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Education for children with autism

411. Karen Sorab

A mother from Wandsworth who founded charity Beyond Autism and an independent school for children with autism, which has grown from four to 68 pupils over the last 15 years.

Alongside two other parents, Karen Sorab, 53, founded the Rainbow school in 2000 to provide specialised education for autistic children, including her daughter. The school is now a world-class facilities with over 120 staff members providing education for 68 pupils from 15 different local authorities.

Having a child with autism, Karen understood how challenging it can be for a family to deal with the challenges they can face, particularly with communication skills. It was this that motivated her to start a school with focused on giving children confidence, independence and self-belief to help overcome communication problems.

Under Karen’s leadership, the Rainbow School and its staff have been able to make breakthroughs in communication with its pupils which dramatically improve their ability to interact in a world that can be confusing. Karen has worked tirelessly volunteering for the Rainbow school, making a huge impact to the quality of lives of both the school’s pupils and their families. She worked unpaid as the Chief Executive of the school from the beginning until September 2015, and now sits as Chair of the Trustees.

As well as her commitment to the Rainbow School, Karen is a member of two Wandsworth Educational Authority working groups which look at the provision and support for children with autistic spectrum disorders and their families in the borough. Karen also regularly gives public speeches to a variety of groups raising awareness of autism, ABA and Rainbow School.

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

“Children with autism can face additional challenges in their education but with the Rainbow School, Karen has created a fantastic place where they can receive one to one attention tailored to their needs. It not only makes a difference in the lives of the young people who learn there, but also in their families who it supports. Karen is a thoroughly deserving Point of Light.” 

The daily Points of Light award recognises outstanding individual volunteers - people who are making a change in their community.

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