Melanie Heyworth PhD
Melanie became interested in disability three years ago, when her eldest son was diagnosed with autism. In the subsequent years, her two other sons, and Melanie herself, have also been given an autism diagnosis.
In order to better understand the implications of her sons’ autism diagnoses, Melanie completed her postgraduate study in autism in 2015. She is a passionate champion of autism acceptance and inclusion, equity, neurodiversity, and listening to autistic voices. Although she home-schools her three boys, Melanie is deeply committed to helping families with school-aged children in their journey to experience genuinely inclusive schooling in educational institutions by promoting strengths- and gifts-based differentiated pedagogy.
In the past year, Melanie has joined a team of peer facilitators at Plumtree (a Sydney-based early intervention service), where she works (among other roles) to help parents to reframe their autism journeys to see the opportunity, the optimism, the hope, and the joy of parenting autistic children. Melanie believes in seeing our children as beautiful, not broken, and as different, not less, and wants every parent to see their child through the lens of their child’s strengths and gifts, and not defined by their deficits or diagnosis.
Before her children, Melanie was an early career academic in early Medieval Studies, with a passion for research and teaching. Now, Melanie utilizes those skills to support the important and innovative work that Plumtree is doing in the early intervention sector.