Chief Executive Officer
Gita manages our service and her responsibilities include development, training, fundraising, partnership work, and staffing. Gita works full time and takes the lead in strategic development, including local and national consultation and strategy. She is a member of the Oxfordshire Autism Partnership Board.
07929 379125 Email Gita
Judith first joined AFSO as an office Volunteer, before joining as a our Administrator. Judith manages all our office admin, referrals, and is probably the first person to greet you when you telephone or visit our office. Judith works part-time Monday – Wednesdays, Judith is a parent of a young adult with autism, and is a proud supporter of parent power.
01235 754700 Email Judith
Family Support Worker [Supporting parent/carers whose child is aged 13 and under]
Becky provides autism-specific information, support and advice to parents, as well as managing referrals to our youth groups. Becky is also available to provide advice and consultation to professionals supporting Oxfordshire families. Becky has a background in behaviour management and autism. She works full time and covers the whole of Oxfordshire and is community-based.
07929 379124 Email Becky
Community Outreach Worker [Supporting young people aged 14-25 and their parent/carers]
Sam joined us in January 2013 to help us extend our work into adult services. Sam provides autism-specific information; support and advice to young people aged 14-25, and their parents/carers as well as managing referrals to some of our older youth groups. Sam is available to provide advice and consultation to professionals supporting 14-25 year olds within Oxfordshire. She has a background in developing services and supporting adults on the spectrum. She works full time and covers the whole of Oxfordshire and is community-based.
07975 600625 Email Sam
Rebecca first joined AFSO as an office Volunteer, before joining as a our Training Administrator. Rebecca manages all our training courses – organising the venues across Oxfordshire, dealing with our bookings and liaising with our speakers. Rebecca works part-time. She is a parent of a child with autism, and is involved with other community projects.
01235 754700 Email Rebecca
Youth Group Coordinator (Saturday Youth Group)
Rachel runs our youth group for 8-12 year olds with Asperger’s Syndrome. She has a wealth of experience supporting children on the autism spectrum, with particular experience working in schools and supporting children in leisure activities.
Youth Group Coordinator (Friday Youth Group)
Meadhbh runs our teenage youth group held on Fridays in Wolvercote. Meadhbh’s experience includes working in a school for children with emotional and behavioural difficulties and autism, and in Mental Health service.
Youth Group Coordinator (Wednesday Youth Group)
Claire runs our youth group for 16-21 year olds with Asperger’s Syndrome. Claire has a wealth of experience supporting young adults on the autism spectrum in schools, college, and their natural environments.
Youth Support Worker
Bob supports young people in our Friday evening youth group. He also has experience of running mainstream after-school clubs and holiday clubs. Bob is also a parent of a young adult with Asperger’s Syndrome.
Youth Support Worker
Keeley supports young people at our Saturday morning group for 8-12 year olds. Outside of her work with AFSO Keeley’s full time job is within children’s mental health where she supports young people with autism and their parents.
Youth Support Worker
Nicole supports young people in our youth group for 16-21 yr olds with Aspergers Syndrome. In her day job Nicole works in a specialist school for children with autism, Nicole is experienced in teaching and supporting children with autism.
Our office admin is carried out by a team of fabulous volunteers who dedicate their time in the office, helping with events, and sometimes working from home – we would be lost without them!
Steph is a young adult with Asperger’s Syndrome, she attended our youth groups and holiday activities as a child and is now a volunteer – helping us with admin jobs as & when we need extra help. Steph is also an Expert by Experience speaker – helping us deliver training and sharing her lived experience and tips.
Board of Trustees
Dr John Richer
Chair of Trustees
John Richer has been involved in the field of autism for over 40 years, at first in research then in clinical practice. As Consultant Clinical Psychologist and department Head in Paediatric Psychology at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford he was fortunate in being able to see a wide range of children with behaviour on the autistic continuum and to meet them when they are very young, as well as following them and their families through to adulthood. He has gained greatly from the knowledge and ideas of the parents and of colleagues from many disciplines. He retired from the NHS in 2010 but retains honorary posts at the Children’s Hospital in Oxford, and the Department of Physiology Anatomy and Genetics in the University of Oxford.
His clinical work involved early diagnosis and treatment of children with a wide range of disabilities and disturbance, including Autistic Spectrum Disorders. He worked closely with Sheila Coates, then Head of the Service for Autism and was consultant to the Service. Since its foundation in the 1970s he was a Trustee of Children in Touch.
Although by training a psychologist, he is by inclination an ethologist. Ethology is the biological study of behaviour which emphasises direct observation of behaviour in natural environments and putting behaviour in a context of evolutionary theory, as well as looking at the immediate causes of behaviour, the long term causes in a child’s development and the function of behaviour. He was fortunate to be taught by the Nobel prize winner Professor Niko Tinbergen when an undergraduate at Oxford, and later to discover that he had come independently to similar views about the structure of autistic children’s behaviour. Professor Tinbergen very kindly donated a large proportion of his Nobel prize money to the work of Children in Touch.
He has written about attachment and social behaviour, communication, the acquisiton of culture and sharing of minds/intersubjectivity in the understanding and treatment of autism, as well as hyperactivity, nutrition and behaviour, behaviour problems, the rise of psychosocial problems in modern societies and ethological approaches to children’s behaviour. With Sheila Coates in 2001 he published the book “Autism – The Search for Coherence”. He is known internationally for his work in autism and other topics in children’s disturbed behaviour, and has lectured around the world on these topics. He has appeared on television and radio many times in this connection, and was link clinician in “Children Behaving Badly”. From time to time he has been asked to help companies, usually multinationals, with psychology related issues, (e.g NPD, background research papers, staff relations, company strategies). He is often asked by Courts to provide expert witness reports.
He has been Honorary Secretary of the Association for Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Chairman and Secretary of their Oxford Branch. He was Assistant Secretary General of the International Association for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Allied Professions and on the Editorial Board of an international scientific journal, Ethology and Sociobiology and the Italian Journal ‘Autismo e Disturbi dello Sviluppo’. He was on the Scientific Board of the Japanese society “Four Winds: for Infant Mental Health”. He was founder chairman of the Child Clinical Psychology Special Interest Group (now called the Faculty for Children and Young People), which is part of the British Psychological Society. He is on the Board of Assessors of the journal, Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry and of the Human Ethology Bulletin. As well as chairing the Trustees of Children in Touch, he is Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the International Society for Human Ethology, and is a Governor of Northern House school in Oxford.
Nick is an independent Clinical Psychologist with a special interest in developmental disorders. He has a degree in Social Psychology from the University of Sussex and an MSc in Clinical Psychology from the University of Leeds. For most of his career he worked with adults and children with learning disabilities. From 1998 to 2008 he was head of the Psychology Department at the Ridgeway Partnership NHS Trust. He still provides a consultancy to the NHS concerning diagnosis of ASD in adults and supports adults with Aspergers Syndrome in a voluntary capacity. He joined our Board of Trustees in 2011.
Marian is the mother of 3, now grown up boys, one of whom has Special Educational Needs. She took an Economics and Sociology Degree and then after a couple of years a qualification in Social Work at Bristol University. Working as a Psychiatric Social Worker in Cornwall she developed an interest in Attachment Theory. Since moving to Oxford in 1990 to work as a Specialist Social Worker in Learning Disability based at the Park Hospital, she then took up the post of Co-ordinator of Oxfordshire’s Parent Partnership Service for Parents of Children with SEN in 1999. Marian has been a member of the Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health for 35 years and during that time has developed a particular interest in Autism.
Marian originally helped to set up and establish Oxfordshire based play and leisure projects Parasol in 1992 and The John Watson Kids Club in 2001 because she recognised that the play and social needs of young people with Learning Disability and Autism were not being met at that time. She joined as a Trustee in 2009 to contribute to the development of further services for the growing numbers of young people on the Autistic Spectrum.