Business Angels Needed For Start-up

My name is Chris Rushton. I'm about to start a charity called Picky Kids, that provides free workshops for autistic children and their families.  These workshops focus on autistic children that struggle daily with sensory food issues and aim to get them comfortable with the life skill of cooking.  This cause is something that is very close to my heart.  I have no doubt that my personal experience of raising an autistic child is probably a familiar case, to those whom have experience of Autistic Spectrum Condition (ASC).  From a very early age, my eldest child  would projectile vomit after every feed and he consequently began to lose weight. Although I was seeking answers at this point; autism was a word I’d never heard before let alone considering it as a cause for my son's behaviour and food aversions.  I followed all the instructions I was given by professionals in the hope that the process would uncover some much needed answers.  However, no matter what I did, my son just wouldn’t keep his food down. As a parent, I saw my primary responsibility was to ensure the wellbeing of my child.   One of the most difficult things I had to contend with was my son’s poor diet, especially during his times of stress when he refused to eat completely. At the age of 6 my son was diagnosed as being on the autistic spectrum.   I have since learnt that he also has an autism-related feeding disorder, which involves extreme food selectivity, due to sensory-related aversions to food tastes and textures (tolerating less than 10 foods, often with the same texture or substance).  There are approximately 700,000 people with ASC/ASD in the UK, 150,000 of this figure are children and 90% have sensory issues around food, which is known as a restrictive feeding disorder.  I am therefore driven to learn more about the mechanism of autism, the interventions available and the assessment process so that I can better understand the problems he faces and be able to help other parents who are in a similar position to me.  
Funding rules state that only professionals that work with autism can have access to long term funding from societies such as Autistica. For this reason I need to hold a professional qualification in autism. Also the course will equip me with a range of abilities that I can utilise when delivering the free workshops.
In order to broaden my understanding of autism, I looked at a number of courses. The University of Kent is the only UK University, which offers a part-time MA in Autism Studies by distance learning, which is a perfect option for me due to my heavy caring responsibilities.  The Tizard centre where the course will be held is at the forefront of learning and research in Autism and in 2013 received a Queen’s Anniversary Prize in recognition of its outstanding work in these areas. I have found that caring for a child with autism can be a very isolating especially for single parents like me.  For this reason I felt that appealing for assistance with tuition fees,  would not only raise much needed funds, but also place me in contact with other people who may have had a similar experiences, increasing my social inclusion and giving potential donors  a vested interest in the project. The tuition fees for this course are currently £2620 for the first year.  

I intend to use the qualification to study food therapy and combine this with my knowledge of autism so I can set up a charity that will help other families that live with autism related feeding disorders. This qualification will no doubt enhance my credibility in the field which will open the gates for future funding of the charity


Chris Rushton 
Kingswinford, West Midlands, United Kingdom

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