The 2015 Winners

Our 10 judges, leading experts in the field of autism have chosen the winners for the 2015 Autism Professionals Awards. Congratulations to all involved.


Awards for an Individual

Axcis Award for Achievement by an Individual Education Professional

Winner: Jacky Wyatt, Hillcrest Primary

Parents at the mainstream Hillcrest Primary, Bristol, describe having Jacky Wyatt as their child’s teacher as ‘a true blessing’.Despite teaching 30 Reception children full-time, Jacky’s attention to detail and bespoke approach to each child receives rave reviews.
And she’s acutely aware of the difficult journey families with a newly diagnosed child with autism  are undertaking. Parents praise her dedication and decisive, supportive action, appreciating her regular and respectful communication.

The judges said Jacky had clearly supported her young pupils through many aspects of education: assessing and meeting their needs, supporting sensory needs and developing social skills.  Her willingness to learn and to try out different approaches was admirable.


Most Inspirational Volunteer

Winner: Kate Laine-Toner, Bristol Autism Support

Kate Laine-Toner is the mother of achild on the autism spectrum. She founded Bristol Autism Support (BAS) in 2012 to create a strong, empowered autism community. BAS supports parents and carers through monthly meetings and other social events, their website and an active Facebook group. On 1 January, Kate launched BAS4Life, a scheme that will help children and young people with autism to develop social, life and employable skills. BAS supports over 400 parents and carers and their children in Bristol and the surrounding areas.

The judges commented that Kate is clearly a person of extraordinary energy and compassion.  There was clear evidence of the wide variety of ways that Kate has provided support and services to a very broad group of service users.  A volunteer who through sheer hard work has managed to improve the lives of many. She has created a network of people working together and worked hard to source funding.  A passionate mother, fundraiser and campaigner.


Lifetime Achievement Award

Winner: Jim Taylor, Independent Autism Consultant

Jim Taylor, formally Principal, Director of Education and lead in the development of New Struan School, now works as an independent autism consultant. An inspirational and internationally- regarded professional, Jim is relentless in his pursuit of excellence for people with autism. He has had a significant impact on colleagues and the families he has supported over the years and his new venture ‘Jim Taylor Knows Autism’ is what it says, with his irrepressible, highly-valued sense of humour and honesty.

Jim has over 30 years’ experience of working in the field of autism and has influenced many people in the UK and beyond.  His contribution to spreading and identifying best practice is considerable and his ability to inspire others to follow his philosophy means that his work will be sustained.  The judges said that his boundless enthusiasm, a profound knowledge of autism and an exceptional sense of humour characterised Jim’s contribution to the field.


Outstanding Achievement by an Individual on the Autism Spectrum

Joint Winner: Julia Malkin MBE, Excel Academy of Leicester

Excel began in 2006 as a mainstream driving school when Julia Malkin qualified as a driving instructor. Two years later, when Julia was aged 40, she was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome. After diagnosis she began to specialise in teaching others on the autism spectrum, developing systems and inventing techniques to help them learn. She gained a doctorate inJanuary 2015, and Excel’s services now include counselling, help for professionals and degree support for people who have Asperger syndrome.

The judges commented that Julia has clearly made a demonstrable impact in a very practical way enabling people with autism to negotiate our complex social world.  Julia demonstrated marvellous work.  She is a woman on the autistic spectrum who has experienced the highs and lows but has channelled her understanding in a positive direction to help other individuals with autism to learn to drive.  Admirable and inspiring.


Joint Winner: Robyn Steward, Trainer, Speaker and Autism Consultant

At only 28 years old, Robyn Steward has achieved incredible things in her life. At an early age she decided that: "I wanted to be like Pink Floyd… and go on tours and stuff." She is a compelling speaker, seasoned traveller, autism trainer and mentor. She is also an author, musician and artist. A champion for women with autism, Robyn uses her art to highlight issues faced by many women on the spectrum, including domestic violence, exploitation and rape.

Robyn is someone who should be recognised for her outstanding achievements. She is an extraordinary woman.  Her articulate and positive insights as a public speaker into living on the autism spectrum have been coupled with own artistic achievements as a painter and musician.  She very much deserves recognition for her hard work in raising awareness of autism in the general public.


Team Awards

Awards for Inspirational Education Provision – Primary School

Winner: Inclusion Team, Tollgate Primary School

Tollgate Primary is recognised as Outstanding and the provision for children with autism is exceptional. Its fully inclusive philosophy is unlike many other provisions for children with similar needs. In addition to excellent day-to-day practice for students with autism, the school  has pioneered the use of iPads: using them as educational learning tools. The school offers a multidisciplinary approach that is informed by principles of effective established practice to  pursue the very best outcomes for all pupils.

The judges said this was a great entry which stood out, comprehensive in the ways that they are innovative and creative.  There were a number of standout features such as the whole school approach, the range of environmental options, the autism curriculum, the family support and the knowledge sharing with other organisations.  They had a vision and the determination to continue to push boundaries.


Award for Inspirational Education Provision – Secondary and over 16

The National Autistic Society - Autisan Creative Enterprises

The Autisan Creative Enterprises is an innovative collaboration between the NAS Education Service at the Robert Ogden School and the NAS Adult Services in the North. Its long term aim is to provide genuine work experience for pupils at Robert Ogden School and meaningful employment for Adults on the Autism Spectrum through sustainable enterprise. With the benefits employment brings – such as a sense of worth and mental well-being.

The judges commented that the group catches the imagination. They have been truly innovative and amazingly enterprising in what has been developed over a short space of time.  A fresh approach to learning and development criterion, providing work experience and potential employment for young adults on the autism spectrum.





Award for Inspirational Education Provision – Other Education Provider

Suffolk County Council Outreach Service for ASD Pupils

The County Inclusive Resource (CIR) is a unique Suffolk County Council service dedicated to supporting mainstream schools with the inclusion of pupils with a diagnosis of autism. The CIR team work directly with pupils, modelling effective strategies, producing innovative, individualised resources to support learning and offering an extensive range of training for school staff. They work with passion and commitment, taking a collaborative, solution-focused approach to enhance the outcomes for pupils on their caseload, raising awareness of autism county wide.

The judges said the team offered many creative solutions to schools in relation to design and resources.  This team promoted individualised approaches, as well as increased autism awareness amongst county councillors and across joint health and education meetings, achieving a more holistic and joined up approach.  The sum total of their work adds up to a dynamic influence on the way autism needs are addressed across the county and could be used as a model for others.  They showed willingness to embrace new ways of working in order to increase provision for those on the autism spectrum.  An amazing resource with over 700 pupils helped.


Award for Innovative Family Support

Joint Winner: Cygnet Service, Barnardo’s

In partnership with parents and young people, the Barnardo’s Cygnet Service has provided parenting support programmes for parents/carers of “older children” on the autism spectrum in Bradford since 2005. A range of shared, personal and cultural issues are tackled in a supportive environment. Cygnet has a robust evidence base, having been evaluated by York University for the Department for Education. Since publication in 2009, over 120 organisations nationally and internationally now use Cygnet programmes to meet a recognised family need.

The judges said that Cygnet Service, Barnardo’s was an excellent entry.  They provide an excellent service that supports families in many different ways through all the educational stages.  They are constantly thinking of new techniques and approaches that can aid development.  It is a really valuable service and it is great to see personal sexual relationships training being delivered.

Joint Winner: Sunderland Autism Outreach Team

The Sunderland Autism Outreach Team provides an essential service to families whose children have a diagnosis of ASD. We provide intervention, support and training for children, parents and schools which contributes to the children reaching their full potential. Our training packages include the NAS EarlyBird, EarlyBird Plus, Healthy Minds and Speakeasy programmes alongside our own programmes called Jigsaw and Step up for families of older children. For the children we have intervention clubs and groups for many age groups.

The judges said that The Outreach Team had a considered and comprehensive approach that must provide enormous benefits to families in Sunderland.



Outstanding Adult Services

Winner: Community Health and Wellbeing Team, Wirral Autistic Society

The Community Health and Wellbeing Team at Wirral Autistic Society provides outstanding adult services which significantly improve the quality of life for people with autism. Service users can participate in a huge range of activities including rock climbing, canoeing, narrow boating, horse riding, cycling, camping and hiking. They can work towards Duke of Edinburgh or John Muir awards and join volunteer groups working on environmental projects. The impacts include increased health, fitness, self-esteem and confidence and decreased social isolation.

The judges commented this was an outstanding nomination.  A totally thriving and busy project with a committed team working in a valuable and important therapeutic area: physical exercise.  Supporting individuals to stay healthy and improve communication and collaborating with research is incredibly important.  This is a truly innovative project with a widespread impact.

Highly Commended: Social Enterprise Team, Autism Initiatives

Autism Initiatives’ Social Enterprise Team delivers seven unique businesses providing people on the autism spectrum with real work opportunities and experiences. The enterprises are innovative and include a golf course, art gallery, cycle shop, market garden and cafes. All enterprises demonstrate the best skills of people with autism and deliver services of the highest quality.






Award for Clinical Excellence

Winner: SEQOL, Adult Autism Diagnostic Service

The SEQOL Adult Autism Diagnostic Service takes a flexible and person-centred approach to post diagnostic support for adults diagnosed with autism spectrum conditions  in Swindon, Wiltshire and Oxfordshire. They work collaboratively with service users to determine the benefit of a diagnosis for them and explore together the information they may require going forward eg in their employment setting, higher education, social or healthcare needs and then write a tailored disclosure document, describing their ASC profile and suggested recommendations for support.

The judges commented that this was a comprehensive and innovative service which demonstrated success and national impact.  This social enterprise offers diagnostic and post-diagnostic training services across all adults in every setting.   A flexibility of approach is emphasised with excellent team support.


Award for Best New Technological Innovation

Circus Starr – Show and Tell

Show and Tell is an interactive visual story app for children with autism that can be tailored to suit the specific needs of a child in preparation for a trip to the circus. Photographs, show footage and text help familiarise children with unknown experiences that may otherwise cause anxiety. The app also provides a template that can be adapted to suit other arts and cultural experiences. It has been produced by Circus Starr in collaboration with Dr Tracy Piper-Wright, Therapy Box and The National Autistic Society.

This judges commented that this was a fantastic resource.  They could see the scope of what they have achieved and the huge effort to engage with children with autism.  The fact that they are now helping other organisations to create apps is brilliant. 


Award for Most Creative Community Project

Winner: Scottish Autism

Scottish Autism’s Conservation Project is based within Gartinny Nurseries, a vocational day service for individuals with autism. The project focuses on supporting individuals with autism to develop their understanding of, and involvement in community-based conservation work. Participantswork in partnership with the Scottish Wildlife Trust, Scottish Badgers, Countryside Rangers, local schools, volunteer groups and local authorities to grow and plant wildflowers, build otter holts, monitor red squirrels and source funding to build, erect and monitor nest boxes for barn owls, bats and kestrels.

The judges stated that this is an excellent scheme which provides a great response to their service users’ requests, using their interests in a way that benefits both social development and the environment. 




Autism Accreditation Excellence Award

Winner: Knowsley Disability Service

Knowsley Adult Disability Service supports 280 people with learning and physical disabilities and Autism across five locality bases.

Over recent years the service has undergone a massive transition, from traditional day centres to neighbourhood activity bases that are co-located within community and leisure facilities. With new opportunities and support to access local facilities, significant outcomes for people who use the Disability Service have been achieved.

The judges commented that this entry deserved special praise for integrating its services into the community. A great example of great practice.