Chair. BSc., MSc OT, PhD, HCPC Registered
Mellissa is a Senior Lecturer in Occupational Therapy at Brunel University in London. She is a children’s occupational therapist and her background prior to occupational therapy was in human movement science. She completed her PhD on handwriting difficulties in children with Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD), which she undertook at Oxford Brookes University under the guidance and supervision of Prof. Anna Barnett, Dr. Mandy Plumb and Dr. Kate Wilmut. She has worked in a variety of children’s services including independent practice since qualifying as an OT and specialises in working with children with coordination difficulties.
Mellissa runs a handwriting research clinic at Brunel University London.
Mellissa joined the NHA in 2010, has been a committee member since December 2013, and became chair in 2018. She is a member of the editorial team for the NHA journal, Handwriting Today.
Vice Chair. BSc (Hons.), PhD, CPsychol
Emma is a Lecturer in Psychology and Special Educational Needs at UCL, Institute of Education. She is a Chartered Psychologist and a specialist teacher and assessor of dyslexia (Associate Member of the British Dyslexia Association; AMBDA). Her research has focused on children with dyslexia, DCD, and those with an autism spectrum disorder; considering literacy development (spelling and handwriting) as well as the relationship between cognitive and motor skills. Prior to this role she completed her PhD in the Department of Psychology at Oxford Brookes University, where she explored the written skills of children and adults with dyslexia. Her PhD investigated the relationship between spelling, vocabulary and handwriting in individuals with and without dyslexia, using digital writing tablets to examine the writing process and product.
Emma joined the NHA as a committee member in December 2013. She is the Social Media Manager for the NHA and a member of the editorial team for the research section of the NHA journal, Handwriting Today.
Olivia is Senior Lecturer at Psychology at Oxford Brookes. Her research interests concern language processing in general and the writing production process in particular. In her investigation, she addresses how spelling and handwriting develop throughout the lifespan and how these abilities might be disrupted in children with literacy difficulties such as developmental dyslexia. One of her main interests is how these processes affect each other and how this mutual influence changes with age, producing complex patterns of ability. She is also interested in the differences between handwriting and typewriting from a cognitive and developmental perspective.
Dip. COT, HPC Registered
Catherine qualified in Occupational Therapy in 1983 and has worked predominantly in neurology, specialising in paediatrics since 1997. Catherine assesses and treats children experiencing difficulties at school or at home to optimise their functional and learning potential. She has extensive experience working with children with specific learning difficulties, including Developmental Coordination Disorder (Dyspraxia), Attention Deficit Disorder, Autistic Spectrum Disorder and Sensory Integration difficulty.
Catherine joined the NHA Committee in 2005.
Karen is currently an MSc Psychology student at Oxford Brookes University, having previously worked for over ten years as an editor, and volunteered as a teaching assistant at a school for children with specific learning difficulties. Although Karen’s own children had no specific learning difficulties, both struggled with handwriting development and this sparked her interest in cognitive and behavioural aspects of literacy acquisition. Parental experiences with regard to children’s handwriting experiences are a particular interest for Karen, and the subject of her MSc dissertation.
Karen joined the NHA in January 2021 and is Honorary Secretary.
BSc OT, MSc OT and Education, HCPC Registered
Lesley is a paediatric occupational therapist who has over 20 years experience in the NHS working in a range of community settings including home, school and a child development centre. She specialises in the assessment of how developmental conditions (such as DCD, dyslexia, hypermobility, ADHD, autism) impact on a child’s ability to access play, schoolwork, and self-care. She has a particular interest in supporting children with handwriting difficulties and has devised the OT Busy Hands programme inspired by the NHA course she attended many years ago.
Lesley is clinical lead for children with complex neuro-physical-learning disabilities who attend special schools, providing assessment and intervention in specialist seating, postural care, manual handling, and assistive technology/play. OT Busy Hands Extra Extra has been designed for children with multisensory needs.
Lesley joined the NHA committee as part of publications and inset training. She launched a regional NHA handwriting interest group for schools and health professionals. She enjoys her role as a private handwriting tutor.
BA (Hons), PGCE, SpLD, AMBDA
Amanda McLeod earned her PGCE at Froebel College and worked as an Early Years/KS1 teacher in both independent and maintained schools. She gained her Specialist Teacher status with Dyslexia Action, University of York, and founded The McLeod Centre for Learning, in Central London, in 2008. The Centre was awarded CReSTeD status in 2014 in recognition of its teaching of pupils with specific learning difficulties. Amanda lectures, in the UK and internationally, on touch-typing, handwriting, literacy, study skills and learning difficulties. She sits on the Advisory Board of The Independent School, West London. Amanda is lead author & consultant of the Scholastic Handwriting scheme (Reception to Year 6) and is currently developing a scheme with Usborne Publishing.
Amanda joined the NHA in 2009. She is one of their trainers and also their media representative.
DipCOT, HCPC Registered
Joanna is a paediatric occupational therapist who has over 20 years’ experience specialising in paediatrics having worked in community paediatric services, paediatric brain injury rehabilitation, two specialist schools for pupils with specific language impairment and numerous mainstream and special schools. Over the last 10 years she has worked in independent practice assessing and treating children in both mainstream and special schools within the state and independent sectors. Joanna also provides specialist assessments and evidence for SEND tribunals. Her specific areas of interest lie with children who have developmental co-ordination disorders (including dyspraxia), handwriting difficulties, sensory processing disorders and autistic spectrum disorders.
Joanna is a member of the NHA for INSET committee.
Lynsey teaches Psychology at Oxford Brookes University. She completed her PhD on the use of spellcheck by writers with dyslexia at Oxford Brookes University under the supervision of Prof. Vince Connelly, Prof. Anna Barnett and Dr. Olivia Afonso. For her PhD, she investigated the impact of spellcheck on spelling accuracy and the disruption that spellcheck causes to text production for individuals with and without dyslexia. While her own research has focussed on typing, Lynsey has also been involved in handwriting research. In particular, in her role as a research assistant, she has spent a lot of time analysing the process and product of handwriting completed with digital tablets by children with DLD. She has also been involved in research into movements of children with DCD and research into supporting children’s writing.
Lynsey began contributing to the research section of the NHA journal, Handwriting Today, in 2014, and became a committee member in 2021.
BSocSc, PGCE, MA, AMBDA
Emma is an experienced primary teacher and has taught pupils across the age range, from 3–11, for more than 25 years. Emma has worked as a lead literacy teacher for the local authority and led on literacy in two local primary schools.
In 2017, Emma undertook an MA in Specific Learning Difficulties (dyslexia) at UCL and has been working as a specialist literacy teacher in four local schools ever since. She focussed on best practice in the teaching of handwriting for her research project and is particularly interested in the style of handwriting children are introduced to early on, and when, and how, joining is introduced. In her role as a specialist teacher, Emma now works with pupils who are experiencing handwriting difficulties and offers support to pupils, families and school staff in this respect.
Emma became involved with the NHA as a result of her organisation of NHA training for a group of local schools in 2019, as well as her research project with Emma Sumner. She hopes to offer support with NHA training and events.
Cathy Parvin trained as a Registered General Nurse, an Orthopaedic Nurse and completed the Further and Adult Teachers Certificate (Course 730/7307). Following training and mentoring by the Dyspraxia Foundation, Cathy became the Education Officer (West Midlands) for the Dyspraxia Foundation in 2010, a funded two-year post delivering training in schools for teaching staff on dyspraxia. On completion of this project, Cathy was asked to continue as an “approved” trainer and advisor on the Educational Panel. Currently she is Director of Dyspraxia Education an organisation which supports children with dyspraxia/DCD in education. She is a visiting university lecturer for SENCo Award, PE, PGCE, BA honours and Early Years courses. She has delivered conference seminars and keynote speeches both nationally and in Europe.
Last year she was invited to help advise on the recent Initial Teacher Training on Neurodiversity programme for the Department of Education on behalf of the Dyspraxia Foundation. Cathy has a particular interest in helping children with handwriting difficulties and has developed handwriting interventions and resources to help them. She has also completed training with the National Handwriting Association in 2015.
BA (Hons), PGCE
Michelle is a Specialist Teacher for children with physical difficulties in the East Riding of Yorkshire. Michelle works with mainstream pupils who have physical needs/disabilities which includes supporting them to record their work in school. Michelle has a varied experience of working with mainstream SEN children. Her background before specialising in physical support was as an Early Years teacher in Hull and London and then becoming a Senior Teacher for a large inner city primary school in Leeds, before relocating to East Yorkshire. Michelle attended the 6 day NHA course in 2018 and was inspired to initiate a Handwriting Interest Group with some of the schools she supports. Michelle joined the NHA in 2020.