Transforming Lives Project Founders

John Swannell, internationally celebrated fashion and portrait photographer, has spent his life photographing the world's most famous people. John and his wife Marianne collaborate with us on the Transforming Lives project because their adult son, Charlie, has Asperger syndrome, a form of autism.

“Charlie's teenage years were traumatic: he suffered several breakdowns and had to be withdrawn from education. My wife, Marianne, and I struggled to find a way forward as, although there is advice and help for parents of young children on the autism spectrum, there is virtually no form of support for parents of young adults going through this very difficult stage in their development. Charlie is still trying to get his life back on track and he's not alone.” – John Swannell

Find out more about John's work

What is the Transforming Lives Project?

Transforming Lives is a project which aims to provide support to young autistic people and their families in the transitional period between education and adult life. For any young person, leaving school and starting the journey into adult life and independence can be an anxious and stressful time.

However, for someone on the autism spectrum this time of transition can become a time of crisis, as they suffer from the loss of school and child support services that they needed for a sense of routine and certainty.

Small numbers of young people are able to access services such as social groups, but the vast majority of young people and their families struggle to get the advice and support they need.

If you would like to learn more about the issue of transitions, you can do so here.

The Project’s Aims and Vision

With the dedicated support of John and Marianne, Transforming Lives has been designed to support young autistic adults  and their families to manage this transitional time into adult life, which can often be distressing and the cause of a lot of anxiety.  Without the right support, these young people may experience social isolation, mental health issues and a continued – or even indefinite – dependence upon their parents.

We therefore help them to plan for the future and access the services they need. We know that if autistic people autism receive the right support at critical times of their life, such as after diagnosis and during transition, they can lead more independent and fulfilling lives.  

While the project has so far had a very positive impact for the families we have supported, in 2016 the project expanded our reach across the whole of the UK to the many more families living with autism who need and deserve this type of support.

By expanding our reach to provide the UK’s first autism-specific transition support service, we are able to give families affected by autism one-to-one support, as well as access to the most up to date information about their rights and the services that should be available to them.

Through this important project, we hope to create a better system which enables young autistic people to navigate the transition to adulthood successfully and without stress and anxiety, so that they may go on to lead the fulfilling lives they deserve.

For further information on our Transition Support Service please click here.


If you would like to support Transforming Lives, you can donate:

  • via our online donation page
  • via post: The National Autistic Society, 393 City Road, London, EC1V 1NG
  • or call us on 0808 800 1050