Work in the UK 1979 to 2003

I began my career working in the classroom as a teacher, working for many years at Melland Special School in Manchester, with Judith Coupe O Kane. During this time I was mentored and supported by Prof. Juliet Goldbart to develop practical and research skills. This process led to a number of collaborations and publications and ultimately to the successful completion of my Ph.D. I became known in UK for my contribution to the development of the Affective Communication Assessment [ACA] as described in ‘Communication Before Speech’ [1998]; and people became very interested in my work with the use of micro switches as described in ‘In Control’ [1994]. I was regularly asked to present these seminars and day lectures to a number of courses at universities across the UK.

Latterly however, my 'Theory to Practice’ Seminars, became very popular for training days at special schools, as well as adult residential and day centres. The presentations highlighted the use of ‘Interactive Approaches’ to assist people with both Profound Intellectual and Multiple Disabilities [PIMD] and Profound Intellectual Disabilities and Autistic Spectrum Disorders [PIMD/ASD] to learn. It was while I was working at Melland School with children with high support needs and profound learning disabilities that I completed my Ph.D. The thesis focuses on the area of early cognition and unintentional communication in the context of profound intellectual disability, which led to a number of other publications.

Through my research, I developed a rationale for the delivery of teaching and therapy, based on a cognitive approach to learning and the development of understanding about communication. This approach does not depend on models of typical infant development, or how we acquire knowledge, but concerns itself with how we use it. The focus of my work continues to be with pre-, or un- intentional communicators, and those clients who are demonstrating emerging intentionality.

In addition to working as a teacher for 20 years, I worked for 3 years for the University of Manchester’s Department of Educational Support and Inclusion. Here I was involved in the preparation and presentation of a number of courses and wrote several distance learning modules relating to Profound Intellectual and Multiple Disability. I contributed to a number of post graduate courses at Manchester Metropolitan University and to distance learning units and study schools for Birmingham University School of Education. I was delighted to be invited to be involved both as a Critical Friend and Consultant in the development of the Q.C.A.’s document ‘Planning, teaching and assessing the curriculum for pupils with learning difficulties’ for the UK Department for Education and Employment (now Department for Children, Schools and Families).

In 2002, I was requested to visit Argentina as a Special Envoy of the British Council to provide training and advice to NGOs providing services for children and adults with significant intellectual disabilities and to deliver a programme of training to Special Educators at Universidad Nacional de La Plata and Buenos Aires University’s Faculty of Psychology.

In 2003 I migrated to Australia.

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