We are a specialist team that either through personal or professional experience have a deep respect and interest in improving the lives for all autistic people. We believe that through increasing understanding of autism and embracing the neurodiversity of each person we will achieve better outcomes in their day-to-day lives, whether in the education, criminal justice or social care system.
We are committed to supporting you to reflect on your practice and continuously develop your ways of working in order to achieve accreditation.
Head of Accreditation
Chris Mitchell has worked as a professional social worker in learning disability, mental health and autism services throughout his 35 year career. He has held various posts at senior managerial levels in the voluntary sector for 15 of these, including an earlier four year period as Head of Adult Services with The National Autistic Society and three years as the Deputy Chief Executive of the Association for Real Change.
From 2008-2015, Chris led and managed the establishment, operational development and service delivery of the well-known and respected Nottinghamshire Adults with Asperger’s Team.
Chris was a member of the External Reference Group which informed the introduction of the Autism Act and Autism Strategy for England, and later, he was a member of the NICE Quality Standards Committee in Autism. He has the CQSW, an MA in Applied Psychology and the Post Graduate Certificate in Asperger’s Syndrome delivered in partnership by The National Autistic Society and Sheffield Hallam University.
Head of Accreditation
Tel: 0117 9748438
Northern UK and overseas
Christine has worked in a variety of different roles within The National Autistic Society for a number of years. She has worked with both children and adults throughout the North East and North Yorkshire, in provisions such as supported living, employment, education, inclusion projects and outreach.
Christine has been a passionate supporter of initiatives such as the personalisation of services and participation by autistic people, and has worked alongside departments and people that are supported to ensure that these are understood and embedded within practice.
Christine now leads a team of Advisers in the North, including Lancashire, Yorkshire, Tyneside and Scotland. Christine has a background in psychology and began her career in autism from university. She believes that experience has been the biggest learning tool of all.
Senior Accreditation Adviser (North)
Mobile: 07766 315 661
Greater Manchester and Lancashire
Rachel has over 20 years’ experience working with autistic children and/or additional and complex needs. Her initial interest in supporting others stems from her early experiences growing up when her parents fostered children with additional needs.
Rachel has worked as a teaching assistant in mainstream and specialist provision, including private settings and schools, gaining invaluable hands-on experience and supporting the learning, development and attainment of autistic young people. For 12 years Rachel worked for a local authority as an early years additional and complex needs adviser, advising parents, early years settings and schools. She has a BA in Special Educational Needs and a Diploma in Management Studies.
Rachel has a number of family members on the spectrum. This personal insight, along with her professional experience advising services, gives her a real enthusiasm for person-centred services and best autism practice.
Mobile: 07436 036 722
Stephen has been a teacher since 1993, working in a variety of school settings both within the UK and overseas including mainstream, generic special needs and autism-specific environments. He has also worked in both day and residential schools.
Stephen joined the Autism Accreditation team in August 2003. He has a first class honours degree in education, a postgraduate certificate in Asperger syndrome and recently graduated from Sheffield Hallam University with a MA in autism.
Tel/Fax: 01563 559 258
Mobile: 07766 311 966
North East of England
Originally a teacher, Anja left the school environment behind in 2009 and started working in the Health and Social Care field, where she was responsible for the running of a household with adults with autism and/or learning disabilities. Although teaching is the qualification that shaped Anja’s professional development, she feels that the later part of her career, the time spent living and working with people with learning disabilities, shaped her social development.
Anja has a PGCE, qualifications in Health and Social Care, and recently graduated from Sunderland University with a first class SENCO award.
Mobile: 07423 434770
North West of England
Liz has over 25 years' experience of working with autistic children and young people. As a teacher she has worked in both generic special schools and autism-specific schools and units. She has also undertaken outreach work into schools, early years settings, and out of school clubs.
Liz worked for Autism Accreditation in 2010 completing a six-month temporary contract as an Adviser, she rejoined the team in December 2011. Liz has a degree in Special Education and has postgraduate qualifications in Autism, and Education Management.
Tel/Fax: 0151 342 6197
Mobile: 07810 418 144
Southern UK and overseas
Stephen has been a teacher since 1987, becoming the SENCO of a mainstream comprehensive high school in Hertfordshire before working as a consultant on autism spectrum disorders for the London Borough of Ealing SENS team.
In August 2007, Stephen became an Autism Accreditation adviser. Since July 2014, Stephen has been leading a team of Advisers in the South, Midlands and Wales. He has postgraduate certificates in both education and psychology and an RSA diploma in special educational needs. Stephen wrote a chapter on including pupils with ASD for the book Looking At Inclusion: Listening To The Voices Of Young People. Stephen is approaching his final year of his Masters in Disability Studies at the University of Bristol.
Senior Accreditation Adviser (South)
Tel: 020 8863 3811
Mobile: 07766 311 964
South Wales and the South West
David has been working in the education sector since 1987, working in a variety of schools and colleges in the UK and the Middle East. David has also recently worked closely alongside adults with learning difficulties and autism in South Wales, helping with access to employment opportunities. David has a keen personal interest in developing all aspects of service provision for autistic people, as two of his family members are on the spectrum. This has given David years of experience from the point of view of a parent.
David joined the Accreditation team in July 2014 and is very much looking forward to working with and supporting all types of provisions through the process in Wales and the South West.
Mobile: 07917 088 095
Stephanie de Vries
Stephanie has been working in the field of autism since 2007. Before becoming an Accreditation Adviser, she was the Autism Lead at a specialist residential school for boys with emotional and behavioural difficulties. Stephanie successfully led the school through the Accreditation programme which led to her interest in becoming an adviser.
Prior to working as an Autism Lead Stephanie practiced as a fully-qualified Homeopath for several years during which time she supported many autistic children and their families.
Stephanie has a Post Graduate Certificate in Asperger syndrome.
Stephanie de Vries
Tel: 07764 564661
East Anglia and London
Hannelore has worked in the field of autism since 1997. She started in an adult residential setting, then worked in an outreach service for both adults and children with autism, learning difficulties and Asperger syndrome. Hannelore has successfully managed day services for the past 10 years.
Hannelore studied art therapy (BA/ MA) in Holland and the UK. She has also studied human resource management and has PGcerts in SEN, autism/Asperger syndrome and learning difficulties. These reflect her interests and dedication to the development in approaches that help autistic people and staff development.
Hannelore has worked with accreditation standards since 2000 and has been through the process of becoming accredited several times.
Mobile: 07766 497 999
London and South East
Lana Holmes (on maternity leave until 2017)
Lana has worked in adult residential services for autistic people with learning disabilities since 2006. During this time she supported staff to develop communication techniques, social inclusion and positive behavioural support practices to improve the quality of life of people with complex and challenging needs.
Lana has successfully supported services achieve Accreditation status and in 2010 was a finalist in the National Care Awards. Lana has a Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Psychology and Counselling and a Postgraduate Masters in Behavioural Analysis and Autism from the Tizard Centre-University of Kent. Both her experience and education reflect her passion for supporting and developing services to meet the needs of the people they support.
Mobile: 07768 926592
Sue has worked with autistic children and adults in a variety of provisions over the past 20 years, including advocacy, education, outreach and respite care. During this time she has supported autistic individuals with complex needs using interventions such as Intensive Interaction, SPELL and TEACCH, and provided training on managing behaviour and sensory needs.
From 2013 to 2016 Sue set up and ran a support service for families and adults affected by autism in West Berkshire for The National Autistic Society, which included 1:1 support for adults and delivering training seminars and support direct to families and schools. This has also led to an ongoing volunteer support project for autistic adults in West Berkshire.
Sue originally studied biology and neuroscience leading to a Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Biological Sciences and a PhD awarded for research into neurological differences associated with theory of mind and conscious processing. Since then she has graduated with an MSc (distinction) in Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities with Multi-Sensory Impairments, focussing specifically on the use of Intensive Interaction with autistic people.
London and Home Counties
Nicola has spent most of her career working in special and mainstream education. Most recently, she has been working in further education supporting young people on the autism spectrum with college study and beyond.
Nicola has completed a BA (Hons) and an MA in Education with particular focus on autism. She also has a PGCE in Lifelong Learning. Nicola’s passion for working with autistic people has led her to this role as an adviser and she is looking forward to supporting a range of provisions through the accreditation process.
Mobile: 07766 990089
The Standards Body
On behalf of the Board of Trustees of The National Autistic Society, the Standards Body acts as the steward of the Autism Accreditation Standards. They monitor, review, and agree Criteria and Standards against which registered services are evaluated. The Standards Body ensures that the Standards reflect contemporary good and best practice as well as reflecting aspirations. They will actively seek out advice, collaboration and new ideas from views and experiences of autistic people and incorporate them into the Standards. Accreditation will support the Standards Body and facilitate the development of the Standards, when necessary through working groups to develop proposals for the Standards Body to consider.
Chair of The Standards Body
Members of the Standards Body
Jacqui Ashton Smith
Chair of panels
Following a senior management career in special education and care in the London boroughs; where he had involvement in The Camberwell Autism Study, Fred was appointed as the founding Director of Adult and Further Education services for NoRSACA, now known as Autism East Midlands. Fred held this position for some 27 years and during this time successfully commissioned a diverse range of specialist services including residential care homes, specialist colleges and day services, supported living, outreach and family support and autism counselling and training.
Fred has been actively involved with Autism Accreditation since its inception as a member of the founding group that drafted the initial standards and is now in his second tenure as award panel chair. Like Chris Mitchell he was also a selected member of the DoH external reference group informing the Autism Act.
Fred is qualified in special education and social work, is a qualified mediator and was made an honorary life member of the “Coalition of Senior Professionals working with people with Autism” in 2013.
Review Team Members
The Autism Accreditation process relies on an experienced peer review system to gather evidence of practice and verify support given to autistic people within services for children or adults.
All peer reviewers are matched to the provision they are visiting and receive full training and ongoing monitoring in order to undertake the role.
Our Review team training is CPD certified and there is a full CPD pathway to enable volunteers to progress and expand their knowledge and experience.
Join our Review team