Professional Expert Group

The members appointed are:

Tanya Breen M. Soc. Sc. (1st hons.); Dip. Psyc. (Clin.); MNZPsS; MICP

As a consultant clinical psychologist in private practice in New Zealand, Tanya Breen often appears as an expert witnesses in criminal cases where autistic people are charged with criminal acts. She also undertakes autism diagnosis, assessment and intervention/support with individuals and their families, and provides professionals with autism training. Tanya is well-known for her work on the New Zealand Autism Spectrum Disorder Guideline, her role in the development of Altogether Autism, and her work with the Ministry of Health on a range of other autism related topics. Tanya is currently working towards the degree of Doctor of Health Science, where she is researching autism and legal proceedings.

  Peter W. Dowrick – PhD

Peter is Professor Emeritus at the University of Alaska and the University of Hawaii. He has wide experience working with people marginalised by culture, disability, mental health, and other considerations. In recognition of this work, he was awarded  in the Distinguished Contribution to the Practice of Community Psychology by the American Psychological Association Division 27,

Peter’s hands-on consultation on prevention and intervention extends from Aotearoa New Zealand, Great Britain, Canada, many states across the USA, plus Micronesia and American Samoa, to Liberia (for United Nations worldwide literacy), with consultation-from-a-distance to another 17 countries.

He is internationally recognised as the ‘father of video self-modelling’, and the concepts of feed forward learning from the future, and creating futures. His 130+ publications (books, chapters, articles, films, videos, web pages) and his theoretical contributions derive from applied research in autism, mental illness, social behavior, personal safety, sports and recreation, daily living, literacy, academic skills, health, jobs, and professional training, collaborating with some 100 agencies.

  Estelle Pretorius – Speech Language Therapist

Estelle works as an Early Intervention Specialist at McKenzie Centre in Hamilton, New Zealand. She works as a specialist consultant with families attending the McKenzie Centre with children who present with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Social Communication Difficulties, as well as other communication delays resulting from developmental delays or motor disorders.

Estelle, together with the team from McKenzie Centre, provide specialist early intervention programs for parents with children who have an Autism spectrum disorder or social communication disorder. These programmes provide insight and understanding into the challenges and strengths of ASD, but also teach parents effective strategies to promote communication and interaction with their children.

Estelle is passionate about finding the best tools to understand and develop functional skills in engagement, communication and social interaction, and thereby realise the child’s potential.

Dr Kevin Appleton – MB.ChB, JCVTGP(UK), M.Med.Sc, MRCPsych, ARANCP.

Dr Kevin Appleton is a UK trained Psychiatrist and a founding director of the Starfish Clinic New Zealand. Kevin originally specialised in general practice, gaining a wide range of experience in Paediatrics, Obstetrics & Gynaecology, general medicine, infectious diseases accident & emergency and surgery. He developed a special interest in Psychiatry & Psychological Medicine in Primary Care, and trained as an adult Psychiatrist and then as a child and adolescent psychiatrist. He was Tutor in Psychiatry to Professor David Sims at The Department of Psychiatry, and a research Senior.

Kevin was Registrar to Professor David Cottrell in the Academic Unit of Child and Adolescent Mental Health at Leeds University, UK. He gained a Post Graduate Degree of Master of Medical Science Degree in Psychiatry at Leeds University. He has published original research in peer reviewed journals and has also been a medical author contributing articles and chapters.

Prior to emigrating to New Zealand, he held a position as Consultant Child Psychiatrist and Honorary Senior Lecturer at Leeds University Teaching Hospital. On arrival in NZ he worked as Clinical Director for Waitemata Health Auckland with a portfolio of services including Child and Adolescent Mental Health, Maternal Mental Health, Early Intervention (Psychosis) Service and Family Therapy. Kevin has also worked as a visiting Psychiatrist to mental health services throughout New Zealand including Kaupapa Maori Services, and is currently a Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist at Whirinaki, Middlemore Hospital in Auckland.