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.
BSc OT, MSc OT and Education, HCPC Registered
Lesley is a paediatric occupational therapist who has over 25 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, tailoring sessions to meet the individual child/young person’s interests and needs, praising effort as well as progress, and recognising that handwriting remains a powerful vehicle by which to enhance self-esteem, engagement with learning, participation in school life, and access study skills/revision.
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.
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.