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.

Kate Richardson, Wales

Kate Richardson is an experienced Responsive Communication practitioner and a founding director of Autism Wellbeing CIC (, a social enterprise providing a range of services to autistic people and their families.

Kate also works part time for the NHS as a highly specialist speech and language therapist supporting adults with a learning disability. Kate is a trained Irlen Screener and has qualifications in Sensory Integration and Sensory Attachment Intervention. Kate was one of the two practitioners on the Caldwell Autism Foundation’s Responsive Communication project for families in Carmarthenshire, which provided Responsive Communication support to 58 autistic children and young people and their families. Kate has delivered one-day Responsive Communication workshops to hundreds of parents and practitioners across Wales and England. Kate has co-authored several teaching and learning resources on inclusion, diversity and communication and recently contributed a chapter to the book on Responsive Communication edited by Phoebe Caldwell and published by Pavilion in June 2019.

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.