Our Education Team

Meet the team delivering education programmes
nationwide.
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Education Team Members

01. Neil Stuart, National Education Manager

Neil has over 20 years’ experience working with people with autism, aged from 18 months to 65 years. He was a registered teacher from 1990 to 2014 in England and New Zealand. Since 1993 he has taught children with Autism exclusively and he established the first centre for children with Aspergers Syndrome based on a mainstream school in Southern England. He came to Auckland in 2001 to support the teaching practice of students with Autism at Oaklynn School, West Auckland and in 2002 he set up and designed the first purpose built primary school centre for children with autism in New Zealand at Te AraHou, Glenavon School. Neil was an outreach teacher for Mainstream Schools and is often asked to advise on the inclusion of school children with autism through the Intensive Wraparound Service and he has worked closely with families through his work with the EarlyBird programme in which he is a Train the Trainer.


Neil has written several externally evaluated autism specific education programmes, including FANZ, Way to Play and Tilting the Seesaw and had engaged and collaborated with Learning Support at the Ministry of Education in Auckland to train early intervention teachers and speech language therapists on how to engage young children with autism. He has also developed a programme for early childhood teachers that has been used by SELO, Ministry of Education in Te Tai Tokerau, Auckland wide, Waikato, Bay of Plenty and Hawkes Bay/Tairawhiti. He regularly presents at national and international conferences and was selected to speak at APAC 2017, Asia Pacific Autism Conference.

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02. Tanya Blakey, National Educator

Tanya is a mother of two daughters, one of whom has autism. She is an EarlyBird® Trainer and has worked as a Teacher Aide in a Special School. Tanya is a joint contributor and developer of the Autism New Zealand suite of education programmes, and she travels the country delivering them. Her valuable experience living with and caring for someone with autism provides excellent insights and adds a realistic, down-to-earth perspective to our programmes.

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03. Jo Charman, Regional Educator

Jo had been working with Autism New Zealand for eight years as an Outreach Coordinator in Auckland, supporting and working together with families/whānau and individuals on their journey with autism. As an Educator, Jo was also busy in the community presenting information and training to schools, community groups and other support agencies. Now as a full-time Educator and as a mother of 2 boys – one of whom is on the Autism Spectrum, Jo provides a unique perspective from both a professional and (often humorous and ‘real’) personal perception.

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04. Robyn Young, Regional Educator

Robyn, in her second year solely as an Educator combines her nine years of experience as an Outreach Coordinator in the Canterbury/West Coast region with her education/teaching background to share her knowledge and experience as a member of the Education team. Throughout all of her work Robyn embraces learning as a lifelong journey. She treasures the invaluable insights and understanding provided by the families and professionals she has worked alongside, contributing to her understanding and empathy for those living and working with Autism. Robyn recognises and appreciates the challenges Autism may bring but she also likes to share and celebrate the ‘magic moments’.

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