MA Autism (SHU)
PGC Asperger’s Syndrome (SHU)
Certificated (with Merit) Counselling (Leics)
Diploma in Management Studies (DMU),
Level 3 AET (City & Guilds); ADOS-2 Trained; MBACP
This is me pictured with my son on my graduation from Sheffield Hallam University, November 2010, where I attained a PGC in Asperger’s Syndrome. In July 2012, and at the same University, I attained a Master of Arts (MA) in Autism. I am also a Certificated (with Merit) Counsellor from Leicester University (2005). I am a regular attendee of various CPD certified courses – in 2015/2016 through The Institute of Mental Health, Nottingham. I have also spent two years (2005-2007) studying on a MSc Child and Adolescent Psychodynamic Counselling course with Birkbeck, London University, but decided not to continue studying this particular counselling methodology after my only son was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome (AS), at which point I decided, based on what I had learnt, that this type of mind therapy (psychodynamic) was incongruous for persons on the autistic spectrum. I have approximately two thousand hours of AS and non-AS counselling under my belt and am a National Autistic Society approved counsellor. I am also ADOS-2 trained through Pearson Assessment under the tutelage of Dr. Fiona Scott (September 2014).
I am constantly seeking ways to raise autism awareness/understanding, and learn of techniques/methodologies to reach out to more and more autistic people. As a consequence, in 2013/2014 I undertook an Award in Education and Training Level 3 (enabling me to competently teach the subject of autism in the 16+ sector) and have passed Level One Certificate (modules 1, 2 & 3) in British Sign Language so that I may help deaf autists. I am a philanthropist and really care about autistic people, their loved ones, and creating greater autism awareness for all.
In my pre-counselling working life, I worked for many years as a Medical Manager in Doctors surgeries. I was also a freelance Writer for magazines such as GP, Pulse, and Practice Manager on practice management related subjects (note: I now write for various magazines on autism-related subjects). From my own experience, I can say that in my lifetime I have encountered quite a large number of ‘Aspergery’ thinking Doctors; indeed, from a ‘cleverness’ point of view, an AS person’s knowledge base is usually vast and immense, verging on genius level! All I can say is this: If I should need major medical investigations in the future, I hope my main clinical contact will be a man or woman with an Asperger’s frame of mind…that way, I will be reassurred that all relevant clinical data will be scrutinised and (sorry my AS readers for using this metaphor) ‘no stone will be left unturned.’ My management qualifications are: Diploma in Management (DMS) from Leicester De Montfort University (1995) and BTEC Ordinary National Certificate (ONC) in Business and Finance (1987). I am a Member of the UK Register of Expert Witnesses.
Setting aside the ‘science’ of the above, I believe my best qualification is that of ‘life’ ~ of my living with Asperger’s Syndrome in my family. I would also add, that amongst the cognoscenti of AS experts out there, feedback from clients leads me to believe that it is my familial understanding of the AS condition which bolsters them, thereby providing genuine empathetic emotional support. I do not close my ‘autistic’ office door each day and go home to a ‘neurotypical’ life; my personal life is a 24/7 AS experience, which a lot of clients have remarked they find reassuring knowing that I am in a similar place emotionally to them. Indeed, there are times when I can say that I have lived amongst this ‘different’ mind-set for so long that I have become what I call ‘Aspergerised‘, and this, of course, has enabled me to understand rather well the difficulties experienced by AS people living in the mainly neurotypical world. On the other hand, I am in reality a neurotypical person (NT), and can also empathise with other NTs who experience life with AS persons as taxing.
Our work is pro-bono and donation-lead. While Action for Asperger’s ‘ticks along’ with the donations income, ultimately it would be helpful to receive grants and other funding streams; we just have to come away from the ‘coal face’ of counselling for a while to address bureaucratic issues…which is difficult to do when demand for the service is high. Our main concern, first and foremost, will always be in helping individuals to achieve a happier state of being. Consequently, fundraising takes second place as our time is devoted to supporting those in need. Our way of working is eclectic and client-friendly and is a bespoke model that is more akin to CBT than any other therapy; my Master’s subject was ‘a bespoke model of counselling for lives which have become adversely affected by the experience of Asperger’s Syndrome’.
Elaine (centre) pictured with ‘Stavros Flatley’ who were helping to raise funds for Action for Asperger’s in June, 2011.
Simon Baron-Cohen, a world renowned academic in the field of autism and who is Professor of Developmental Psychopathology at the University of Cambridge and Fellow at Trinity College, Cambridge (he is Director of the Autism Research Centre (ARC) in Cambridge) said of Action for Asperger’s in 2008 that it is a ‘valuable new resource’.
Professor Tony Attwood (author of The Complete Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome, JKP, 2007) has this to say about Action for Asperger’s: ‘I think the idea of a counselling service for those affected by Asperger’s syndrome is an excellent idea. We desperately need experienced counsellors in this area and your webpage and service is addressing a need that is becoming increasingly recognized by both professionals and families affected by Asperger’s syndrome’.
I hope I have apprised you sufficiently about me, my credentials, and my charity’s intentions. I am passionate about the plight of families and friendships that are under strain as a consequence of Asperger’s Syndrome being a feature in their day-to-day lives. Action for Asperger’s cannot ‘cure’, but can assuage, offer comfort, support, hope and belief, where and when it is needed.
BACP Healthcare magazine, October 2016. What works when counselling autistic lives?
Term Times magazine, November 2013:
Term Times, October 2013
Other Patrons and Trustees include:
Mr. Gary Numan
Dame Vivienne Westwood, DBE, RDI
Dr. Barbara Jacobs
Mr. Scott James
Mrs. Jo Minns
Mr. James Read
Mr. Anthony Mathieson
Miss Sonia Owen
Mrs. Agnes Fairhead