The judging panel consist of leading experts in the field of autism from a variety of professional backgrounds across the UK.


Gillian Baird

Professor Gillian Baird
Consultant Paediatrician
Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust and Professor of Paediatric Neurodisability, King's College London

Saskia Baron
Documentary maker and journalist

Carole Buckley
GP and Clinical Champion for Autism The Royal College of General Practitioners


Adam Feinstein

Adam Feinstein
Writer, Autism Researcher, Editor of Awares and Looking Up magazine

Yolanta Lasota
Chief Executive Ambitious about Autism

Cos Michael
Autism and ageing consultant and autistic speaker

John Phillipson

John Phillipson
Chief Executive
North East Autism Society

Robyn Steward

Robyn Steward
Trainer, Speaker, Mentor and Autism Consultant

Clive Stobbs OBE
Chief Executive Autism Anglia

Charlene Tate

Charlene Tait
Director of Development
Scottish Autism

Rona Tutt OBE

Dr Rona Tutt OBE
Independent Consultant





Saskia Baron is a journalist and filmmaker, with over twenty years’ experience of making documentaries for the BBC and C4.  She specialises in history, arts, cinema and medical ethics. One of her BBC films, ‘The Autism Puzzle’, features her autistic older brother Timothy and her father, Michael Baron, who was one of the founding parent of the NAS. It has been shown in over thirty countries.  Saskia campaigns for greater awareness of the challenges of ageing with autism and intellectual disabilities. She is currently writing a book tracking the lives of the first generation to be diagnosed with ASD in the 1960s.

Aged 50, after careers in theatre, television production and project management, Cos was diagnosed with autism. A year later she was working for the NAS, where she managed the Autism in Maturity and Autism and Ageing Projects. The latter produced a range of resources, including a report, handbook for support professionals and a guide for clinicians. Short films featuring ageing adults with autism and filmed interviews with academics and clinicians were made for NAS training. The Passport to Individual Autism Support informs professionals about the needs of the bearer.

Cos is now a freelance consultant, writer and trainer; and an autistic speaker. She is a project consultant for the Autism Spectrum, Adulthood and Ageing Project research team, based at Newcastle University; and member of the Science Advisory Group at Autistica. In collaboration with Carol Povey, Cos has recently contributed to a book, “The Challenge and Promise of Autism and Aging” and writes a blog on her website, Autism Age.

Jolanta has been Chief Executive of Ambitious about Autism since 2009. Previously she was the founding Chief Executive of Turn2us, a new charity that helps people in financial need access the money they are entitled to. She was also the Head of the Governance Hub, the national body charged with supporting the development of third sector governance. She also worked as a Director of I CAN, the charity that helps children and young people with speech, language and communication difficulties.  Jolanta is the Chair of the Autism Education Trust and the Chair of SEND Consortium which runs the service SENDirect. She has a passion for enabling children, young people and families affected by disability to live the life they choose.

Clive Stobbs OBE worked for 37 years in the City of London in the financial money markets, as the Chief Foreign Exchange Dealer of a Japanese bank and later in senior positions with four international money broking companies.

He has been involved with Autism Anglia (which was called The Essex Autistic Society until 2008) since 1983. His retirement from the City in 2002 coincided with a problem arising in the society’s school and he was employed for a year as General Manager running the educational services. In 2003, after the school had come out of ‘Special Measures’, he replaced the charity’s retiring Chief Executive.

Clive is Chair of Essex Police’s Colchester & Tendring Independent Advisory Group which acts as a link between the police and local voluntary organisations and is an active member of the Essex Strategic IAG.
He is a Trustee/Director of the Autism Alliance UK which is a network of eighteen specialist autism charities from across the UK.

Clive was honoured to be invited by the Dept of Health to join the Autism External Reference Group to advise the Dept and the Secretary of State for Health through the consultation and production stages of ‘Fulfilling and Rewarding lives’ the National Adult Autism Strategy for England . He chaired the group that looked at training.

Clive and Autism Anglia were very proud when he was awarded an OBE in the 2014 Queen’s Birthday honours list for ‘Services to people with autism’.

A GP since 1986 and currently in partnership in Bristol, Carole has been the GP member on the NICE guideline development groups for Autism in adults and the management of autism in children and young people along with the recently released guideline on Learning Disability and challenging behaviour. The Royal College of General Practitioners made autism a clinical priority from April 2014 to March 2017 and Carole was appointed to the role of clinical champion. She is on the Research Autism scientific and advisory committee and the RCGP Intellectual Disability Professional Network.

She has a son on the Autistic spectrum giving a more personal and unique insight into the challenges posed by ASD.

Dr Rona Tutt OBE is a Past President of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT). She has taught pupils of all ages in state and independent, day and residential, mainstream and special schools. A former head teacher of an outstanding special school, she was asked by the local authority to establish the first provision in Hertfordshire for children on the autism spectrum. She is a winner of the Leadership in Teaching Award, and has received an OBE for her services to special needs education. She has an MA in Linguistics and a PhD in the education of children with autism.

Rona has represented the NAHT on the Expert Reference Group of the Autism Education Trust (AET) since its inception. She was on the Expert Group for the Salt Review (2009-10) and the Steering Board for the Complex Learning Difficulties and Disabilities (CLDD) Research Project (2009-11). In 2011, she was one of the module managers for the complex needs online training materials. Also last year, with Francesca Happe and Barry Carpenter, she helped to establish the National Forum for Neuroscience in Special Education, whose patron is Ute Frith.

Rona is chair of governors at a school for profoundly deaf pupils and vice chair at a secondary school for students with autism, moderate learning difficulties (MLD) and speech, language and communication needs (SLCN). She has written or co-authored several books on education and she is much in demand as an SEND consultant, speaker, writer, reviewer and judge.

Charlene Tait has worked in the field of autism for over twenty years. In that time she has been engaged in direct practice, was lecturer and Course Director in Postgraduate Autism studies at the University of Strathclyde and has been involved in a number of national strategic initiatives. Charlene’s time in autism began in 1990 with Scottish Autism (then Scottish Society for Autistic Children), she has recently returned to the organisation to take up the post of Director of Development. Her main areas of interest are in family support and enabling quality of life and quality lifestyles for people across the autism spectrum.
Robyn Steward is 25 years old and has Asperger’s syndrome and 9 other disabilities.  Robyn left school at the age of 15 (end of year 10) with no GCSE’s, she spent 5 years in college and then a year in University before she left to become freelance.  Robyn’s career highs include speaking at the launch of the autism bill and appearing on BBC Breakfast.  Robyn is an international trainer, she participates in many different projects in the UK.  In addition to training, Robyn is also a Consultant and mentor, she is an artist and aims to provide Asperger’s from a person not just a textbook.
John Phillipson has been involved in social care and education since 1975.  He has managed a very wide range of services having worked as an Assistant Director with Barnardos North East for several years before joining North Tyneside L.E.A. as Manager for S.E.N.  John went on to be Head of Children’s Services and latterly Director of Social Services in North Tyneside. Since 2005 he has been Chief Executive at the North East Autism Society where services are being modernised and transformed to improve outcomes for children with A.S.C.

Adam Feinstein is a writer, autism researcher and Hispanist. He is the editor of the autism-related website, Awares ( - run by Autism Cymru, Wales’s pioneering national charity for autism - and is the editor of the international autism magazine, Looking Up (, which he founded in 1998. 

Every November, Feinstein runs the annual Awares international online autism conference at - the largest of its kind anywhere (with more than sixty top experts and thousands of delegates online), which Professor Simon Baron-Cohen has called ‘the finest online conference on the planet.’  Feinstein also runs monthly one-day online seminars on the same Awares conference site. Speakers so far have included Dr Lorna Wing, Professor Gary Mesibov, Dr Wendy Lawson and Carol Gray. Among the forthcoming presenters of one-day online seminars at are Professor Uta Frith, Professor Rita Jordan, Theo Peeters and Hilde de Clercq.

Wiley-Blackwell published Feinstein’s latest book, A History of Autism: Conversations with the Pioneers, in the UK and the USA in 2010. He has a 19-year-old son, Johnny, with autism.

Feinstein is also the author of the acclaimed biography, Pablo Neruda: A Passion for Life, published by Bloomsbury in the UK and the USA in 2004.

Dr Gillian Baird is a paediatrician and has led the neurodisability clinical service at the Newcomen Centre for Developmental Medicine for a number of years. This service has a high reputation for the work that it does with families, and for the way in which a clinical service has been combined with academic research, (Gillian is chair in paediatric Neurodisability at King’s College London).

Since 1994 she has participated in a large number of research studies, both as a collaborator and principal investigator. Her research has been driven by the desire to answer clinical questions that will be of benefit to children with disabilities and their families.  The nature of her work in neurodisability dictates that the research is entirely clinically based.   Gillian’s research interests and publications have been wide-ranging across the field of paediatric neurodisability, including children with cerebral palsy, epilepsy, autism, language disorder and developmental coordination disorder. Gillian has also worked on the development of instruments for screening and diagnosis of autism and related disorders. Her work has involved collaborations with colleagues from several other disciplines, including psychiatry, psychology and genetics, sustained over time. They have led a large cohort study in autism (SNAP) and in cerebral palsy (SH&PE), both unique because they are population representative and can form the basis of ongoing research into transition to adult life. Their studies have informed national screening programs for autism and cerebral palsy.

Gillian is Chair of the British Academy of Childhood Disability; and chairs the NICE guideline on autism in children and young people and is on the guideline development group of the Adult NICE ASD guideline. Gillian is also on the working groups for Neurodevelopmental disorders for the DSM-5 and ICD11.