Autism Early Support

The Circle Centre - our specialist nursery
Autism Early Support for families
20th Anniversary

Who we are

Our Nursery remains open and is abiding by COVID safe regulations.  View our most recent nursery risk assessment(s) here.


We are specialists in early intervention for children with autism or communication difficulties, working with families and practitioners across the UK to offer structured assessments, practical support and advice, training and consultancy in response to your and your child’s needs.

We are a charity formerly known as the well-established Puzzle Centre.  We believe that every child with autism or other communication difficulties should have access to prompt, appropriate and high quality education, therapy and support.

Our mission is to provide high quality education and therapy for young children with autism or other communication difficulties; to ensure that families receive expert advice and support; and to lead the development of best practice early intervention.

We do this through our bespoke assessment and support services, tailored to your particular needs and delivered by our team of Specialist Teachers, Speech and Language Therapists, Occupational Therapists and Learning Support Assistants. We can provide support for children aged 2 – 12 years.

Our expertise was founded in our specialist nursery, which has pioneered early intervention with pre-school children since 2001 and is recognised as an exemplar of good practice, receiving successive “Outstanding” ratings from Ofsted as well as commendations from people using our services. Our Autism Early Support outreach services provide this same expertise in your own setting for children aged 2 – 12 years, offering personalised support, consultancy and training for families, teachers and other practitioners in education and health.

Find out about the support we can provide to families

Find out about the support we can provide to nurseries, schools and practitioners

What we do

We deliver and promote early intervention for young children with autism or communication difficulties (aged 2-11 years). We do this through tailored programmes of assessment, support and advice, consultancy and training.

We have well-established expertise in Speech and Language Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Specialist Teaching and Learning Support. Our multidisciplinary team can provide an integrated programme of support around your child, your professional or organisational needs, as well as offering discrete assessments, therapies and training. (Please note, we do not provide a diagnostic service.)

We work with families, nurseries, schools, educational and health practitioners. By working in partnership with you to understand your needs and objectives, each programme can be tailored to your specific child and context.

  • Our Speech and Language Therapists provide help with the development of communication and interaction.

  • Our Occupational Therapists help to address physical and sensory differences that impact on daily life.

  • Our Specialist Teachers help you to understand your child’s development and early educational approaches.

  • Our Learning Support Assistants can work directly with your child, as part of a programme supervised by a Lead Teacher or Therapist.

Early intervention encompasses a range of specific, structured and targeted approaches to support and enhance development in young children. The types of intervention and tools that we use are founded on established research and evidence-based practice, as well as our own extensive experience.

Educational model

We have adopted the SCERTS® framework for working with children with autism and related difficulties, and their families. This is a multidisciplinary framework that offers an integrated approach to the child and his/her development. It provides specific guidelines for helping a child become a competent and confident social communicator, while supporting emotional regulation.  Dysregulation can often interfere with learning and the development of relationships. The framework is also designed to help families, educators and therapists work cooperatively as a team, in a coordinated manner, to maximize progress in supporting a child.


When supporting a specific child, we deploy a range of interventions and therapies within the framework of the SCERTS model, to support a child’s needs. This support will be led by one or more members of our specialist team.


Professional support

We have used the SCERTS model for over 10 years and this influences our practice. We are able to offer consultancy and training regarding our practice model using the SCERTS framework.

We also provide a wealth of training to nurseries, schools and practitioners on early intervention techniques.  We can tailor any training to suit the needs of a setting, and are happy to discuss your requirements with you.   In addition, we provide consultancy on a range of interventions through bespoke agreement.

Please contact us us to discuss how we can help you.

Meet the team

Laura Gomersall

Laura Gomersall

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

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

Ella Millerchip

Specialist Teacher - B.Ed (Hons) PGCE N.N.E.B.

Ella Millerchip

Ella has over 20 years’ experience working in Early Years settings, including as a teacher in mainstream settings.

Ella joined Autism Early Support in 2009 and has extensive experience of implementing the SCERTS framework alongside the Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum.

She has a Post Graduate Certificate in Education for Special Education Needs and has also undertaken Sleep Practitioner Training with The Children’s Sleep Charity.  Ella works  as part of the Autism Early Support outreach team.

Julie Smith

Julie Smith

Paediatric Occupational Therapist - BSc(Hons) OT, RCOT

Julie joined Autism Early Support in 2014, bringing 13 years of experience of working with children. Prior to joining the charity, Julie worked at the PACE Centre with children with sensory motor disorders.  Julie 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.

Liz Douglas

Specialist Speech and Language Therapist MSc, RCSLT

Liz Douglas

Liz qualified in Speech and Language Therapy from University College London in 2018. She has previously worked in community teams in the NHS with children with a range of speech and language difficulties and within specialist settings for children with Autism.  Prior to being a Speech and Language Therapist Liz worked as a support assistant within a specialist school for children with Autism and volunteered for a charities supporting children with complex needs on short breaks. Liz works as part of the Autism Early Support outreach team and joined the team in 2021.

Urszula Coghlan

Urszula Coghlan

Specialist Speech and Language Therapist M.A. (Hons), PGDip RCSLT

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, assessing and supporting clients with communication and dysphagia, and providing training to carers. She has completed the 2 day Picture Exchange Communication course, and the 2 day SCERTS training workshop. She is  accreditated as a PACT practitioner. She has also been trained in Intensive Interaction, and has undergone training in the principles of the Hanen programme. 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.

Fiona Hebert

Specialist Teacher, BSc (Hons), PGCE

Fiona Hebert

Fiona spent two years as a teacher in a mainstream setting, and the last four years she has been a strong and passionate member of the Circle Centre team at our specialist nursery. Fiona has great experience implementing the SCERTS framework and a real passion in early intervention and how it can support a child’s learning, play and communication.

Rebecca Wilkes

Rebecca Wilkes

Specialist Teacher

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


Diana Hilton-Jones

Specialist Speech and Language Therapist - LCST Dip. Speech and Language Pathology

Diana Hilton-Jones

After qualifying in 1979, Diana initially specialised in working with children with specific speech and language disorders and has worked in a variety of settings – clinics, special schools, mainstream schools and language units – with a range of paediatric client groups, many of whom have had social communication difficulties.

Diana has worked at Autism Early Support from 2005, in both the nursery and as part of the Autism Early Support team.

Alex Bostock

Alex Bostock

Paediatric Occupational Therapist, BSc(Hons) Occupational Therapy, RCOT

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 worked 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

Contact us

Please contact us using the enquiry form on this page. Alternatively, you can get in touch with us using the details below.

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Autism Early Support

07422 574160 / 01296 733900


Pace Business Centre

Office A, 15 Little Balmer


MK18 1TF

Support us

Autism Early Support is a charity which can only exist through the generosity of our supporters and volunteers.

As an individual, a company, a community group, a charitable trust, or as another funding or fundraising body – you can make a real difference to the development and life chances of children with autism or communication difficulties, to their families, and to the professionals that work with them. To find out more about our fundraising needs visit Support us at Autism Early Support

If you would like to find out more about how you can help, please contact us.

If you would like to make a donation, you can donate online by clicking the button below.

Thank you for your support and for the wonderful difference you can make.