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Dr Anna Kennedy OBE’s guest this week on Women’s Radio Station are Louise and Rebecca who are the co-founders of Autism Unravelled, an independent organisation offering autism assessment, therapy and training. Autism Unravelled was born out of the passion to give people with autism spectrum condition and other neurodivergent presentations a voice and harness their strengths in order to maximise their potential.
Autism Unravelled focuses on valuing difference and recognising strengths; with a vision to increase the acceptance and inclusion of people with neurodivergent conditions within education and the workplace.
Autism Unravelled promotes equality, inclusion and ensure reasonable adjustments are made to break down barriers for people with neurodiverse presentations.
Louise has a background in marketing and communications and is a qualified speech and language therapist. She has worked within the NHS across London for the last 17 years, specialising in working with people with autism and complex needs.
Louise is passionate about enabling people to reach their maximum potential and her enthusiasm and motivation to support young people and adults to expand their possibilities led her to develop Autism Unravelled, a holistic and client-centred service.
Dr Rebecca Varrall
Rebecca is a chartered clinical psychologist who has been working in the NHS with children, families and adults for the last 12 years. She has a specialist interest in working clinically with people with autism, learning disabilities and ADHD, and has been involved in several research projects in these fields.
Rebecca is keen to support those with neurodiverse presentations and associated mental health needs. Rebecca is a guest lecturer and examiner on the MSc Child Mental Health programme at University College London. She is a member of the British Psychological Society, Division of Clinical Psychology and the DCP Faculty for Children, Young People, and their Families, and is registered with the Health and Care Professions Council.
Louise and Rebecca were delighted to be interviewed by Dr Anna Kennedy OBE for her All Things Autism radio show on Women’s Radio Station.
Who are we
We are both clinicians by background; Rebecca is a clinical psychologist and Louise is a speech and language therapist. We met while working in a specialist ASD and Learning Disability school in East London as part of a multidisciplinary team. We liked each other’s working style and became friends.
We were both working within the NHS until recently when we became disillusioned by what we were able to offer families post-diagnosis. It was not an easy decision to leave the NHS and our amazing teams, however we wanted to follow our passion and support families in a more holistic way. We were also looking for a flexible way of working to support our own families and our own well-being.
As female founders, we are passionate about helping women grow their businesses and believe in the power of women being mutually supportive.
What does Autism Unravelled believe in and what do we offer
Autism Unravelled takes a strengths-based approach and we believe in valuing difference and recognising strengths. We aim to take time to get to know the families and adults we work with and like the fact that we can maintain contact with clients over time and be available at different transition points in their lives.
Autism diagnostic assessment
In terms of diagnostic assessment, we know it can be a very stressful journey; to take some of the stress away we provide home-based assessment for children, young people and adults. We also have a clinic space in Islington, if this is preferable.
For some individuals, it may be unclear if a full diagnostic assessment is warranted, so we offer an initial assessment to help understand specific areas of strength and need in order to guide which way to move forward.
We offer a range of therapies depending on the child, family or adult’s needs – this may be to support with mental health (such as anxiety, stress, low mood) or communication (including communicating emotional states). We use cognitive behavioural therapy (modified as appropriate); systemic therapy and Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS).
We offer training to schools and professionals regarding autism-specific topics such as creating an autism-friendly environment; understanding behaviour that challenges; and autism and adolescence.
We are also working closely with specialist schools around staff well-being as we know that staff retention and stress can be a difficulty in this area.
This impacts on the staff themselves and has a knock-on effect for the pupils and their education. Our intervention focuses on developing reflective practice and supporting mental health. We have also been developing our corporate training packages as we are keen to support neurodivergent individuals in accessing employment.
Our neurodiversity training focuses on education and recognising the competitive advantages of working with people who are innovative and think outside the box.
What do we enjoy
One of the parts of our work we particularly enjoy is making connections with other people in this field. We are really blown away by the work of Sienna Castellon who is a 17-year-old neurodiversity advocate who is spreading the message by setting up Neurodiversity Celebration Week.
We attended Autism’s Got Talent earlier this year and we were so impressed by the way the children and young people showcased their talents live on stage.
We are strong advocates of ensuring women look after their well-being and with that in mind we are keen podcast listeners as well as Rebecca enjoying unwinding by watching Bake Off while Louise opts for swimming to take time for herself to relax and keep fit.
If you missed this weeks show you can listen every day this week at 1pm and 1am at Women’s Radio Station.