Professional Expert Group

The members appointed are:

Nan Jensen – Barrister and Solicitor, QuinLaw Barristers and Solicitors

Nan grew up in New York City and her education and working life was in the financial sector. She moved to Denmark in 1988 and then to New Zealand in 1995. After a stint in the software industry as a translator and technical writer, Nan’s became interested in the disability sector after the diagnosis of her second son with autism.

Nan has been involved in the disability sector since 1998 and has held roles in governance, advisory, support parent, advocacy and employee capacities. Two of her four adult children are on the autism spectrum, and she decided to study law after taking a successful arbitration case against the Ministry of Education to retain ORRS funding for her son.

Nan was admitted to the bar in 2012 and practices in all areas of general and family law (except criminal) with a special interest in disability law. She is a Trustee of McKenzie Centre (Early Intervention Centre for children with special needs) and is on the Altogether Autism Consumer Reference Group. Nan has been running workshops about Disability Law for disabled people and their families as well as professionals. She is also a Director of The Disability Trustee Limited, a company that provides independent Trustee services for family trusts who have a beneficiary with a disability.

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 Kev Appleton is a Child, Adolescent and Adult Psychiatrist. Originally from Liverpool in the UK.

He trained in Medicine, General Practice and then Psychiatry in Yorkshire. He was Honorary Senior Lecturer and Consultant Child Psychiatrist at Leeds University Teaching Hospital.

He Emigrated to NZ in 2000 and was Service Clinical Director for Child and Adolescent Mental Health at Waitemata DHB. He established Starfish Clinic with Dr Yvette Ahmad. He has worked throughout NZ as visiting psychiatrist in Child and Adolescent Mental Health services. He has been Acting Clinical Head, CMDHB.

He has been expert advisor to Altogether Autism, Autism NZ and ADHD NZ. He was on the NZ Guidelines group for ASD and ADHD. Kevin has worked for ACC Sensitive Claims Unit for over 10 years. He is a medical writer and regular contributor to various publications.