Tina Yates Stowmarket, Suffolk

Initially a science teacher, my need to know more about learning differences and sensory issues arose from having three children and a growing awareness of them each having a differing mix of sensory processing difficulties, autism, dyslexia, Irlen Syndrome or dyspraxia. This lead to a career in learning support with particular emphasis on autism, Irlen Syndrome and dyslexia. 

Over the years my work in supporting individuals, their families and teachers/support workers has been in educational and domestic settings, the workplace and the wider environment. Using responsive interaction techniques I can carry out a sensory audit of the home or proposed living area for non-verbal and verbal autistic individuals with a view to making their environment as non-threatening as possible. This will include issues relating to the five accepted senses plus vestibular and proprioceptive issues.

My particular interest and expertise is in Irlen Syndrome and the connection with autistic spectrum disorder. Irlen is a processing difficulty affecting how the brain reacts to light, patterns and other visual stimuli. This can affect so much more than vision – auditory processing, balance, concentration span, behaviour, well-being, reading and writing may be impacted. It is caused by sensitivity to certain wavelengths of light and can effectively be treated by using beneficial colours and textures in the environment together with spectral filter lenses if these are suitable for the individual.

Jemma Swales, Cumbria

I am a trained and experienced professional, offering support to autistic individuals and their families. I have been working with people on the spectrum since the completion of my Psychology Degree in 2006. I worked at a day service in London for adults with autism, primarily as a care worker and latterly, was given the post of ‘Positive Behaviour Support Coordinator’. In this role, I was responsible for working with each of the 40 service users to produce behavioural plans, support the care team with any behavioural challenges and to work with the psychology team to devise strategies to support each individual. During my time at the service, I completed a post-graduate certificate in autism from the University of Birmingham.

Following my time at the day service, I worked as a transition coordinator for Hertfordshire County Council. I worked with families to support them with the beginning stages of transition from children’s services to adult, helping them set up direct payments, develop care plans and arrange respite support. I worked with a range of disabilities and was often called on by my co-workers to support them with more complex cases involving those on the autistic spectrum.

About Me

Since 2011, I have been working as a self-employed autism practitioner in the Cumbria area. My service offers person-centred home support which is not constrained by time limits. I can offer one-off consultations for families and individuals to discuss any difficulties they are experiencing and to work with them to develop behavioural strategies in order to support change. In 2013 I co-founded Autus Cumbria Ltd, a not-for-profit organisation supporting individuals and families in the local area. Autus provide term time youth groups, holiday activities and training for parents/carers, schools, services and businesses.

I have training in areas covering, OCD, anxiety, Intensive Interaction, epilepsy management, Makaton, positive dynamic handling and first aid. I am currently training to be a Human Givens Therapist. I have an enhanced DBS check.

I have experience working with conditions such as OCD and chronic anxiety and with behaviour such as self-harming, ‘violence’ towards the self and others and sexualised behaviour. I have worked closely with people who have ‘shut down’, developing strategies to help them to connect with themselves and their environment once again. I work with a range of ages and abilities, across the spectrum.

I have worked alongside Dr Phoebe Caldwell for over 8 years and I am one of the co-authors of Phoebe’s new book, Responsive Communication.

Jennifer Heath, Kirkby Lonsdale

Jennifer Heath is an Occupational Therapist working at Underley Garden, in Kirkby Lonsdale, where she has worked the past ten years. Underley Garden is a school and children’s’ home for children and young people with autism and complex needs, including behaviour which challenges people around them. Jennifer has completed post- graduate training in Ayres Sensory Integration, using a combination of the Sensory Integration Network and the Collaborative for Leadership in Ayres Sensory Integration (CLASI) pathways. She has completed module 6 with CLASI, which means she is qualified to assess sensory processing, and the impact of this on peoples’ occupational performance and then carry out Ayres Sensory Integration Intervention. Ayres Sensory Integration intervention meets the criteria for an evidence-based intervention (Schoen et al., in press). Jennifer is also the lead organisational practitioner for health and therapy at Underley Garden. Jennifer has presented at conferences nationally, on topics relating to OT and autism.

Nic McNamara,
Lancashire and South Cumbria

I am a Speech and Language Therapist with over 20 years’ experience working with children and adults with autism and/or learning disabilities.

I currently work for the NHS in the Lancashire and South Cumbria Specialist Support Team (SST) ,which is part of Merseycare NHS Trust. I have used Intensive Interaction for many years but have recently worked alongside Dr Phoebe Caldwell to incorporate Responsive Communication into my practice.

I am also trained in the diagnosis of Autism, holding certificates in ADI-R, ADOS and DISCO assessments. My current role in the SST involves working closely with people who present with extreme distress or offending behaviours and their families / care providers.  This includes assessment of the person and their communication environment, therapeutic interventions and recommendations to reduce their risk. My role also involves training for care providers and other stakeholders as well as for other members of my team. 

I am also a key member of a working group within our team, developing services for people with Autism who don’t have a learning disability, as this is a population who currently have extremely limited access to appropriate services.  

Janet Gurney – South East England

I am Director of Training for ‘Us in a Bus,’ a voluntary organisation that uses social interaction to build relationships with people with profound learning difficulties and complex needs including autism and challenging/distressed behaviour. I’ve been using Intensive Interaction in this work for nearly 30 years, and have had the privilege of working alongside Dr Phoebe Caldwell for over 20. Our work involves using experience, perception and sensitivity to establish common ground with people who are often isolated, helping them to have more of a positive voice and an impact on their world. I have a post-graduate certificate in training and I enjoy adapting my training approach to meet the needs of participants.

I also work as a consultant for organisations which want to improve the way they connect with their service users, in the UK and beyond, recently with Caritas, in St Petersburg. I’ve been a guest speaker, alongside Dave Hewett and Gina Davies, at an international Autism conference in Warsaw. In 2015 I addressed the Chromosome18 Europe conference in Rome. Looking at the world from the individual’s viewpoint and the challenges they face means I can use my skills to make a real difference to their lives. The therapeutic impact of this can be seen in people’s increased confidence and willingness to engage with others.

My workshops focus on how to build and develop support for people who can often seem ‘difficult to reach’, including people with pmld and/or autism. We combine the principles and theory of Intensive Interaction with an understanding of sensory processing issues (Responsive Communication) to show how this can be used to build more fulfilling, interactive and equal relationships with people who find communication a huge challenge.

In 2019, I contributed chapters to 2 books promoting the use of Intensive Interaction:

  1. Phoebe Caldwell, Janet Gurney et al (2019) Responsive Communication

Pavilion Publishing and Media Ltd. 

  1. Mark Barber and Graham Firth (Eds) (2019) Delivering Intensive Interaction Across Settings: Practice, Community and Leadership.  Kindle Edition –