November 2021.

Tell us about Parenting Special Children and your role…

I started the charity 15 years ago to provide specialist support to families like mine who had a child/young person with special educational needs and disabilities. When my daughter was first diagnosed it was a whole new world that I needed to navigate and I really didn’t know where to start to find information and support, and felt very isolated. Over the past 15 years, we have responded to the immediate needs of our families. Our services have expanded to include services for adopted and foster families focusing on trauma and attachment, community support groups for dads and male carers, support groups for our more vulnerable families and our work with neurodiverse children and young people. We have recently expanded our work to include supporting families as they progress from childhood to adulthood. We have a very holistic support service, really defined by feedback from families and our own experiences of raising children/young people and young adults who are neurodiverse.

Describe a typical working day for you…

Like many managers and CEOs, my day is often filled with meetings, however, touching base with staff and volunteers (I prefer to call them colleagues) is really important. A very strong aspect of the charity is bringing lived experience to our roles and this is much appreciated by families. This means that we too need to offload: spending time talking first thing in the morning is important for us all. I love to be hands-on, too, and I have had the privilege of joining one of our autistic young people’s groups – so on a Monday, you may find me doing a fun activity in Tilehurst. I also lead on our new transition to adulthood service, so may well be facilitating a workshop.

What’s the most challenging part of your job?

The most challenging part of my job is funding – we can’t support families without funding. Due to the challenges of Covid, and the pressure that this has put on families, there is more need, but many charities are struggling to meet the need with limited resources so funding is difficult to get. This means that we can’t support as many families as we would like. That is hard.

What’s the best part of your job?

The best part of my job is seeing the difference we make to families. I love it when parents and children/young people tell us the impact that the charity has had on their lives, or that they feel more empowered to support their child/young person.

Tell us a little about yourself and your background…

My background is in teaching. I was a teacher in a school with a specialist unit, but what has really shaped my life, and was the reason I founded the charity, was my experience as a parent of a child, now adult, with a learning disability and and how different it felt from my peer group. This spurred me on to set up the charity and 15 years later we have a great team of very professional staff who share their knowledge and experience.

Find out more about Parenting Special Children and the support they offer at