Skip to content

Our team is passionate about working with families to provide them with the best evidence-based approaches in a highly supportive environment, to ensure children reach their full potential. Our team has a wealth of experience in working with children in the early years – particularly children with autism. 

The CliniKids therapy team is made up of qualified health professionals including Speech Pathologists, Psychologists and Occupational Therapists. Our therapy team is supported by a Clinical Services Manager and Family Coordinator. Our Family Coordinator works closely with families to help them navigate funding pathways and provides information to assist them while using our service. 

The CliniKids team works very closely with the internationally-renowned Autism Research Team at Telethon Kids Institute to collaborate on clinical research projects and translate interventions into clinical practice.

Professor Andrew Whitehouse:

Director 

Andrew Whitehouse is the Angela Wright Bennett Professor of Autism Research at the Telethon Kids Institute and Professor of Autism Research at The University of Western Australia. He is Chief Research Officer of the Cooperative Research Centre for Living with Autism (Autism CRC) and Adjunct Professor at Curtin University and Edith Cowan University. He has also been awarded Australia’s most prestigious scientific award, the Eureka Prize.

At the Telethon Kids Institute he leads a large team that use a wide range of methodologies to investigate the early identification and intervention of children with Autism Spectrum Conditions, including molecular genetics, neuroscience, endocrinology, behavioural experiments and clinical trials. Andrew has published over 150 peer-reviewed journal articles and attracted over $35 million in competitive research grants. He currently presents an internationally syndicated video series called ’60 Second Science”, which has been viewed by over 1 million people. He is an advisor to State and Commonwealth Governments on policies relating to children with Autism Spectrum Conditions, and he chaired the committee that generated Australia’s first national guideline for autism diagnosis.

Gemma Upson:

General Manager

Gemma is the General Manager of CliniKids, responsible for the strategic creation and development of CliniKids, along with the operational management. Gemma has extensive experience in running clinical services for all ages in private, public and research settings.

Through her previous role as Head of Clinical Services at Ear Science Institute, which she held for 12 years, she specialised in the niche audiology areas of hearing implants (including cochlear implants), vestibular, and paediatric diagnostic services.  Over her tenure this unit was established, developed and expanded to be the third largest hearing implant program in Australia and recognised world-wide for its’ clinical expertise and research into clinical outcomes.

Gemma holds a Bachelor of Science and a Masters in Audiology, both from University of Western Australia. Gemma holds an Adjunct Research Fellow position in the School of Surgery, University of Western Australia and is a member of the National Disability Services’ Clinical and Allied Health Subcommittee. She is passionate about leading and developing high performing teams and systems to deliver exceptional care to children and families in the health and disability industry.

Dr Katia Haines:

Clinical Services Manager 

Katia is the Clinical Services Manager and is responsible for shaping the direction of the clinical services and supporting the highly qualified and experienced team of CliniKids clinicians. Katia combines her almost 20 years’ experience working with children with autism and their families with the most up to date clinical practices to provide high quality interventions that improve quality of life for the whole family system. After identifying a need for a more holistic early intervention process that involves families in planning, implementation and review, Katia completed her Masters/PhD in Clinical Psychology and uses her therapeutic and research skills in her daily practice when working with children and families and when supporting her team.

Katia’s passion for empowering caregivers to support their child’s social, emotional and psychological development ensures that provision of family-focused support remains the focus of the CliniKids mission, and she is proud to be working with a team that share the same vision. 

Erica Fay:

Research Services Manager

Erica is the Research Services Manager of CliniKids, responsible for the operations of the research programs at CliniKids, along with oversight of occupational health and safety and governance processes within the team. Erica has extensive experience in research and higher education management at West Australian and international universities.

Erica holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the University of Western Australia and her career to date had largely been focused within leadership and management in higher education. Erica's keen interest in psychology and research that makes a meaningful impact, led her to join the Autism Research team in 2017. CliniKids is in a particularly exciting phase with the merging of clinical practice and research. As Research Services Manager, Erica particularly enjoys facilitating the development of the resources and people that enable knowledge translation into action.

Sarah Pillar:

Research Project Manager

Sarah is a Research Project Manager at CliniKids, responsible for the practical implementation and completion of research projects. Sarah has a Bachelor of Speech Pathology (Hons) from Edith Cowan University, and is a Certified Practicing Speech Pathologist. She is currently undertaking her PhD studies at the University of Western Australia. Sarah’s clinical work led her to a passion for working with children with Autism, particularly within early intervention.

Sarah joined the Autism research team in 2017, seeking to blend clinical knowledge with high quality research. Sarah has been involved with a number of research studies within the team, and has also worked clinically as a Speech Pathologist within the clinical service. Her career focus is to contribute to finding real-word, effective interventions to support families with children developing differently.

Dr Melissa Licari:

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Melissa is the inaugural Angela Wright Bennett Postdoctoral Fellow in Autism Research at the Telethon Kids Institute. She is currently leading a program of research within the team investigating the clinical presentation and intervention for movement-related difficulties in children with neurodevelopmental disorders.

Melissa sits on the board for Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) Australia Inc., the Australian DCD Alliance, and is the Australian representative on the working board for the International Society for Research into DCD. She is leading a national advocacy project (the Impact for DCD Initiative) working to improve awareness and support of movement-related difficulties, including identification and diagnostic practice and delivery of evidence-based interventions. She co-directs two remedial movement programs at the University of Western Australia; MiniGym and UniGym. She has also authored a children’s book (‘Sometimes I Find It Hard to Move My Body’).   

Melissa holds an honours degree in Science (University of Western Australia), and completed her doctoral studies examining involuntary movements in neurodevelopmental conditions (University of Western Australia). She has over ten years’ experience working as a lecturer and researcher, along with over 15 years clinical experience coordinating and directing movement programs for children with neurodevelopmental disorders.

 Dr Gail Alvares: 

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Gail completed a Bachelor of Psychology with first class honours and the University Medal at the University of Sydney in 2009. She was awarded a PhD(Medicine) at the Brain & Mind Research Institute, University of Sydney in 2015.

Gail has worked as a clinical research coordinator, facilitating projects investigating the effects of intranasal oxytocin to treat social impairments in a variety of psychiatric disorders, including youth with autism spectrum disorders. She joined the Autism Research Team in 2014 with a wide variety of interests related to autism research, including novel treatments and eye-tracking methods of assessment. 

As part of the Autism Research Team, Gail previously coordinated the Australian Autism Biobank, developed and tested an iPad game (‘Frankie and Friends’) for children with autism, and is currently leading a study of predictors of outcomes in adolescents and adults diagnosed on the WA Autism Register.

Dr Kiah Evans:

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Kiah is a Post Doctoral Fellow on our research team and also coordinates the Autism CRC project to develop Australia’s first national guideline for autism diagnosis

Prior to this, Kiah was a researcher within the Curtin Autism Research Group, where she was involved in evaluating the Specialist Peer Mentoring Program. Kiah holds an honours degree in occupational therapy (Curtin University), and completed her doctoral research on how working mothers and carers balance their multiple roles (Edith Cowan University). She has over ten years experiencing working as a lecturer, researcher and project manager within an academic setting, along with over five years clinical and managerial experience within the public and private work rehabilitation sector.

Dr Diana Tan: 

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Diana is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Telethon Kids Institute and the School of Psychological Science in the University of Western Australia. Her current research aims to further our understanding of the mechanisms underlying the development of autism and to investigate early markers (e.g., facial shapes, eye-tracking, etc) that could support an earlier identification of children with autism.

Diana completed her PhD in Psychology from the University of Western Australia in 2018. Her PhD research centred on the identification of facial markers associated with autism using novel and innovative methods (e.g., 3D face scanning) which involved a multi-disciplinary team comprising experts from computer science, endocrinology, and psychology.

Dr Lauren Taylor:

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Lauren is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow and Clinical Psychologist on our team. She is also the Lecturer and joint Course Coordinator of the Graduate Certificate in Autism Diagnosis, Australia’s first tertiary-level programme for training health professionals in the assessment and diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder. Lauren holds a Masters in Clinical Psychology and PhD from the University of Western Australia. She is a registered psychologist with endorsement in the area of clinical psychology and a member of the Australian Psychological Society.

Lauren brings over 15 years’ of clinical experience in working with children, adolescents and adults with autism and their families, across early intervention, school and residential settings. After completing her PhD, she ran a joint Autism CRC-DSS project that investigated the diagnostic practices for autism in Australia. This project provided evidence of inconsistent diagnostic practices across the nation and led to the development of the Australian National Guidelines for Autism Assessment. She subsequently spent 3½ years based at King’s College London, in the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, where she led the London arm of the Paediatric Autism Communication Trial-Generalised (PACT-G). PACT-G is a randomised controlled trial of a parent-mediated social communication intervention for children with autism.

Lauren’s interests lie in clinical research that embeds evidence-based interventions into services for people with autism. She has a particular passion for supporting people with autism who have complex clinical presentations, and their families.

Georgia Cunningham:

Clinical Lead

Georgia is a Speech Pathologist with a passion for supporting people with a disability, in particular autism Spectrum Disorders.  In addition to her Speech Pathology qualification, she holds a Masters Degree in Autism Studies, during which she investigated inclusive education for students with Autism and the biggest predictors of successful inclusion in mainstream settings. 

Georgia has a strong interest in promoting autism awareness and understanding in the wider community which has lead to a number of community presentations including autism awareness and support strategies for the general public,  Department of Education, Catholic Education Office, Western Australian Police Force and the West Australian Dental Health Association. She has also presented at the Speech Pathology Australia conference and AGOSCI. 

She has a particular interest in complex communication, including the use of Augmentative and Alternative Communication systems for people with Autism across the lifespan.  She has previously worked in a specialist AAC team, prescribing and implementing communication systems for people with autism across the lifespan. Georgia is accredited in a number of treatment approaches such as Early Start Denver Model (ESDM), Preschool Autism Communication Therapy (PACT), KONTAKT, Hanen programs, Triple P Stepping Stones and diagnostic tools such as the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS-2). In her role as Clinical Lead, Georgia co-leads and supports the clinical team and oversees the development of clinical activities. 

 

Abby Chee:

Clinical Psychologist

Abby is a Clinical Psychologist with an interest in working with children and their families. She holds a Bachelor of Science (Psychology) Honours from University of Western Australia and a Master of Psychology (Clinical) from Curtin University. She is a trained autism assessor, with experience in Applied Behavioural Analysis therapy, and has worked with many children with developmental delays. Her experience in working with children includes providing assessments and interventions in a variety of settings including Child Development Service, Multisystemic Therapy – Specialised CAMHS, and private autism service. Abby enjoys helping children with emotional and behavioural difficulties and helping parents to support their children’s development and mental health.  

Aria May:

Speech Pathologist

Aria is a specialist Speech Pathologist who has over 10 years’ experience working within paediatric community, school-based and hospital settings in Perth and in London. Aria has a passion for working in the disability sector, specifically in the area of autism. Aria works in a multidisciplinary framework and strives to empower families and schools to develop their capacity and skills to achieve best outcomes using a family centred holistic approach. Aria has worked with infants, children and young adults that have a range of developmental differences. Aria is trained in a number of approaches and assessment tools including iBASIS, the SCERTS® Model for Autism, Intensive Interaction, Hanen, Verve Child Interaction, JASPER, Specialist Infant Dysphagia Accreditation and autism diagnostics.  Aria has a specific interest in alternative and augmentative communication (AAC) supports, engaging families, advocacy for young people with disabilities and supporting relationships (including social skills) and emotional regulation for young people with autism. The best part of Aria’s work is supporting children and families achieve their goals and reach their full potential.

Marie Rodatz: 

Occupational Therapist

Marie is an Occupational Therapist with over 15 years’ experience working with children with Autism. She holds a Bachelor and Master in Occupational Therapy. For her Master degree, she researched the process of collaborative consultation between teachers and Occupational Therapists working with children with Autism.

Marie has gathered experience as an Occupational Therapist in Germany, Ireland, the USA and Australia. During her career Marie has been working with pre-school and school aged children with Autism and developmental delay.

She has presented at Occupational Therapy conferences and has presented a lecture on ‘Occupational Therapy and Autism’ to Occupational Therapy students in Ireland.  

Marie enjoys having fun with children in direct sessions and working collaboratively with parents throughout the process.  Marie has a particular interest in understanding sensory challenges children with Autism experience and assisting children in becoming independent with activities of daily living. 

Sally Grauaug:

Speech Pathologist

Sally is a specialist Speech Pathologist who is passionate about working with children with a range of abilities, including children with Autism.She has extensive experience in providing early intervention and school age services as part of multidisciplinary teams in Perth and London. Sally believes in supporting children to achieve meaningful and functional goals and prides herself in working in partnership with families to support children to reach their full potential.

Sally holds a Bachelor of Speech Pathology (Hons) from Curtin University, and is a Certified Practicing Speech Pathologist. Sally is trained in a range of approaches such as SCERTS, PACT, Hanen, Lego-Based Therapy, Intensive Interaction, PECS, Social Thinking and Positive Behaviour Support. She is committed to delivering services in innovative ways and providing evidence-based services to children and their families in Western Australia.

Fiona Ledger:

Speech Pathologist

Fiona is a certified practising speech pathologist who has many years of experience working with children within clinical and community settings. She has a passion for supporting families throughout their journey and has a strong focus on family centred practice. Fiona brings a strong knowledge base of developmental challenges and diagnostic skills and is very focused on providing support and intervention that can be delivered by the family across all environments, and not just in a clinical setting.

Fiona holds a Master of Speech Pathology, and a Bachelor Degree in Special Education. Fiona has specialist knowledge in the field of diagnostics, autism and developmental difficulties. She is trained in a range of programs including Hanen, DIR Floor Time, Social Thinking and PACT.

Fiona is passionate about facilitating an integrated approach to providing support to the whole family to meet their individualised goals.

Rebecca Eaton:

Clinical Psychologist

Rebecca is a Clinical Psychologist responsible for the provision of therapeutic services to children and families here at CliniKids.  She is skilled in providing family focused interventions to support children with autism with improving emotional regulation and has extensive experience in assisting families work through commonly presenting concerns such as anxiety, aggression or defiance. By developing a strong therapeutic alliance with children and families coupled with evidence-based practice Rebecca aims to develop therapeutic goals which are in collaboration with the family and aimed at improving quality of life and overall functioning.

Alena Clark: 

Project Coordinator

Alena is a Project Coordinator within the CliniKids team. In this role, Alena coordinates and oversees the day to day management of research projects. Alena holds a Bachelor of Health Science (BHSc) degree from the University of Western Australia.

Alena started with the team in 2012, and has worked on a range of clinical trials, looking at Fish Oil supplementation in children with Autism, ipad based therapy applications and other interventions.

Claire Hafekost:

Research Assistant

Claire is a Research Assistant working on the ENGAGE Baby AICES study at CliniKids. She is involved in the data collection component of the study, including administering assessments to study participants.

Claire graduated from Curtin University with a Bachelor of Education in 2011.  After working in schools for a number of years she joined Telethon Kids Institute in October 2015, working as a Research Assistant and Project Officer on various studies before joining the Autism Research Team in 2018. During her time as a teacher, Claire saw how developmental difficulties could limit a child’s ability to participate, interact and learn. Claire enjoys being part of an organisation which seeks out solutions that allow young people to achieve both academically and socially. 

Sasha Johnston:

Research Assistant

Sasha is a Research Assistant at CliniKids, working on a project bridging the gap between research and practice. Sasha has a passion for supporting children and families, having spent over 10 years working in the early childhood sector in both Australia and New Zealand. Before joining CliniKids, Sasha was a Case Manager for the Family Support Network’s Intensive Case Management Service, providing in-home parenting education and wrap-around support to families at risk of child protection involvement. Sasha holds a Bachelor of Arts (Education Studies) from the University of Otago (NZ), and has previously worked on research projects in both social geography and gender studies.

Jemima Robinson Lake:

Research Assistant

Jemima is a Research Assistant at CliniKids, responsible for contributing to the team through high quality research. In her previous role as Program Coordinator and Group Facilitator at Autism West she worked closely with children, adolescents and young adults with autism and their families. She has key interests in children’s health and early development and translating research findings into clinical practice to ensure children receive the most up-to-date, evidence-based interventions. Jemima holds a Bachelor of Science (Psychology) and a Master’s of Public Health from the University of Western Australia.

Tracy Storen:

Receptionist

Tracy has over 20 years’ experience in customer service, she has worked with various community based companies such as Silver Chain, Medibank Health Solutions, Diabetes Association and has also had Receptionist & Administration roles with a Podiatrist and Physiotherapist. Tracy is very passionate about working within a company/institute that cares about their clients especially children. As well as many years of customer service experience Tracy has worked as a leisure instructor teaching children sport, art and dance classes within the community. This lead her to running her own business for many years where she taught 18 month – 5-year olds from all walks of life including some with developmental delays. Tracy will assist you with any of your queries about CliniKids as well as booking in appointments with our Therapist.