Our Patron – Phoebe

“If you have autism, the brain is like a kaleidoscope where the pattern never settles.”

Phoebe Caldwell is an expert practitioner who has spent 45 years working with people on the Autistic Spectrum, many of whom have severe behavioural distress and some but not all, severe intellectual disabilities. She held a Rowntree Research Fellow for four years. She trains professionals, therapists, managers, practitioners, parents and carers in the successful approach now known as Responsive Communication – a combined Approach which pays Attention to Sensory Issues as well as to personal Body Language (Intensive Interaction). She also works directly with individuals. She is employed by the NHS, Social Services, Community Services and Education Services and directly by families, to work with ‘difficult-to-engage with’ individuals. She is the author of fourteen books on autism(with some Russian, German and Norwegian translations).  Her latest books, which combine best practice with recent neurobiological research, are  ‘Responsive Communication’, (New, written with six other practitioners, including a Psychiatrist, a Speech Therapist, an Occupational Therapist, two Service Managers and a wrongly diagnosed Service User), ‘Hall of Mirrors: Shards of Clarity’ and ‘The Anger Box’.

Together with Janet Gurney, she has recently produced a major training film, ‘Responsive Communication’. This comprehensive free-to-view training film, funded by The Caldwell Autism Foundation, is divided into 26 sections dealing with practical and theoretical aspects of autism. It is currently being updated with two new sections.

In 2009, Phoebe won the Times/Sternberg award for her work to improve the outlook for people with severe autism. The award, then in its second year, celebrates the achievements of people aged 70 or over who have done most for society and good causes in their older age. In 2011 she was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Science (DSc) by Bristol University for her work on communication with people on the autistic spectrum and those with profound multiple learning disabilities.

Phoebe has also published two books on Aging: ‘Driving South to Inverness’ (reflections on moving into sheltered housing) and her most recent, ‘Maybugs and Mortality’, a light–hearted look at the physiological and psychological differences between having an internal or an external skeleton).Both published by Pavilion.

Personal: Age is catching up with me. From November 2018 I shall no longer be giving all day training sessions round the country, unless transport is provided. (Trains are too much of a struggle). I am still working locally (North Yorkshire), and visiting local children and adults at home or in residential care. Alternatively I will lay on a day’s training for interested Professionals and Parents at my home to discuss their family members. (No more than two at a time in a small flat in Settle. Settle has railway station). This seems to work well if they send film on memory stick beforehand so that I have had time to consider the difficulties that are being encountered.