The judging panel consist of leading experts in the field of autism from a variety of professional backgrounds across the UK.


Jon Adams
Artist, autism advocate and speaker
photo by James Allen


Carole Buckley
GP and Clinical Champion for Autism The Royal College of General Practitioners


Gary Cooper
Chief Executive of Middletown Centre for Autism

Dr James Cusack
Director of Science, Autistica

Adam Feinstein

Adam Feinstein
Writer, Autism Researcher, Poet, Translator, Editor of Looking Up, the International Autism Magazine

Yolanta Lasota
Chief Executive Ambitious about Autism

Cos Michael
Autism and ageing consultant and autistic speaker

Dr Catriona Stewart
Autism Consultant and Researcher

Clive Stobbs OBE
Chief Executive Autism Anglia

Rona Tutt OBE

Dr Rona Tutt OBE
Independent Consultant





Adam Feinstein is a writer, autism researcher, poet, translator and Hispanist.  He is the editor of the international autism magazine, Looking Up (  He was also editor of the autism-related website, Awares - run by Autism Cymru, Wales’s pioneering national charity for autism - and organised the annual Awares international online autism conference, the largest of its kind anywhere (with more than sixty top experts and thousands of delegates online).  Speakers included Dr Lorna Wing, Professor Uta Frith, Professor Rita Jordan and Professor Gary Mesibov.

Wiley-Blackwell published Feinstein’s book, A History of Autism: Conversations with the Pioneers, in the UK and the USA in 2010 to worldwide acclaim. It has since been translated into several languages. (Professor Simon Baron-Cohen , director of Cambridge University’s Autism Research Centre, described it as ‘a treasure trove … and a terrific book’). He is currently writing a book on autism and employment.  He has a 23-year-old son, Johnny, with autism.

Feinstein’s biography of the Nobel Prize-winning Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda: A Passion for Life, first published by Bloomsbury in 2004 and reissued in an updated edition in 2013, was also widely praised (Harold Pinter called it ‘a masterpiece’).

He has given numerous lectures on autism and Neruda around the world, including the United States, Mexico, Argentina, Russia, Spain, Italy, Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands. He broadcasts regularly for the BBC and writes for the Observer, the Financial Times and the Times Literary Supplement. His poems and translations have appeared in many publications.

Dr Rona Tutt, OBE, is a Past President of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT). She has taught pupils of all ages in state and independent, day and residential, mainstream and special schools. She has an MA in Linguistics and a PhD in the education of children with autism. A former head teacher of an outstanding special school, in the 1990s she was asked by the local authority to establish the first provision in the area for children on the autism spectrum. Rona is a winner of the Leadership in Teaching Award, and has received an OBE for her services to special needs education. Last year she received an Outstanding Reviewer Award for her work on the International Journal of Educational Management. 

Rona has been on the Expert Reference Group of the Autism Education Trust (AET) since its inception. She was on the Expert Group for the Salt Review (2009-10) and the Steering Board for the Complex Learning Difficulties and Disabilities (CLDD) Research Project (2009-11). In 2011, she was one of the module managers for the complex needs online training materials. In the same year, she joined with Professor Barry Carpenter and Professor Francesca Happe to establish the National Forum for Neuroscience in Special Education, whose patron is Ute Frith. She represents the NAHT on the Special Education Consortium (SEC) and the National SEND Forum (NSENDF).

Rona is vice chair of governors at a school for profoundly deaf pupils and vice chair at a secondary school for students with autism, moderate learning difficulties (MLD) and speech, language and communication needs (SLCN). She has written or co-authored several books on education and is much in demand as an education consultant, speaker, writer, reviewer and judge. 

Dr Catriona Stewart co-founded Scottish Women's Autism Network, SWAN, in 2012 after a doctoral research study focussed on girls with Asperger's syndrome and anxiety. Catriona was consultant academic advisor to the development of Scottish Autism's Right Click online programme for women and girls, launched earlier this year and is now working full-time as an Autism Advisor with the charity. She is an advisor to the National Autism Project and one of their Expert panel. In 2015 she presented to CEDAW of the UN Women, Geneva. SWAN has organised three Learning Event seminars in partnership with Autism Network Scotland at Strathclyde University in 2015-16 and was shortlisted this year for a National Diversity Award.

James joined Autistica from the University of Aberdeen with 15 years of experience working in autism across clinical, educational, social care, policy and research. He undertook a PhD at the University of Aberdeen studying how autistic people detect the actions of others. In his post-doctoral research he developed an automated measure of facial imitation for psychiatric conditions.
James was a co-investigator on the Autism Education Trust’s project on “Outcomes for People on the Autism Spectrum”.  He was also part of a core stakeholder group which successfully campaigned for Scotland’s first ever autism strategy.  Prior to this role, James was a member of Autistica’s own Science Review Panel.
James joined Autistica because he is passionate about community-driven research which can lead to longer, happier, healthier lives for autistic people.  Since joining, Autistica have a published a report “Personal tragedies, Pubic Crisis”, which called for research to reverse the unacceptable levels of early death seen in autism, and led on a cross-charity partnership which ascertained the top ten questions for autism research according to autistic people, parents and professionals. 

Gary Cooper has been Chief Executive of Middletown Centre for Autism since April 2007. The Centre was established in 2007 and is funded by the two Departments of Education in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Prior to his appointment Gary worked as Principal of a School which had a number of specialist units catering for children who had a confirmed diagnosis of autism. The school also has developed an outreach support service for children with speech, language and communication difficulties. Gary has also served on a number of Special School Management Boards.

Jon Adams works cross-platform in image, word, sound, performance and Public art, weaving in fragments of autobiography, science and hidden metaphor. The result is a unique visual perspective of recording and systemizing history, time and place. He has worked with London 2012, Imperial War Museum, Professor Simon Baron Cohen and Sir Peter Brook. He actively feeds into Arts policy and debate around the abilities of artists, diversity and digital inclusivity and is campaigning for parity in the arts for neurodivergent artists through the Flow Observatorium project.

Aged 50, after careers in theatre, television production and project management, Cos was diagnosed with autism. A year later she was working for the NAS, where she managed the Autism in Maturity and Autism and Ageing Projects. The latter produced a range of resources, including a report, handbook for support professionals and a guide for clinicians. Short films featuring ageing adults with autism and filmed interviews with academics and clinicians were made for NAS training. The Passport to Individual Autism Support informs professionals about the needs of the bearer.

Cos is now a freelance consultant, writer and trainer; and an autistic speaker. She is a project consultant for the Autism Spectrum, Adulthood and Ageing Project research team, based at Newcastle University; and member of the Science Advisory Group at Autistica. In collaboration with Carol Povey, Cos has recently contributed to a book, “The Challenge and Promise of Autism and Aging” and writes a blog on her website, Autism Age.

Jolanta has been Chief Executive of Ambitious about Autism since 2009. Previously she was the founding Chief Executive of Turn2us, a new charity that helps people in financial need access the money they are entitled to. She was also the Head of the Governance Hub, the national body charged with supporting the development of third sector governance. She also worked as a Director of I CAN, the charity that helps children and young people with speech, language and communication difficulties.  Jolanta is the Chair of the Autism Education Trust and the Chair of SEND Consortium which runs the service SENDirect. She has a passion for enabling children, young people and families affected by disability to live the life they choose.

Clive Stobbs OBE worked for 37 years in the City of London in the financial money markets, as the Chief Foreign Exchange Dealer of a Japanese bank and later in senior positions with four international money broking companies.

He has been involved with Autism Anglia (which was called The Essex Autistic Society until 2008) since 1983. His retirement from the City in 2002 coincided with a problem arising in the society’s school and he was employed for a year as General Manager running the educational services. In 2003, after the school had come out of ‘Special Measures’, he replaced the charity’s retiring Chief Executive.

Clive is Chair of Essex Police’s Colchester & Tendring Independent Advisory Group which acts as a link between the police and local voluntary organisations and is an active member of the Essex Strategic IAG.
He is a Trustee/Director of the Autism Alliance UK which is a network of eighteen specialist autism charities from across the UK.

Clive was honoured to be invited by the Dept of Health to join the Autism External Reference Group to advise the Dept and the Secretary of State for Health through the consultation and production stages of ‘Fulfilling and Rewarding lives’ the National Adult Autism Strategy for England . He chaired the group that looked at training.

Clive and Autism Anglia were very proud when he was awarded an OBE in the 2014 Queen’s Birthday honours list for ‘Services to people with autism’.

A GP since 1986 and currently in partnership in Bristol, Carole has been the GP member on the NICE guideline development groups for Autism in adults and the management of autism in children and young people along with the recently released guideline on Learning Disability and challenging behaviour. The Royal College of General Practitioners made autism a clinical priority from April 2014 to March 2017 and Carole was appointed to the role of clinical champion. She is on the Research Autism scientific and advisory committee and the RCGP Intellectual Disability Professional Network.

She has a son on the Autistic spectrum giving a more personal and unique insight into the challenges posed by ASD.