Current NAT Directors:
Autistic activist, mother & campaigner, Kabie has 30 years’ experience working paid and unpaid with and for Autistic people of all ages and perceived ability, including in the social care sector. Kabie has specialised in supporting people labelled as having ‘challenging behaviour’. Kabie is cofounder and current chairperson of ARGH – Autism Rights Group Highland, member of the Scottish Government Autism Strategy Review Group, was involved with the development of ASK (Autistic Space Kit) and holds a community advisor role for Police Scotland.
Kabie is experienced in working with and supporting other autistic people in the context of organizational governance, including organizing a forum to support the development of autistic people’s organizations in Scotland. Kabie also has experience in running focus groups of autistic people, including for the Scottish Government Improving Understanding of Autism Programme.
Karen Leneh Buckle
Leneh is autistic and a parent of four neurodivergent young people. Following degrees in neuroscience, psychology and bioethics, Leneh is currently undertaking a funded PhD at the University of Manchester looking at initiation impairments (‘inertia’) in autistic people. Leneh recently completed a participatory qualitative research project including conducting and analysing focus group discussions with autistic people, and co-authored a paper on neurodiversity and early intervention, both pending publication in a peer reviewed journal. Leneh also contributed a chapter to ‘Autistic Community and the Neurodiversity Movement’.
Leneh has experience of involving autistic people in the neurotypical-dominated domain of autism research. She has applied her expertise in participatory research, autism and quality of life to work on projects with organisations including: Mentaur, the National Autism Project, the National Autistic Taskforce, Autistica, and research teams at several universities. She currently works part-time as an associate research consultant with a Community Interest Company gathering and analysing the views of autistic young people on what is important to them, and as an autism trainer in social care. Leneh provides a critical voice from the autistic community in her service on Autistica’s Scientific Review Panel. Her focus throughout her involvement in these diverse endeavours has been on setting aside assumptions, prioritising support for autonomy, and recognising that autistic people’s priorities may differ from the typical. She often serves as a ‘translator’ between autistic experts by experience and neurotypical researchers as she is fluent in the languages of both communities.
Leneh has been involved in the autistic community for nearly 25 years. She has worked with autistic people since 2004, largely in a leadership capacity, to create and manage Autscape, a large annual residential event for autistic people. This has included accommodating the diverse needs of hundreds of autistic participants, including effective communication verbally and in text. From her work with Autscape, a registered charity, Leneh has gained understanding of charity governance and recruiting and supporting autistic board members from a variety of backgrounds.
Dr Yo Dunn
Yo is a trainer and consultant who, through her company Consult Yo Ltd., works across the public sector (primarily in adult social care) with specialisms in autism and public law. She is experienced in working closely with professionals at all levels in local authorities, care providers and in schools. She creates and delivers high level training on the legal frameworks of social care (including statutory duties for assessment and care planning, adult safeguarding and mental capacity law, amongst others) and specialist training on autism for local authorities, care providers, social care sector organisations such as OPG and ADASS and in the education sector. As a result, she has a thorough and up to date working knowledge of public law and professional practice issues in both adult and children’s services for autistic people both with and without intellectual disabilities and a multi-faceted perspective on a range of issues across a wide range of settings in health and social care.
She is experienced in consultancy and project management, including through the highly successful St. Clement’s Autism Centre of Excellence project, awarded two consecutive grants from the Scottish Autism Strategy, during which Yo produced the St. Clement’s Practical Autism videos and worked collaboratively at all levels of the organisation to achieve and maintain substantial culture change (see here). More recently, Yo served as legal and policy consultant to the National Autism Project, before becoming strategic lead of NAT and leading the development of the NAT Independent Guide to Quality Care for Autistic People. She also served on behalf of NAT on the Steering Group for the Department of Health and Social Care’s Core Capabilities Framework for Supporting Autistic People and has consulted for the British Association of Social Worker’s Homes not Hospitals campaign.
A published author in both education and social work, Yo’s academic background is in social policy analysis and her doctorate is in educational research, which includes expertise in project evaluation. She now writes primarily on legal and policy topics (mostly in areas affecting autistic people), including regular case law reports and her book on Social Work with Autistic People (published Sept 2020).
Yo is autistic, a parent of autistic children and has lengthy experience of being involved in the adult self-advocate community, having retired after many years as company secretary of Autscape.
Dr Damian Milton
Damian works part-time for the Tizard Centre, University of Kent as a Lecturer in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and for the National Autistic Society (NAS) as Autism Knowledge and Expertise Consultant. Damian also teaches on the MA Education (Autism) programme at London South Bank University and consulted for the Transform Autism Education (TAE) project and a number of projects for the Autism Education Trust (AET).
Damian is autistic and parent of an autistic child. Damian’s primary focus is on increasing the meaningful participation of autistic people and people with learning disabilities in the research process and chairs the Participatory Autism Research Collective (PARC).
Dr Ian Ragan
Dr Ian Ragan is a retired neuropharmacologist and an independent consultant in the biomedical sector. He spent nearly 20 years in the pharmaceutical industry, finally retiring from Eli Lilly as Executive Director, Neuroscience Research, Europe, and Executive Director, European Scientific Affairs. He was a founder member of the Research Directors’ Group of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) and one of the originators of the Innovative Medicines Initiative. He has been chair of the R&D Committee of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry and the Executive Director of the European Brain Council. He has been a board member, chair, scientific advisor or project co-ordinator for many organisations including the UK Advisory Committee on Misuse of Drugs, Autistica, the Biotechology and Biological Sciences Research Council, Biovail, Capsant Neurotechnologies, EFPIA, Evotec, the Medical Research Council and Psynova Neurotech.
He has a long-standing interest in research and interventions in autism and was Director of the National Autism Project (2015-2018) which published a landmark analysis of the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of interventions in autism “The Autism Dividend- Reaping the Rewards of Better Investment”.
Consistent with the founding principles of NAT, Ian, as the only neurotypical Director, is not involved with NAT’s strategy but his role is to manage financial and other technical aspects on behalf of the autistic team.
Dinah Murray 1946-2021
Dinah Murray was an independent researcher with a PhD on the topic of Language and Interests; a campaigner, a support worker for people with varied learning disabilities including autism and a tutor for Birmingham University’s distance learning courses on autism (adults) tutoring practitioners. Her autism related work has been published in Autism, in Good Autism Practice, Autonomy, a number of books and on-line; she presented at numerous conferences on varied themes related to autism.
Dinah’s autism-related research interests included: medication and its impact on quality of life; information technology for people who don’t use speech; the ethics of autism research; the nature of the human being, with a particular focus on interests. She was assessed as autistic, and if growing up today would certainly have attracted an autism diagnosis. From the early ‘90s Dinah was involved in campaigns around abusive prescribing practices, access to digital communications and generally active removal of barriers to the acceptance, appreciation and expression of autistic and other atypical variants of the human being.
After three years on the National Autism Project‘s Strategy Board, where she established an Autistic Advisory Panel which proved highly useful, Dinah was honoured to get an unsolicited donation from Dame Stephanie Shirley of £100,000. This was earmarked for the National Autistic Taskforce, launched at the start of 2018 with a remit to address justice and autonomy for autistic people, especially those who don’t use speech effectively to meet their needs.
Dinah was also associated in a formal or informal capacity with: the Participatory Autism Research Collective; Autangel; the Autistic Advisory Group to Hirsch at Glasgow Uni; the Autism Dialogue; a game development project to highlight the great diversity of autism; promotion of a Communication Support Worker (CSW) role; and the AutNav project.
- Neuroclastic – A Productive Irritant: A Celebration of the Life of Dr. Dinah Murray
- The Guardian – Dinah Murray obituary: Champion of autistic people who explored the attention that they devote to a leading interest
- The Times – Dinah Murray obituary: Researcher into autism who campaigned tirelessly for those on the spectrum and developed the theory of ‘monotropism’