Laura Millen Memorial Award


We are happy to share that the winner of the 2015 Laura Millen Memorial Award is Heather Crawford MBE. Heather's work as a Speech and Language Therapist and her involvement with individuals with Autism has made her a very worthy winner of this award. 

Heather Crawford has within her extensive career made a mark on services for individuals with ASD within the sphere of speech & language therapy as well as across the public sector and into the Thrd Sector. Heather was one of a small group of professionals that pioneered interest in ASD in the 1980's - joining forces with parents to later form Northern Ireland's Autism Charity (PAPA) and influencing generations of colleagues to develop skills to specialise in this area of work.

Part of that skills development meant researching, identifying and implementing international best practice for Autism services (such as TEACCH) alongside colleagues from Education and PAPA which came to form foundation training which has become accepted and integrated across all disciplines.

Heather was therefore associated with the first positive ASD specific intervention and training to be carried out ever in Northern Ireland.

In 2003, Heather co-authored a number of key practical resources for families living with Autism including a series of booklets that are timeless as has been proven by the fact that they are still a resource for early intervention services today.

She has published paper in professional journals on the issue of early intervention and her skills as a trainer are well utilised by her agency and others.

Above all, Heather is known for her commitment to multidisciplinary collaboration and her 'can do' personality has generated multiple creative partnerships over the years.

About the Award

The Board, Chief Executive Dr Arlene Cassidy and the staff at Autism NI as well as Laura's family created the 'Laura Millen Memorial Award' to acknowledge and honour the exceptional work of Speech and Language Therapists. The award is recognised by The College of Speech and Language Therapists and they have also been involved in the selection process.

Laura Millen was a member of Autism NI Board of Directors (Secretary) and she was also a valued and committed member of the Northern Ireland TEACCH Training Study Group. Laura was generous with her time and skills and was always willing to help whatever the task. Laura was also a Speech and Language Therapist at Hillcroft School, Newtownabbey, this was a job she loved and both teachers and pupils enjoyed her contribution to school life over several years. She very much enjoyed working with young individuals with Autism and was always delighted with their achievements. Laura will be remembered for her sense of humour, gentleness and sincerity.

Please find attached a form at the bottom of the page, if you would like to nominate a worthy candidate.