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Autism Early Support

The Circle Centre - our specialist nursery
Child and Family Services
New Service - The Parent’s Portal

Who we are

Our charity offers early support and specialist education to autistic children, children with sensory, communication and interaction differences and their families.

We believe every child should have the chance to find their place in the world, be able to communicate their needs and learn alongside their peers with acceptance and support.

Our aim is to work alongside parents and practitioners to give every child the foundations they need for the next stage of their education. If we can enable a child to feel safe and understood, they become happier and they can flourish.

Established in 2001 and formerly known as the Puzzle Centre, read Our Story.

What we do

Our early support and specialist education encompasses specific, structured and targeted neuroaffirmative approaches founded on established research, evidence-based practice and our extensive experience.

Through our services, we aim to equip all children with the tools and confidence they need to communicate, explore, play and enjoy the world around them. In response to the child’s needs, wants and preferences, we make environmental adaptations and create the supports a child needs to feel ready to learn.

Help is accessed through Circle Centre, our specialist nursery near Buckingham and our Outreach Service which supports families in the community and online through projects including The Parent’s Portal, Parent Support Groups, and Assessments and Support Packages.

Our support is…

  • Child-led: We look at everything through the child’s lens first, their well-being and happiness is always our priority. We focus on understanding and appreciating the child’s perspective, we do not work towards trying to change them. We accommodate each child’s needs to maximise function and use their skills and strengths to enable the child to thrive, learn and develop.

  • Needs-led: Regardless of diagnosis, we listen to the parent, we observe the child and we work with them to support the areas of need.

  • Focussed on a child’s strengths: We design our support around the child’s strength, interests and preferences to optimise engagement and enable the child to thrive.

  • Neuroaffirmative: We listen to and believe there is always more to learn from the neurodivergent population. We strive to adapt and tailor our support to reflect these perspectives.

Meet our Practitioners

Laura Gomersall

Laura Gomersall

Head of Children's Services, Specialist Speech and Language Therapist - BSc (Hons). Speech Pathology and Language Therapy, HCPC registered.

Laura joined Autism Early Support in 2019, as a Speech and Language Therapist focusing on Autism Early Support services.  She qualified in 2005 from Queen Margaret University College and has since worked in a variety of health and education settings with children up to the age of 18 years, both overseas and in the UK.

Laura has had experience working with children with a range of speech, language and communication needs.  She uses a neuroaffrimative approach to her practice and is passionate about supporting whole family well being.

From July 2021 Laura became the Head of Children’s Services for AES with responsibility for all our service provision.

Julie Smith

Specialist Occupational Therapist BSc (Hons) OT. HCPC registered.

Julie Smith

Julie is a Specialist Occupational Therapist here at Autism Early Support.  Julie graduated from Oxford Brookes University in 1996 and she has worked with children and young people since 1999 in a number of settings, before joining AES in 2014.

She is continually developing her specialist knowledge, learning from neurodivergent individuals and their lived experience, whilst keeping up to date with current neuroaffirmitive approaches.

Julie is skilled at looking at the “whole child” in the context of school and family life when carrying out assessment and providing support. As an OT she is passionate about understanding the child’s presentation and experiences in relation to their sensory differences, physical skills and emotional wellbeing. She explores the strengths and barriers and how these impact the child’s participation in play and social interaction, personal care and exploration & learning.

Her gentle and thorough approach puts children at ease and the knowledge she imparts to caregivers both at home and in schools is invaluable. Julie is driven to enable families to advocate for their children, supporting them to appreciate and accommodate strengths, differences and needs, in order to promote well-being for the child and family.

Liz Wilson

Liz Wilson

Specialist Speech and Language Therapist MSc. HCPC registered.

Liz has worked with autistic children and their families for over 10 years, starting as a support assistant within a specialist school for autistic children and volunteering with charities supporting children with complex needs. Liz then moved on to study Speech and Language Therapy. She qualified from University College London in 2018, and has since worked in a range of settings, including early years settings, mainstream schools and specialist schools.

Liz uses a neurodiversity affirming approach in practice, focusing on ensuring that the child and whole family have access to all the support that they need for their communication to thrive, in line with their individual strengths and differences.

Liz started working for Autism Early support in September 2021 and works full time in the outreach team.

Kim Mears

Specialist Speech and Language Therapist BSc (Hons). HCPC registered.

Kim Mears

Kim qualified as a speech and language therapist in Cardiff in 1997 and since then has worked in a range of settings with children and adults both in the UK and in New Zealand.

Kim uses a strengths based, neurodiverse affirming approach to enabling children and families to have their voices heard and decide on the communication support they want.  Advocating for, and supporting access to, AAC for nonspeaking and semi-speaking children is very important to Kim.

Kim works part time as part of the Autism Early Support outreach team and is also studying for her masters in Education.  Kim joined the charity in March 2023.

Urszula Coghlan

Urszula Coghlan

Specialist Speech and Language Therapist, PGDip , HCPC registered.

Urszula qualified in Speech & Language Therapy from City University in 1998, and has worked in a variety of settings, including community clinics, special schools and a rehabilitation unit for children with acquired brain injury. She has previously worked as a specialist Speech and Language Therapist for adults with learning disabilities.  Urszula originally trained as a Montessori Nursery teacher, and, prior to changing career to Speech & Language Therapy, worked for several years in a Montessori nursery and at a specialist Conductive Education Centre for children with cerebral palsy. She has been a member of the Team since the Spring Term of 2014

Alex Bostock

Paediatric Occupational Therapist, BSc (Hons) Occupational Therapy. HCPC registered,.

Alex Bostock

Alex has recently has qualified as an Occupational Therapist from the University of Northampton with a first class honours degree, and joined the Autism Early Support team in June 2021, bringing 18 years of experience of working with children. Prior to joining the charity, Alex has experience within a variety of settings including the PACE Centre with children with sensory motor disorders, at Booker Park Community school, a specialist school which focuses upon broad diversity of complex needs including Profound and Multiple, Severe and Moderate Learning Difficulties, as a learning support assistant within a mainstream primary setting, and as a nursery practitioner within a Montessori nursery.  Alex assists families and practitioners to meet the sensory and motor needs of the children who are supported by the charity, both in the nursery and as part of the Autism Early Support outreach team

Fiona Hebert

Fiona Hebert

Specialist Teacher, BSc (Hons), PGCE

Fiona has been a strong and passionate member of the Circle Centre team for the last 7 years.  She initially joined as a learning support assistant, but for the last 2 years, Fiona has worked as a Specialist teacher supporting both child and their families.  She has great experience in: implementing the EYFS alongside the SCERTS framework; planning the curriculum to support a child’s learning, play and communication; and applying to EHCP’s and undertaking EHCP reviews.

Rebecca Wilkes

Specialist Teacher, BA (Hons) Primary Ed. QTS

Rebecca Wilkes

Rebecca is a fully qualified primary school teacher, with over 10 years of experience of teaching (over 4 ½ years of this working with SEN children specifically).  Having previously taught in other specialist settings including an autism-specific school run by The National Autistic Society, her experience demonstrates  an ability to provide specialist teaching knowledge and practice to support young children with autism or social communication difficulties

 

Louise O'Connor-Boyd

Louise O'Connor-Boyd

Family Support Coordinator

Louise joined Autism Early Support as a Learning Support Assistant in 2015.  She has gained her knowledge of neurodivergence through working closely with the children themselves and their parents and carers.

Through gaining an insight into the whole family, Louise developed the Family Support Coordinator role here at AES.  Louise has run family support groups for 2 years in the community.  Her intention is to listen to families, make them feel heard and support them to reflect on things that work well and give advice and signposting.

She recognises that families can be time poor so she has a keen interest in researching and understanding the broader topics and picking out the key elements to make the information more accessible so that families feel empowered to advocate for their child’s needs.

Contact us

Please contact us using the enquiry form or on the details below.

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Autism Early Support

0300 102 4462 / 01296 733900
outreach@autismearlysupport.org.uk

Address:

Office A 15 Little Balmer (within Pace House)
Buckingham
MK18 1TF

Support us

Your support will help autistic children and children with sensory, communication and interaction differences to grow in confidence, develop independence in everyday activities, build trust in others and learn social interaction skills through play.

“Circle Centre was a great introduction to the girls’ education – helping them to find out how they like to learn, their likes and dislikes, all within a safe and friendly setting. Freya, who has a tendency to isolate herself was free to be herself without masking.” Millie & Freya’s Mum

From hosting a workplace coffee morning to running the MK Marathon, there are so many ways you can support our charity. Get involved!

To contact the Fundraising Team, please email fundraising@autismearlysupport.org.uk.