In March 2014, we asked our members, colleagues and contacts across Scotland to nominate their Autism Champions – individuals and organisations who have provided excellent support towards an individual, or individuals, on the autistic spectrum. We have been inundated and overwhelmed by your responses, and we would very much like to share some of the stories and information that we have received in the last few weeks. You can find links to information about many of our nominees, beginning with our Autism Champions themselves.

Thanks you very much to all of our nominees who have kindly agreed to share their stories and to all who nominated for getting in touch.

Kabie Brook – Our Autism Champion

Kabie Brook is chairperson and one of the co-founders of ARGH – Autism Rights Group Highland. We asked Kabie to tell us more about herself and her work.

I live in Inverness and am the mother of four children. As well as having an Autistic family and being Autistic myself, I also have a long history of working with, for and alongside Autistic people; 25 years paid and unpaid with all kinds of people of all ages. For the last few years it is ARGH that has taken up most of my time. ARGH is an Autistic people’s organisation, run by and for Autistic people.

You can find out more about Kabie’s work for ARGH by clicking here.

Hillpark Autism Unit Senior Buddies – Our Autism Partnership Champions

Hillpark Autism Unit is an integrated unit in Hillpark Secondary School in Glasgow, where young people on the autism spectrum are supported to access mainstream education and fully integrated in the school.

Hillpark Autism Unit also provides an outreach service, not just to mainstream pupils on the autism spectrum within Hillpark, but supports teachers in other Glasgow schools to work more effectively with young people on the autism spectrum.

We asked the school to tell us about the support the Buddies provide and heard from some of the pupils involved – read what they told us here…

Find out more about a selection of our nominees here…

Glinys Kitt – West Dunbartonshire

Glinys Kitt works within the Network Support, Language and Communications Team in West Dunbartonshire.  She was nominated as an Autism Champion by one of her colleagues.  Glinys says she has to think of new and innovative ways of working when she is finding solutions to problems.

John Knox – Scottish Autism

John Knox is an autism practitioner with Scottish Autism.  He has run a music group in the Lothian service for 10 years and is also the placement supervisor for Music Therapy students from Queen Margaret University.  John uses the creative arts, in particular music as a means of communication.  John as nominated as an Autism Champion by one of his colleagues at Scottish Autism.

Susan Bird – Diversity Champion at the University of Edinburgh Careers Service

Susan Bird was the Diversity Champion at the University of Edinburgh Careers Service and the Service representative on the Student Disability Committee and Mental Health Sub-group.  She was nominated as an Autism Champion by someone she worked in partnership with to support a young graduate who was still unsure of his career direction.

Catriona McRoberts – REACH Autism

Catriona McRoberts is voluntary CEO for REACH South Lanarkshire Autism. The charity was established in March 2012 to bridge the gap of inequalities in services and support for children and young people post diagnosed or awaiting referral for diagnosis of an Autism Spectrum Disorder. Catriona was nominated as an Autism Champion by one of the many service users of REACH Autism.

Indie Flynn – Square Peg

Indie Flynn currently works as a Personal Assistant for young people with autism and provide animation and art workshops through her small company, Square Peg.  Square Peg is a small autism friendly organisation offering support and creative outlets for young people ages 3-21 with autism. Indie was nominated as an Autism Champion by the parent of one of the young people she assists.

June Hepburn – Police Scotland

June Hepburn is a full-time civilian office manager working for Police Scotland. She was nominated as an Autism Champion by a former colleague in recognition of her efforts.

Farrah McKenzie

Farrah McKenzie is the mother of three children; three-and-a-half-year old twins and her 6-year old son, who has had an autism diagnosis since he was three. She was nominated as an Autism Champion by a friend who is also a mother of an autistic child.

Alison Briers – Autism Resource Centre

Alison Briers is Training Co-ordinator at the Autism Resource Centre (ARC) in Glasgow. She is responsible for developing and delivering autism training to Professionals, Parent/Carers and individuals with autism who want to find out about their condition. Alison was nominated by her friend Ruth as an Autism Champion.

Shuna Mercer

Shuna Mercer runs her own business as a play therapist and specialises on working with children on the autistic spectrum. Shuna tells us how she became interested in play therapy.

Richard Carranza – Autism Initiatives

Richard Carranza is a Senior Support Worker with Autism Initiatives. He has been setting up a vegetable garden which provides an opportunity for individuals to learn new skills and develop new interests.

Malcolm Hamilton

Malcolm Hamilton is an NHS dentist in the Highland area.

Vivienne Schackermann

Vivien Schackermann volunteers in a number of roles with Autism Initiatives.  She has also developed an interest in fundraising and has taken part in organising various events.

Gregor Scott – Grow To Work

Gregor Scott set up Grow to Work in 2012 to provide land-based employment and training opportunities for school leaver with autism and learning disabilities.  Grow to Work is based in the central Scottish Borders, and occupy six acres of farmland at Thornylee. Gregor was nominated as an Autism Champion by one of his colleagues.

Juliana Wilson

Juliana Wilson is a primary school teacher who was nominated as an Autism Champion by the mother of one of her pupils.

Vicki Shaver

Vicki Shaver is a retired lecturer in Children’s Ministry.  She has a particular interest in autism which began whilst supporting one of her students.