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About us

Helen Ortner

Professional profile

I believe that communication is fundamental and underpins emotional wellbeing. I'm a passionate advocate for young people who struggle to express themselves, understand why they are different or feel that they don't fit in.  I have worked with many complex children and young people with autism and/or speech, language and communication needs. Many of these have presented with extreme or challenging behaviours at home or school, whilst others have quietly masked their difficulties and anxieties for many years often resulting in poor mental health.  Each has a story to tell. An integral part of my role is to connect, helping them feel safe enough to communicate their true emotions and views.

I originally qualified as a Speech and Language Therapist, quickly broadening my skill set within the classroom, and learning how to deliver an accessible and meaningful curriculum to children and young people with additional needs. I have taught small groups and whole classes in language, social communication, thinking skills and life skills as well as co-led many National Curriculum subject lessons and Sexual and Relationship Education. I have a strong interest and expertise in young people with associated mental health needs and low self-esteem; a specialism in managing behaviour and improving social interaction skills and a focus upon working closely with parents and carers. Working within both mainstream and specialist settings from pre-school to post-16 provision has given me a detailed understanding of the social, emotional, academic and independence challenges of education.

During my diverse career, I have developed innovative provision,  experienced multiple aspects of education and managed staff teams including teachers, therapists and support assistants. I have been a senior manager in several roles, including over 8 years as Deputy Principal in an independent specialist college for highly complex young people on the autistic spectrum. I have also worked with many adopted and looked after children, and am an adoptive parent myself, so can bring both a parental and professional perspective to the challenges involved.

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