Sarah Shearman founder of Autism Angels, formerly known as Sarah Kreutzer and for her Horse Whispering skills.
About Autism Angels
Sarah’s mum has fostered children for as long as Sarah can remember, in both Australia and England. Sarah’s parents currently have eight foster adults living with them on a permanent basis, six of them are on the Autistic Spectrum. Sarah has been brought up with them, lived with them and travelled the world with them to places such as Europe and America.
Sarah feels that she wants to carry on in her mum’s footsteps, by giving to others and providing them opportunities to lead big and full lives. She is very clear in that she wants to work with children, families, professionals, volunteers and the horses. Setting up Autism Angels is her way of continuing this work, giving back as she has received so much from being with her extended family and transforming lives. Sarah is deeply grateful to her parents for all the rich opportunities they have given her and just wants to be able to offer these opportunities to others.
Over a decade ago, Sarah created a series of concepts from the work she had been doing with the horses into helping teenage children with emotional, behavioural and social difficulties (EBSD) and opened her own independent school.
Having experienced such success with the children, Sarah has gone on to develop these concepts so that they could be taught to anyone who wanted to work with people in general. Using her knowledge of horses with extreme behaviours and experience with children with EBSD and extreme behaviours, Sarah has been able to develop a programme that will add value to anyone who attended it.
Corporate companies, individuals, children and horses have been coming to Learning To Listen for over 14 years now to learn about these inspirational yet gentle and simple concepts. Sarah aims to continue developing her techniques so that even more people, horses and children can benefit from her Learning To Listen forms of communication.
About Sarah Shearman founder of Autism Angels
Sarah had an idyllic childhood up until the age of 7 when a series of events turned her world upside down. An unexpected trauma, her parent’s divorce, moving country and discovering that the man she thought was her father was not, were just some of the events she had to deal with up until the age of 11.
As she voyaged into her teenage years it became apparent that she was not going to excel at school and left with no qualifications at the age of 15. Looking to get her ‘perfect’ childhood life back which she had up until the age of 7, she left home at the age of 15 and returned to her home country of Australia; things were not as she had remembered. She became ill and returned to the UK just 9 months later.
The next event came as a bolt out of the blue for Sarah. During a riding accident a friend was tragically killed in front of her eyes, sending her world into turmoil once again. This was a difficult time for Sarah and her lifelong love for horses was in question. A move to America, living from hand to mouth and place to place with her 2 year old daughter, was another learning journey she experienced.
Returning to England, having worked with the Horse Whisperer Monty Roberts she found the perfect name for her new business; Learning To Listen was born.
About Learning To Listen
Living with her mum, from a computer in her bedroom she started Learning To Listen (LtL). Her life with horses was back on track and the horse work started to flow in. This developed into camps for children and accredited courses for adults.
One day a mother turned up at LtL with her 12 year old son. They were having a lot of trouble at home getting along and school was no better. Sarah invited mum in for coffee while her son refused to get out of the car. Seven hours he stayed in the car and when he got out Sarah offered him a Saturday job. This led the young lad to working at LtL at weekends, then work experience then getting a job and living at LtL. This is where the children’s mission started.
Soon LtL became a satellite school for a centre in Harrogate. 8 – 10 children a day were attending LtL for alternative provision, as the school system was not working for them.
LtL then became a registered independent school helping the most difficult to place children who were not fitting into any other forms of education.
Drawing from her experiences of her own life, working with some of Britain’s most dangerous horses and some very troubled teenagers, Sarah had developed a real understanding of peoples and animal’s needs. Though both the horses and children had been brought to Sarah with labels such as ‘dangerous’, ‘out of control’ and ‘end of the road’, she could see beyond the exterior behaviours straight into their hearts. She made a connection with them all and together they worked their way back to a more harmonious life.
It was at this time that Sarah started to document her findings from these amazing learning opportunities. What she had learnt from the horses seemed to be just the same as what the children needed; love, care, and understanding. They needed someone to listen and really understand what they were saying from their point of view.
There had been a lot of interest in what Sarah was doing at LtL; newspapers, magazines, radio and the television had all wanted to come and see what was happening. Even the Hollywood super star Thandie Newton visited the farm to spend a day with the children.
Sarah wanted to share what she had learnt from her experiences and started to offer training days in leadership, her kind of leadership. The kind that inspires and motivates. The corporate world became interested in what she could offer. Her first corporate group was the senior management team from TK MAXX. This progressed to GSL Global, to Northern Rail, to Top Triangle, Addaction and so on. The feedback was overwhelming.
The Corporate days were mostly 1 – 3 days. This did not really allow enough time to work through all the concepts and Sarah felt she was sending people home sometimes with only half of them. Another thing that became apparent was the need for people to take a look at their personal lives as these were often influencing their work lives. The phrase, ‘You always take the weather with you’ came to mind.
It became evident to Sarah that a course which included all the concepts, as well as the section on personal development was much needed. The Warrior Programme was created. The Warrior Programme covers areas such as personal development, leadership, teamwork, adversity, success and much more.
The concepts that Sarah has developed are undoubtedly working, now with research papers to back up our findings and she believes that anyone, anywhere and at any stage of their life can learn them.
Her mission now is to share these concepts and bring knowledge, understanding and harmony into people’s lives.