Reframing isn’t about changing Autism. It isn’t about changing Autistic people.
Reframing is about changing the frame through which we view Autism. It’s about losing the stereotypes. And the stigmas. And the prejudice.
It’s about changing our lens so that we see the strength in Autism. And the value. And the beauty.
Reframing means acceptance, inclusion, equity and employment. And that means that we are free to be our Autistic selves.
It means that people don’t just think that our Autistic way of being is acceptable or tolerable. It means they celebrate it as awesome.
The infinity symbol that forms our logo is the symbol of neurodiversity.
Neurodiversity simply means we see Autism as valuable, worthy and natural. It means we think of brain differences as necessary and beneficial.
We have used a repeated infinity symbol to make our special knotwork icon. The repeated infinity speaks to the infinite diversity of humanity.
It also speaks to the interconnectedness of that diversity. We rely on diversity to make the world the amazing place it is.
You’ll also see that we have a kaleidoscope pattern of colours in our infinity logo. When you look through a kaleidoscope, you see gorgeous colours and shifting patterns. What you see might be unexpected. It might be different each time you view it. But it is always beautiful.
We think that’s a bit like Autism. Unexpected. Different. Beautiful.
We also bring Autistic people, and non-autistic families and allies of the Autistic community, together.
Autistic people lead by sharing their lived experiences and their special knowledge and gifts.
Together we grow to understand Autism and neurodiversity.
Together we promote equity and acceptance.
We have great expectations that the Autistic community can be self-determined, resilient, active citizens.
That Autism will be valued, esteemed and respected.
That families and allies of the Autistic community will live better lives by embracing the Autistic community.
And that our families will learn with us to build a supportive world that appreciates Autism in all its guises.
Melanie Heyworth began Reframing Autism in 2017. She was working for an organisation called Plumtree Children’s Services that provides early intervention for young children with disability.
She recognised that parents who didn’t know much about Autism could benefit from hearing from an Autistic adult.
Plumtree supported Melanie to start the group by providing financial support. They also provided the workshop venue and free childcare so families could come along easily.
Melanie and the Reframing Autism team are so grateful to Plumtree for believing in Melanie’s vision and supporting it to grow.
Reframing Autism’s first workshop had eight families. It grew quickly to fifty families. Then, in 2019, the NDIS gave Reframing Autism a grant to help it grow more. It allowed us to become an independent organisation. Plumtree has continued to help and guide us through this transition phase to independence by auspicing us for the grant.
We couldn’t do what we do at Reframing Autism without Plumtree’s initial belief and their ongoing support. We are also deeply grateful for the NDIS grant that allowed Reframing Autism to flourish and grow.
Have more questions? They might be answered on our FAQs page.
Meet our team
Dr Melanie HeyworthCEO and Founder
Dr Melanie HeyworthCEO and Founder
Melanie Heyworth (pronouns she/her) is an Autistic mother of three Autistic children. She has postgraduate qualifications in Autism. Mel is passionate about creating a better world for herself, her children, and the Autistic community.
Mel founded Reframing Autism in 2017. She has been running it ever since. Through Reframing Autism, Mel wants to bring parents of Autistic children to a more accepting, optimistic and hopeful way of parenting.
She firmly believes that social change can only occur when Autistic individuals are supported to explore and celebrate their authentic Autistic identities.
Sophie RalstonProgram Manager
Sophie RalstonProgram Manager
Sophie Ralston (pronouns she/her) is a proudly Autistic mother of Autistic children.
Sophie is a passionate advocate and activist for the Autistic community. She is uncompromising in her fight to achieve inclusion, equity, equality and justice for the Autistic community. She has a deep commitment to the neurodiversity movement as the vehicle through which the Autistic population can achieve their human rights. Sophie leads Reframing Autism with a vision for effecting change at a grassroots, community level.
With a professional background in visual media production, Sophie is also the artistic and production talent behind Reframing Autism’s activities. She brings her experiences working in publishing and the media industry to support Reframing Autism’s various activities and events.
Ginny GrantCommunications Manager
Ginny GrantCommunications Manager
Ginny Grant (pronouns she/her) is a late-diagnosed Autistic parent of two young Autistic children.
As a freelance writer and editor of a local lifestyle blog, Ginny has written and edited numerous pieces on the subjects of Autism and neurodiversity. In 2018 she coordinated and spoke on a live discussion panel on Autism acceptance for a large online parenting group, which has now been viewed more than 1700 times.
Ginny is a leader and active contributor within several online communities. She is especially passionate about emphasising a strengths-based view of Autism and amplifying Autistic voices across her networks.
Kathy Isaacs (pronouns she/her) was diagnosed with Autism and then with ADHD as an adult, she is involved in Autistic advocacy, with interests including research co-production, Autistic-led Autism supports, and accessibility.
She also enjoys simplifying Autism-related research papers and concepts for a non-academic audience.
She currently works in the Operations team at the Autism CRC as a CRM administrator, and is also a registered nurse, with a passion for helping Autistic people navigate the healthcare system safely and effectively.
Kathy lives in Melbourne with her husband and 2 neurodivergent kids.
Sharon Fraser (pronouns she/her) is a neurodivergent Mum of two boisterous, gorgeous sons. One of her sons is Autistic.
Sharon is a passionate ally to the Autistic community. And she is a passionate advocate for her son.
Sharon was the Treasurer of the Autism Community Network since 2016 until 2019.
She received a St George Community Award for Individual Volunteer Achievement for her support of the Autistic community.
Sharon has a deep, personal investment in Reframing Autism. When she found out that her oldest son was Autistic, Sharon didn’t know much about Autism. She had only been exposed to harmful and damaging stereotypes. Looking back, Sharon feels she wasted too much time and energy focusing on the wrong things. When she discovered adult Autistic voices, she changed her approach to parenting. She saw that a strengths-based approach was the path to the best life for her son.
She hopes to gift that message to other parents as early as possible in their journeys.
Professionally, Sharon is a senior finance leader. She has a wealth of experience in all aspects of operational finance. She is a US Certified Public Accountant. Sharon started her career with PricewaterhouseCoopers in Washington, DC. She then moved to London. There, she worked for a range of companies. Sharon now calls Sydney home. She is the Chief Financial Officer for Global Sisters.
Dr Justine NobleDirector
Dr Justine NobleDirector
Dr Justine Noble (pronouns she/her) is a consultant paediatrician who is passionate about child health and development. She graduated from the University of NSW and completed Diploma in Paediatrics, before completing Royal College of Physician Fellowships in both General Paediatrics and Community Child Health. She has over 15 years of experience in Paediatrics.
Justine’s interests range from general to developmental and behavioural paediatrics. She has extensive experience of helping families of children with difficulties accessing the services and supports they need to improve their quality of life.
Dr Justine is gifted-friendly, and LBGTQI-friendly and is passionate about advocacy for her clients. Her focus of care is to help children from bio-psycho-social model, and concentric multilevel of care rather than solely on the treating the individual.
Dr Justine also works in research in her public health honorary role in the Sydney Local Health District. Her focuses of research is in perinatal mental health and urban Aboriginal children wellbeing.
Tim Chan (pronouns he/him) is a 24-year old Chinese Australian. He was diagnosed with Autism at 3 years old. Tim has been non-speaking after 14 months of age.
At 9 years old, Tim became opened to the possibility of connecting with people and with the life he wanted to live.
He has kept working on building his capacity and strengths. His journey has been supported and scaffolded by his social network.
Some of the highlights of this journey include graduating from mainstream school to study at University. Tim also gave a TEDTalk when he was 18, presumably the first by a nonspeaking Autistic person.
Tim has the greatest respect and time for organizations that advocate for Autism. He is excited to be part of the self advocacy movement. Tim wants to drive Autism to a new level of relevance and inclusion.
Deb Boyd (pronouns she/her) is a lawyer. She is part of a wonderfully neurodivergent family of five.
Deb started her career working for a large global law firm. She then moved inhouse to a private holding company. There, she worked across a wide range of businesses and commercial matters.
In the last four years, Deborah has run her own commercial law practice. She also balances the demands of raising three young children.
Deb is passionate about inclusion and inclusive education. She advocates for the rights of the disadvantaged. She works to include those living on the margins of society.
Deb’s interest and passion for neurodiversity began when she started thinking about brain differences. She advocates for a society that includes and values everyone.
Deb enjoys running, reading and going to the theatre.
Dr Erin BullussDirector
Dr Erin BullussDirector
Dr Erin Bulluss (she/her) is a clinical psychologist with a particular passion for working therapeutically with Autistic people through online telehealth platforms. She feels strongly about honouring neurodiversity in the pursuit of well-being and was diagnosed with Autism herself in her mid-thirties. She brings together her personal and professional understandings of Autism in her therapeutic approach, aiming to build a strong, collaborative therapeutic relationship based upon understanding and acceptance. Erin places the needs of the individual at the centre of her therapeutic approach so the experience of therapy is different for each and every individual.
In her clinical practice, Erin both treats co-occurring mental health conditions and offers “psychologically-informed mentoring” to assist neurodivergent individuals who have not developed any co-occurring conditions to accept their lovely uniqueness, navigate the neurotypical aspects of the world, and develop a lifestyle that promotes wellbeing and mental health.
Erin has published articles and presented workshops about her approach to therapy with Autistic individuals and hopes to promote acceptance of autism through contributing to the development of therapeutic approaches that genuinely embrace neurodiversity and do not place neurotypical expectations on neurodivergent individuals. Erin also co-authors a Psychology Today blog which aims to provide information about Autism from the perspective of late-diagnosed Autistic professionals.
Erin also has two Autistic children, and aims to create an authentically Autistic family life.
Kristen Callow (pronouns she/her) is a neurodivergent mother of a Autistic young teen. At the time of her child’s diagnosis in 2008, the dominant narrative on Autism was overwhelmingly negative and dismissive of Autistic voices. Once Kristen made meaningful connections to the Autistic community, it changed the way she viewed Autism and disability and opened up a wonderful world of insights, support and friendship that continues to benefit her entire family to this day. Over the years, Kristen has been heavily involved in both grassroots and formal parent-to-parent information sharing and support. She is particularly passionate about helping connect other Allistic parents to Autistic-led resources and communities so that their young people can grow up feeling understood, supported and validated. A lawyer by training, Kristen proudly works for an Autistic-led non profit. She continues to seek out and learn from Autistic voices.
Yenn PurkisBrand Ambassador
Yenn PurkisBrand Ambassador
Reframing Autism’s Brand Ambassador is Yenn Purkis (pronouns they/them).
Yenn is a passionate Autistic and non-binary advocate. Yenn is an author, presenter and community leader.
They have written six books on elements of Autism. They have a strong media presence. And they facilitate a support group for Autistic women and gender diverse people. They have given presentations around the world, including for TEDx Canberra. Yenn was named the 2016 ACT Volunteer of the Year.
Yenn works full-time in the Australian Public Service.
Meet our Autistic experts
Ally is an Autistic and neurodivergent woman. She lives in Australia. Ally is the mother of five neurodivergent children. She raises her children without punishment.
Ally challenges assumptions about why Autistic children aren’t thriving. She questions if the ways parents are currently advised to help their Autistic children to thrive, really help them. She argues that they are damaging our children rather than supporting them. Ally believes all children need certain things to thrive. Being Autistic doesn’t change that.
Anna is a proudly Autistic parent of Autistic children. She is a board member for the Autistic Realm Australia Inc. (TARA). TARA is an Autistic-led not-for-profit that supports Autistic people and their families. TARA used to be called Sisterhood of the Autistic Girl and Brotherhood of the Autistic Boy. Anna is also an active and empathetic parent mentor in the TARA Facebook community.
Anna is currently studying for her Masters in Social Work.
Cadence is an active, playful and bright 12-year-old girl. Cadence is Autistic (commonly known as ‘Classic Autism’). Cadence delights in writing, twirling, patterns, counting, and painting. She has a great love for animals, being outdoors and all things princess and fairy. Her first public piece, ‘Autism is why I am different’ was published by Kidspot magazine in August 2015. Cadence was just 7 years old. It has since been made into a Spanish short film, ‘Acceptance’. It was released in August 2016.
Dr Emma Goodall
Dr Emma Goodall
Emma is an Autistic disability researcher, author and professional. She is also a wife. She is the mother of a young adult who grew up with challenges. Her child is now proudly growing in confidence and skills.
Dr Jac den Houting
Dr Jac den Houting
Dr Jac den Houting (they/them) is a research psychologist and Autistic activist in pursuit of social justice. Jac currently holds the role of Postdoctoral Research Associate at Macquarie University in Sydney, working alongside Professor Liz Pellicano. In 2015, Jac was awarded an Autism CRC scholarship to complete their PhD through the Autism Centre of Excellence at Griffith University in Brisbane. Jac has published articles in a number of respected academic journals, including an invited editorial in the leading journal Autism. In 2019, Jac made their TEDx debut with a viral talk that accrued more than 100,000 views in less than two weeks online. Prior to their research career, Jac gained almost 10 years’ experience as a psychologist in the criminal justice system, with the Queensland Police Service and Queensland Corrective Services.
Jac was identified as Autistic at the age of 25, and is proudly neurodivergent and queer. After participating in the inaugural Future Leaders Program at the 2013 Asia Pacific Autism Conference, Jac quickly became established as a strong advocate for the Autistic community. Jac is the current Secretary of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network of Australia and New Zealand (ASAN-AuNZ), and a member of Aspect’s LGBTQIA+ Advisory Committee and the Aspect Advisory Council.
Katy is a neurodivergent mother to two Autistic daughters, aged 12 and 9. Katy has a degree in Disability studies. She has a postgraduate degree in Primary Education. She is also partway through her Masters of Education and her Graduate Certificate of Autism Studies.
Kylieanne is Autistic with ADHD. She is the proud parent of two Autistic children with ADHD. Kylieanne is one of the co-founders and a board member for The Autistic Realm Australia Inc., an Autistic led Not-For-Profit that supports, educates and advocates for Autistic people and their families. She also sits on the board of GFSG Inc NSW. Her background is in business and marketing and she runs her own business from a rural area on the south Coast of NSW. Kylieanne is pursuing further education to further increase her knowledge in her passion area of neurodiversity and inclusion, with a focus on rural and remote areas.
Michelle Swan is an internationally known autistic Australian writer, speaker, resource developer, mentor, and neurodiversity rights advocate. Michelle’s work focuses on self-understanding and personal development, peer support, community building and meaningful inclusion in all settings. Through centring the voices of neurodivergent people in conversations about neurodiversity, she encourages real understanding of their experiences and appropriate ways to support them. You’ll find Michelle online at her website, and on Facebook and Instagram.
Shadia is the proud owner, and founder of Autism Actually, and enjoys presenting and mentoring. They are committed to empowering fellow Autistic and neurodivergent individuals and helping them reach their true potential. Shadia is currently studying Bachelor of Speech Pathology with the hope of providing animal assisted therapy for neurodivergent individuals. Shadia was diagnosed with Autism at the age of three, and Generalised Anxiety Disorder at the age of 14. They came out as non-binary in early 2018 and loves talking about Autism and gender issues. Shadia benefitted from numerous early supports such as speech therapy and occupational therapy. They are very passionate about sharing information about what it is like to be on the spectrum.
Dr Wenn Lawson
Dr Wenn Lawson
Dr Wenn Lawson is an Autistic lecturer, psychologist, researcher, advocate, writer and poet. He has passionately shared his professional and personal knowledge about Autism for 25 years.
William is a multiply neurodivergent Autistic 11-year old who is homeschooled after deciding that mainstream school was not the right place for him. William enjoys his life which is a mix of routine, and flexibility and freedom. William spends much of his time engaging in his passions and talking about them to anyone who will willingly (or not so willingly) listen. His passions include modelling Warhammer 40K and WWII aircraft and land vehicles; building realistic architecture in Minecraft; working on his Hornby train layout, and listening to audiobooks.
Our Autistic friends
Reframing Autism has the pleasure of collaborating with many Autistic individuals. We have a full list of the Autistic people we have worked with at our Autistic friends page.
Plumtree Children's Services
Plumtree is a not-for-profit organisation that provides support for young children aged birth to 8 years old with a developmental delay or disability and their families.
Plumtree’s vision is a society where children with disabilities and developmental delays, and their families, are supported to have a full life in the community.
Plumtree believes that every child with a disability or developmental delay has a right to participate in family and community life. The Plumtree culture is truly supportive, based on integrity, respect, flexibility and genuine caring for each other, our communities and the work they do in partnership with families.
Reframing Disability was auspiced by Plumtree alongside Reframing Autism.
Reframing Disability is a social movement of family peer-based leadership, by families for families, that aims to inspire a new generation of parents and carers with children who have developmental delay and disability to change outdated perspectives of disability.
Celeste Josephine Art
Celeste Josephine Art was commissioned to create the stunning watercolour artworks that we use at Reframing Autism.
A dreamer at heart, Celeste’s pieces are inspired by the thoughts and feelings swirling around inside her. Celeste describes each piece as a cathartic adventure.
Celeste is a neurodivergent mumma and solo parent of three Autistic sons who are beautifully, unapologetically unique. Her amazing boys have taught her so much about raw, real love and true patience. The flowing colours found throughout Celeste’s work serve as a reminder to stay flexible, allowing life to ebb and flow, whilst staying firmly grounded in mind and body.
Celeste’s work explores the fragility and breathtaking beauty of life, the loneliness and perpetual searching for a connection, the yearning to feel understood, the overwhelming love of motherhood.
Whether you are Autistic, you love someone Autistic, or you work with Autistic people, we want to hear from you.
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