Rachael Lucas
Jacqui Ashton Smith
Lorraine MacAlister
Lana Grant
Robyn Steward
Judith Gould
Rachel Townson
Ella Tabb
Becky Dowley
Behind the Mask

Rachael Lucas

Rachel Lucas 

Rachael Lucas is an author, coach and mentor. She lives in the North West of England with her partner (also a writer) and their children. She has written several adult novels, and The State of Grace is her novel for teenagers, written after receiving an Asperger syndrome diagnosis at the same time as her daughter.

Jacqui Ashton Smith

Jacqui Ashton 

Dr Jacqui Ashton Smith is Executive Director of Education at The National Autistic Society. She is responsible for all the education we provide. Jacqui is a qualified teacher with postgraduate qualifications in education, special needs and autism. She has a MBA (Masters of Business Administration) in Educational Management. Her research focused on quality issues in schools and services for people on the autism spectrum.

Jacqui is also a Doctor of Education. Her research identified the characteristics needed in leadership of residential schools for autistic pupils. She presented a paper on this at the International Special Education Conference in Belfast 2010. Jacqui is a Principal trainer for The National Autistic Society. She delivers training nationally and internationally on autism and education-related issues.

She has presented papers on autism, education, transition, person-centred planning and autism-specific quality assurance at three World Congresses: Australia, South Africa and Mexico. She has also presented papers at International Conferences and events in Portugal, Spain, Greece, Scotland, Norway, Catania, Dubai and the UK. She also led a team of consultants advising on autism and education in Jordan. Jacqui co-led the first postgraduate course in Asperger syndrome in the world.

The course is a project by The National Autistic Society and University of Sheffield. Jacqui is also an Associate Tutor at Christchurch University, Canterbury. She delivers a training package for mainstream teachers. Jacqui is a member of the Accreditation Standards Body, an autism- specific quality assurance programme run by The National Autistic Society. She is also a member of the AET Expert Reference Group.

Lorraine MacAlister

 

Lorraine is an Autism Training Consultant for The National Autistic Society, the leading UK charity for autistic people (including those with Asperger syndrome) and their families. Lorraine is passionate about increasing understanding of autism.

Lorraine has worked with a variety of individuals on the autism spectrum, including working in residential settings for autistic adults and at a local Autism Services Group. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a Postgraduate Certificate in Autism.

Working at the NAS since 2005, Lorraine has delivered a variety of autism training to both professionals and families. Covering topics including autism, the SPELL framework, sensory differences, continence, relationships, sexuality and boundaries, and is currently working on the development of an online module for clinicians on diagnosis of autism in women and girls. She has lectured on autism at a variety of UK Universities and is an Honorary Lecturer at the University of Cumbria.

Publications include Toilet Training and the Autism Spectrum: A Guide for Professionals (2016) with Dr Eve Fleming, Toileting problems in children with autism (2014) in The Nursing Times, and the Autism Seminars for Families Facilitator Resource Pack for The National Autistic Society. Lorraine has recently developed the new NAS Teen Life parent support programme and accompanying Licensed User Training. 

Lana Grant

Lana Grant 

Lana Grant is a specialist advisor and advocate for people with autism and their families. She has worked within the field of autism for nearly twenty years. She has a diagnosis of Asperger syndrome which she received in her late thirties. 

Lana is also a parent of children on the autism spectrum. She is experienced in supporting and educating young people with autism from three years into adulthood. 

Lana specialises in autism and females and her debut book From Here To Maternity, pregnancy and motherhood on the Autism Spectrum was published in March 2015 by Jessica Kingsley publishers.

Lana is based in South Staffordshire and is the mother of six children.

Robyn Steward

Robyn Steward 

Robyn Steward is a trainer and consultant, working with a wide range of services for both adults and children across the autism spectrum, as well as her own experience as an adult on the spectrum. Robyn has worked as a mentor for individuals on the spectrum and has undertaken research on issues important to people on the spectrum so as to represent as many different views and experiences as possible.

Robyn is author of The independent woman's handbook for super safe living on the autistic spectrum published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers in 2013.  She spoke at the launch of the autism bill in the house of commons and is on her local autism action plan group and the Department of Health's autism programme board, she has spoken all over the world including the USA, Russia and Australia.

Robyn is a research associate at CRAE centre for research in autism and education at the UCL (University College London) institute of education. In 2015 at the NAS professional awards Robyn was joint winner of "outstanding achievement by an individual on the autism spectrum". Robyn is a National Autistic Soceity ambassador and has worked in autism for 11 years.

Robyn is also a musician and an artist. Robyn has played at the royal festival hall as part of the Beautiful Octopus Club and has released an EP and several singles with Mark ty Wharton (aka Tinley) who has produced and engineered for bands such as Duran Duran. Robyn has recently completed 2 commissions to write songs for events for autistic children at the Tate Britain.

Judith Gould

Judy Gould 

Judith Gould, is the Lead Consultant at The NAS Lorna Wing Centre for Autism and retired as Director of the Centre in 2015. She is a Chartered Consultant Clinical Psychologist, with over 40 years experience, specialising in autism spectrum disorders and learning disabilities.  

Before being the Director of The Lorna Wing Centre she worked as a member of the scientific staff of the Medical Research Council Social Psychiatry Unit and was a Senior Lecturer at the Institute of Psychiatry, University of London. She has also worked as a Clinical Psychologist within both health and social services.  She has published widely in the field of autism spectrum disorders.  Her current interest is the diagnosis of women and girls in the spectrum.

Lorna Wing and Judith Gould’s early work in the 1970s on the epidemiology of autism and related conditions, led to the concept of a spectrum of autistic conditions. Judith Gould together with Lorna Wing set up The Centre for Social and Communication Disorders (now the Lorna Wing Centre for Autism) which was the first service in the UK to provide a complete diagnostic, assessment and advice service for children, adolescents and adults with social and communication disorders.  

In addition to setting up the Centre as a model for diagnosing autism spectrum disorders the Centre’s team offers training to professionals in their methods of diagnosis and assessment of needs. Lorna Wing and Judith Gould developed an interview schedule called the Diagnostic Interview for Social and Communication Disorders (DISCO) to be used as part of the diagnostic process. This schedule enables the professional to use a dimensional approach when making a diagnosis which is more helpful than diagnostic sub-grouping when planning treatment, education and care. This approach bests fits the new DSM 5 Diagnostic Classification System. The DISCO is widely used throughout the UK and overseas and training in its use is carried out both at the Centre and internationally.

Becky Dowley

Becky Dowley 

Becky Dowley was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome in 2014 aged 46. As with many women on the autism spectrum, she found out she was autistic after researching her son’s diagnosis. Determined to empower herself she has just completed a Masters in Autism (adults). During her Masters, Becky has focused most of her research around the experiences of women on the Autistic spectrum. This has included how employment, children and study have affected them. For her dissertation she completed a study on the stimming behaviours of 21 autistic women. 

Becky is particularly motivated by promoting the voices of women on the spectrum so that they can tell their own stories and influence policy and practice. This motivation comes from being involved with people on the spectrum since she started work at 18 in a residential and day care setting. She then went on to teach in a further and higher education college which she still enjoys 17 years later, as well as being a foster carer with her husband. Both in her teaching and foster caring role she has advocated for and supported young people on the spectrum, including many young women starting the diagnosis process.

Becky’s article, The development and importance of the autistic voice in understanding autism and enhancing services, was published in the Good Autism Practice journal in May 2016. She is currently collaborating on a book with a male colleague who is on the spectrum. Becky has written an article for the Pagan Disabilities Project on Autism, Nature and Spirituality, which was published in the Pagan Dawn magazine (Imbolc 2017), and her blog Autistic Nature is imminent. In 2018 she hopes to start a Doctorate in Autism with Birmingham University. 

Ella Tabb

Ella Tabb 

Ella Tabb is a blogger, YouTuber and autism speaker. Having struggled with a lifetime of mental health issues Ella was diagnosed with autism in 2015 after her son's diagnosis helped her to recognise her own autism. Since then, her daughter has also been diagnosed with autism so she belongs to a very autistic family. Ella has been writing, talking about and researching autism ever since. 

She runs a successful blog and YouTube channel under the title Purple Ella where she talks about autism, including her own experiences and coping strategies. Ella's life has improved immeasurably since being diagnosed and understanding her difficulties and reducing her triggers. She is passionate about the benefits of diagnosis and appropriate support for autistic people. 

Rachel Townson

Rachel Townson

Rachel has worked in a variety of paid and voluntary roles for The National Autistic Society since 2005, becoming involved in the autism field as her older brother is diagnosed on the autism spectrum. She spent her student years researching autism and was keen to share her knowledge and experience with others, leading her to a career with The National Autistic Society.

 

Rachel has worked with autistic children and adults in a variety of roles, including as a Befriender, Residential Support Worker and a Family Support Worker. After delivering a variety of family seminars, Rachel joined The National Autistic Society Training Team to work on the Ask autism Project. During her time within the team and through hearing from so many inspiring people on the autism spectrum she began to self-identify as being autistic, and was given a formal diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome was given in June 2014. Rachel continues to work within the training and consultancy team and enjoys her continued work with others on the autism spectrum.

 

As Online Training Development Manager, she is passionate about increasing people’s autism knowledge and understanding and including the autistic voice throughout our training.

 

Modules she has been involved in developing include autism and the police service, sport, managing money and safeguarding. Her latest project and the one she is probably most passionate about is the women and girls module!

Autism: Behind the Mask project

Behind the Mask 
Project conference speakers are: Holly Judge, Emily Niemc, Ester Jovin, Laura Williams, Omeh Egbe, Clare Daborn and Helen Ellis.

This project is funded by the John and Lorna Wing Foundation, overseen by Richard Mills and Judith Gould, and led by Sylvia Kenyon. It is a follow-up of the EU project Autism in Pink, exploring the lives of 10 UK-based women on the autism spectrum; we were all also involved in Autism in Pink. We attended workshops where we shared our experiences of how autism influences our lives both positively and negatively.

Workshops were structured to explore in depth potential impacts of the most prominent theme that arose out of Autism in Pink – the theme that we now call ‘Camouflage’, which arises due to factors like ‘masking’ and the fact that society tends to have certain expectations of us. Workshops were also structured to reflect the Personal Wellbeing Index (PWI-A, International Wellbeing Group, Australian Centre on Quality of Life, Deakin University), thereby investigating the topics of ‘Standard of Living’, ‘Personal Health’, ‘Achievements’, ‘Personal Relationships’, ‘Community Connectedness’, ‘Personal Safety’, ‘Future Security’, and ‘Religion/Spirituality’.

Together, we have created talks for this conference that summarise what we learnt in the workshops. We share our understanding of ‘camouflage’, giving examples of how ‘masking’ and the expectations of others affect the reality of our lives; how factors such as anxiety, exhaustion, misinterpretation (by others as well as ourselves) can have wide-reaching effects, and how increased awareness all round can help to improve support and interactions with professionals and others. We also share work that we have done to assist GPs when in consultation with women and girls on, or potentially on, the autism spectrum.

For further information, please see the Autism in Pink website. Also, resources we created for GPs will soon be on the Royal College for GPs website.