Autism Spectrum Australia

Aspect Practice Specialists

Aspect Practice Specialists are members of the Aspect team who have made a significant contribution to the development and delivery of Aspect Practice services, workshops and resources. They have:

  • a minimum 5 years’ experience working with people on the autism spectrum;
  • individual specialised knowledge in autism that is supported by professional development & evidence/research;
  • demonstrated commitment to evidence informed practice (i.e. they are involved in research or evaluation of their own practice);
  • made a contribution to Aspect Practice through their contributions. 

Our Aspect Practice Specialists are:

Jane Cotter – Senior Education Consultant

Jane Cotter (BA Hons; Post Grad Cert Integration Studies (Spec Ed); Teachers Cert; Fine Art Cert). As Senior Education Consultant with Aspect’s Educational Outreach, Jane Cotter has been working at Aspect for 26 years. She facilitates and presents a diverse range of collaborative social and learning support services for mainstream school students (K-12), their families and school personnel. Jane is passionate about developing and implementing social programs for children and teens on the spectrum and about the very varied consultancy work that she feels privileged to provide in collaboration with parents/carers and with colleagues in government, Catholic and independent schools. Jane has presented over many years on a diverse range of topics at both national and international conferences at schools and agencies.

Caroline Mills – Occupational Therapist

Caroline graduated from Occupational Therapy at The University of Sydney in 2003. Caroline has worked as a Children’s Occupational Therapist in Australia, China, England and Wales in government and non-government organisations within health and education settings. In 2008, Caroline was selected by AusAID as an Australian Youth Ambassador for Development and relocated to China to work as the first Occupational Therapist in the Shenzhen Autism Society. Caroline has been a School Occupational Therapist at Aspect Vern Barnett School since October 2009. She has also worked as a Behaviour Support Specialist within Aspect’s Positive Behaviour Support Team. Caroline was the recipient of the 2013 Elizabeth Hoyles Fellowship.

Caroline holds a Master of Applied Linguistics from Macquarie University and is currently a PhD Candidate in Occupational Therapy at The University of Sydney. Caroline’s PhD research involves evaluating the effectiveness of sensory processing intervention in the classroom for students on the autism spectrum. Caroline has presented papers on research and practice issues in autism at numerous Australian and International Conferences. Caroline has a particular interest in working with children on the autism spectrum and co-occurring intellectual disabilities.

Christine Stylianakis – Education Outreach Consultant

Christine Stylianakis (Masters in Special Education). Christine has been involved in Special Education working within the mainstream environment, special education settings, adult education as well as assessment and training units for over 20 years. Christine has a Masters Degree in Special Education from Sydney University and currently works at Aspect South East Sydney School as a Literacy Consultant and as an Educational Outreach Consultant and as a Literacy Support Teacher. Over the years Christine has developed a number of assessment tools and programs for students with disabilities. She is a regular presenter and is passionate about working with teachers and parents to improve the learning outcomes of students on the autism spectrum across various settings. 

Rebecca McMillan – Education Outreach Consultant

Rebecca McMillan has a Bachelor of Education, Postgraduate Diploma in Special Education and a Masters in Special Education. Rebecca McMillan has a Masters in Special Education and has been employed with Aspect for over 12 years. She has worked as a classroom teacher in an autism specific school setting and in a support class in a mainstream setting. In 2007, Rebecca joined the Educational Outreach team. Rebecca's role with Educational Outreach is to support schools and families through consultation, student workshops, peer education and training. Rebecca has aided in the development of Aspect’s Movie Club workshop and she has also helped to develop the Primary School Social Skills program. Rebecca had a paper presented at Asian Pacific Autism Conference (APAC) 2014 and lectured for Canberra University for their Masters program. Rebecca is passionate about the inclusion of students on the autism spectrum.

Mark Durie – Principal at Aspect Central Coast School 

Mark Durie has over 20 years experience educating and supporting students on the autism spectrum and their families. Mark graduated from University of Newcastle attaining a Bachelor of Education (Soc Sc) and also completed a Master of Education. Both degrees allow Mark to educate students from K-12. Mark has held various positions including Special Education Teacher, Early Intervention Specialist and Outreach Consultant. In 2009, Mark was a team member of the Positive Partnerships program, delivering the parent cared content. More recently Mark has held the position of Deputy Principal of Aspect Hunter school and was promoted to the position of Principal at Aspect Central Coast School in January 2016.

Rhiannon Tolmie – Service Coordinator

Rhiannon Tolmie has a Bachelor of Speech Pathology. Rhiannon has worked with Aspect Therapy Service since 2009. She has been involved in delivering individual and group intervention programs for children on the autism spectrum and workshops for parents and early educators. Rhiannon's current role is a Service Coordinator within the Hunter Region, New South Wales. Rhiannon promotes family-centred practice and has co-ordinated a research project into the Early Intervention Readiness Program (EIRP), a family support service offered by Aspect. Rhiannon attended APAC 2013, to share the interim findings of this study.

Mary-Ann Bedwani - Service Coordinator 

Mary-Ann Naguib Bedwani has a Bachchelor of Applied Science (Speech Pathology). Mary-Ann is the Service Co-ordinator for Aspect Western Sydney School, through Aspect Therapy. Mary-Ann has been working for Aspect for over 12 years, and her background is in Speech Pathology. Mary-Ann has a passion for working with people on the autism spectrum and their families, and continuing to develop skills and knowledge in approaches that provide best outcomes. Mary-Ann is accredited in Language Acquisition through Motor Planning (LAMP); Hanen parent training programs and Key Word Sign (KWS) and trained in Picture Exchange Communication Systems (PECS) and other specialised programs.

Vicki Gibbs – Clinical Psychologist Aspect Assessments 

Vicki Gibbs is a Clinical Psychologist and Manager of Aspect Assessments. Vicky has a Bachelor of Psychology (Honours) and a Masters in Clinical Psychology. Vicki has presented at numerous national and international conferences, workshops, training seminars and has co-authored a number of published papers into autism assessment. She has a special interest in the forensice implications of autism and how indiviudals with autism can be best supported within the legal system. Vicki is passionate about improving diagnostic practices and facilitating early identification of autism. 

Susan Bruck – Research Officer 

Susan Bruck has a BSc (Hons), PhD. Susan has worked as the Aspect Practice Research Officer since 2013. She began her autism research career in 2005 with a project that examined the use of virtual reality technology as an autism screening tool. Since arriving at Aspect Practice, Susan has been involved in evidence-based autism research projects that have examined using technology in education, home educating children on the autism spectrum, early childhood, adolescent and adult support needs. Susan is a research collaborator on numerous Autism Cooperative Research Centre and Australian Research Council research projects. To read Susan’s publications click here

Andrea Garner 

Andrea Garner is a practitioner and researcher specialising in the education of people on the autism spectrum. Andrea has been working with young people on the spectrum for the last 15 years as a class teacher, ABA therapist and outdoor educator. Andrea ha continued to study while working and has completed a Master of Education in Autism and a PhD. Andrea's research interests include social-sexual development, inclusion into work environments, social cognitive development and family support. Andrea currently works directly with children, their families and with teachers developing programs and strategies to improve long-term outcomes for young people on the spectrum. Andrea is currently conducting research in the assessment and delivery of social skills programs, training models for parents of children on the spectrum and the effectiveness of online information sharing.

Ellen Winchester - Service Coordinator (Speech Pathologist) 

Ellen Winchester is a Speech Pathologist who has worked for Aspect for the last 7 years in various roles in Early Intervention in various settings (schools, home, preschools and group therapy programs) as well as being part of a Learning Support Team in Aspect Schools for children on the autism spectrum. Ellen has a particular interest in the areas of feeding difficulties in children on the spectrum and also Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC). In 2013, Ellen was awarded the Elizabeth Hoyle’s fellowship which gave her the opportunity to begin to conduct research into supporting teachers to implement high-tech AAC into the classroom, and increase the effective use of high-tech AAC (with a focus on the use of Core Vocabulary and the Language Acquisition Motor Planning approach) into the daily classroom routine of students who required it.

Ellen’s current focus is to support teachers at Aspect South Coast School to conduct accurate communication assessments for students with complex communication needs who use AAC, and using these assessments to directly inform intervention planning and classroom programming.

Craig Smith - Deputy Principal at Aspect Hunter School

Craig joined Aspect in 2008, he has worked as a classroom teacher, an educational outreach consultant and as a coordinator. He has presented keynote presentations on autism, technology and pedagogy at national and international conferences and has been featured on ABC Radio National as an autism education authority. Craig is an Apple Distinguished Educator and is completing his PhD in Special Education at The University of Newcastle. 

Genevieve Johnnson - Psychologist

Genevieve joined Aspect in 2008 and is a psychologist with the Aspect Therapy service. Genevieve has recently redeveloped the Aspect Therapy publications to create a How-to series for children on the autism spectrum, including toilet training (co-authored by Marina Bailey, Psychologist), transition to school and developing play skills. Genevieve has a strong interest in the development of early social communication and play skills of children on the autism spectrum.

Joanne Tisdell - School Coordinator at Aspect South East Sydney School

Joanne is the School Coordinator for Aspect South East Sydney School. Joanne is a special educator with 10 years experience in special education. During this time, Joanne has taught a wide age and ability range of students on the spectrum. Joanne supported the Secret Agent Research Project run across Aspect Satellite classes in 2011. Since this Joanne has implemented the program to many students and families and is responsible for leading the model classroom. She is professionally trained in the Secret Agent Society Program to deliver practitioner training. 

Kathie Lane - Education Outreach Consultant 

Kathie joined Aspect in 2010 and is an Aspect Practice Specialist with Education Outreach. Kathie is passionate about education for people with disabilities, which has been her focus for the past 20 years. Kathie has presented at Asia Ppacfic Autism Conference (APAC) on two occasions and at many other conferences focusing on education for children with autism. Kathie is the co-author of A Practical Guide for Teachers of Students with an Autism Spectrum Disorder in Secondary Education. 

Lynie Canillas - School Coordinator at Aspect Western Sydney School 

Lynie has worked for Aspect for 25 years and is a School Coordinator at Aspect Western Sydney School supervising satellite classes and working closely with the teachers. Lynie conducts Pivotal Response Treatment (PRT) courses for teachers and parents and facilitates the implementation of Aspect Practice across the school. Lynie has presented at Asia Pacific Autism Conference (APAC) in 2009 and has written the course on Orientation to Pivotal Response Training as approved for the Australian Institute of Teacher standards. 

Marina Bailey - Psychologist 

Marina is a psychologist who has worked in the disability sector for the past 27 years. Marina has worked at Aspect for the past 20 years and currently works on the Aspect Therapy team as a clinical supervisor and consultant. Marina has a strong interest in the area of Family Resilience and Wellbeing, Positive Behaviour Support (PBS) and person/family centred practice. Marina is also the resident Toilet Training consultant on Aspect Therapy team.  

Meghan Williams

Meghan is the Head of Campus for Aspect Northern Rivers. Meghan is a special educator with 20 years experience in special education. Meghan has worked in special schools, support classes and mainstream schools in Australia and the UK. Meghan is responsible for supporting the school and Educational Outreach Service in the Northern Rivers area, she is professionally trained in the TEACCH Autism Program and is currently one of three TEACCH® Certified Practitioners in Australia. Meghan was key personnel during the Aspect research on “An independent outcome study of a TEACCH intervention for children with autism.”

Jessica Degrassi - Senior Clinical Consultant Positive Behaviiour Support

Jessica is an Educational and Developmental Psychologist working within Aspect Therapy as the Senior Clinical Consultant for Positive Behaviour Support. Jessica has worked for over ten years in the field of disability, with particular interest in behaviour support, social emotional development and parent-carer support, learning and engagement. Jessica has supported children and adults with disability across home, preschool, school and community settings. She has also completed research into attachment and autism which was included in the Asia Pacific Autism Conference in 2013, as well as presenting at the Early Childhood Intervention Australia conference in 2015. 

Jo Merrick

Jo joined Aspect in 2004. As a classroom teacher she has explored the use of creative arts to facilitate social-communication and more recently, Zones of Regulation with groups of students (K-9). During her years as Visiting Teacher: Autism in the Broken Bay Diocese (an Aspect - Catholic Schools Office partnership), Jo researched best practice for teaching students with autism reading skills and supporting student transition (APAC 2014). She continues to work in the diocese and in other school settings in Education Outreach. Jo is passionate about supportive transitions, student wellbeing, and working with schools to develop capacity in regard to autism (APAC 2011). Jo has a Master in Special Education (Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties).

Heath Wild - School Coordinator at Aspect Hunter School

Heath has worked in Special Education for 10 years, the majority of that time spent working with Autism Spectrum Australia, where currently he holds the position of Coordinator at Aspect Hunter School. Having worked with students from preschool to high school ages, he has been able to gain an appreciation and understanding of the variety of needs that students on the autism spectrum have. Heath likes to create and facilitate learning experiences that are engaging and meaningful for students, always seeking to enhance student’s creative, collaborative, and communication skills.  Heath utilises the accessibility of technology to meet students in the place where they are best able to be engaged in their learning. 

Dr Tom Tutton - National Manager of Aspect Practice and Clinical Lead of Positive Behaviour Support (PBS) 

Dr Tutton trained as a Clinical Psychologist in England, specialising in supporting individuals on the autism spectrum and Positive Behaviour Support (PBS). Dr Tutton joined Aspect in 2006 and is the National Manager of Aspect Practice and Clinical Lead of Positive Behaviour Support (PBS). Tom also supports all Aspect staff to maintain good PBS practice as part of their service delivery, developing policy and practice, writing, training and constantly linking the research with Aspect’s evidence based practice. Tom has spoken about this work presenting workshops to parents and professionals across Australia and at numerous conferences including the Asia Pacific Autism Conference (APAC) in 2009 and 2011, Psychologists in Developmental Disability (PsychDD), Australasian Society for Intellectual Disability, NSW BIS forums and others. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aspect Practice Specialists