The Team

All members of The Ark Centre team are committed to providing each child that attends sessions with us the support and dedicated care they need to flourish. Our team of Behaviour, Occupational and Speech and Language Therapists are experienced and fully trained and are responsible for both designing and delivering the therapy programmes on offer at The Ark Centre.

Find out more about each member of the team, below…

Emma Flaxman BCBA – Centre Manager

Whilst studying for her BSc (Hons) in Psychology, in 2010 Emma started work on a PEACH home-based VB/ABA programme. She now has 10 years experience of working with children with autism /social communication difficulties. Emma has worked with children from 18months to 11years but now specialises in early years.

In July 2019 Emma graduated from Kent University with a 1st in Applied Behaviour Analysis and continued to pass her consultancy exam in February 2020. Emma is now a fully qualified and registered Board-Certified Behaviour Analyst.

Emma and her colleagues opened The Ark Centre in June 2015 as the first therapy centre for children with autism in Essex and surrounding areas. Emma is a co-founder and the centre manager. She provides 1:1 therapy for the children in the clinic, parent training, programme supervision and managing the day to day running of the centre. As part of The Ark Centre’s outreach service Emma offers consultancy for a number of home programmes, schools and nurseries.

As well as having her academic and practical background in ABA Emma has worked collaboratively with Speech and Language Therapists and Occupational Therapists in a multi-disciplinary team for the last 5 years.

Emma prides herself in being able to adapt her teaching techniques to engage a variety of children with different needs and loves her hands-on work with her clients.

Jane McKean – Speech and Language Therapist

Jane is a double national award-winning Speech and Language Therapist, with extensive experience in paediatric Speech and Language. Having qualified with a Joint Honours degree in Psychology and Speech Pathology in 2000, Jane has worked within the NHS before setting up “Let’s Talk” in 2009.

Having worked collaboratively on integrated therapeutic programmes in the past, Jane has a particular interest in ASD, Verbal Dyspraxia and Speech and Language Delay/Disorders.

Jane has a Level 1 qualification in TalkTools and is a Signalong and Hanen tutor. She also formed part of the Steering Group for the Grove House School, a specialist SLT free school in Brentwood.

Jane joined The Ark Centre in April 2015.

Christina White – Occupational Therapist

Christina graduated from The University of Southampton is 2003, qualified as an Occupational Therapist, and has completed post-graduate qualifications in Sensory Integration Therapy and Bobath Therapy.

She has worked in a variety of hospital and community settings over the past 12 years, with both adults and children, but decided in 2009 that she would specialise in paediatrics – in particular working with children who have sever autism and sensory processing difficulties.

Since then, Christina has worked with children aged 0-19 years of age, supporting them with a range of physical and learning difficulties.

Christina has worked with The Ark Centre since September 2015.

Niall Conlon – BCBA

Niall Conlon is a Board Certified Behaviour Analyst (BCBA) who has worked as an independent consultant with the Health, Education and Social Care sectors since September 2017.  He completed the MSc Psychology (ABA) in Trinity College Dublin in 2011. He is currently completing his PhD at London South Bank University where he is researching organisational and staff training factors related to the successful implementation of PBS and ABA.

Niall has been a committee member of the Psychology Society of Ireland’s Division of Behaviour Analysis and was the division’s media liaison. He was a founding member of ABA Ireland and a member of the UK Society for Behaviour Analysis.

Niall began working with children with autism in 2009. He worked for three years as an ABA tutor at the Applied Behaviour Analysis School for Children with Autism in Kilbarrack Dublin before moving to St. Catherine’s Association in Wicklow where he worked as an ABA supervisor. In 2013, he began working as an ABA consultant with Ambitious About Autism’s Treehouse School in London before leaving to help set up the REAL Focus ABA Social Care section of Dimensions-UK as its Senior Behaviour Analyst in 2015.

Niall joined the Ark Team in June 2017.

Luisa Holmes BCBA – Deputy Manager/ Senior Behaviour Therapist

Luisa graduated from The University of Essex with a 1st class honours degree in Psychology in 2013. Immediately after graduating Luisa began working at Treetops Specialist School in the VB department. Whilst at Treetops Luisa was running 1:1 ABA programmes with a range of learners with autism and social communication difficulties, from 4 – 18 years old. After 3 years at Treetops Luisa moved to The Ark Centre to begin specialising in early years. Luisa has since gained a distinction in ABA MSc from The University of Kent, which had led on to her being able to gain her BCBA qualification and is now a Board Certificated Behaviour Analyst.

As a BCBA at the Ark Centre Luisa designs and implements individualised ABA programmes, provides direct training to staff and parents, attends internal and external meetings regarding children’s complex needs as well as providing 1:1 therapy for children.

Throughout her ABA career Luisa has worked collaboratively with Speech and Language Therapists and Occupational Therapists which has allowed her to provide multidisciplinary interventions for children with ASD. Luisa has Level 1 PECS (Picture Exchange Communiation System) Training.

Luisa thrives working in an early year’s environment at a fast and lively pace to ensure all learners enjoy their education and reach their potential.

Laura Powell – Behaviour Therapist (Maternity Leave)

Laura began her career in early years in 2009 where she obtained her NVQ Level 3 in Childcare and gained a large amount of knowledge of the EYFS and child development.

In 2012 Laura moved into Special Education and started her career as an ABA tutor in Treetops Specialist School. Laura provided 1:1 ABA therapy for children aged 4-18 years with autism and social communication difficulties. Laura recieved extensive ABA training under programme supervisors and developed her knowledge of Skinners Verbal Behaviour.

Laura joined The Ark Centre in November 2017. Her practical and theoretical experince in ABA enables her to adapt her teaching to support our children to reduce thier barriers to learning while aquiring new functional skills. She is able to use her years of hands on experince to create fast paced, fun and precise learning experiences.

Laura has almost 8 years of BCBA supervised ABA experience with a variety of children with autism and social communication difficulties. She is currently working towards her RBT (Registered Behaviour Technician) qualification.


Venicha Joseph – Behaviour Therapist

Venicha started her career in early years at the age of 18. She has an NVQ level 3 in Childcare, a Portage Certification and has over 15 years experience of working with pre-school age children. Venicha has a detailed knowledge of the EYFS and child development.

Venicha’s interest in using her career to support children with additional needs was sparked when a younger sibling was born, needing additional support from various professionals. In January 2017 she joined The Ark Centre as a full time Behaviour Therapist.

With her wealth of early years experience, Venicha finds it effortless to engage our children and to create fun, personalised learning experiences. Venicha is able to adapt her EYFS knowledge to create accessible, educational and motivating group activities.

Venicha has almost 3 years of BCBA supervised ABA experience with a variety of children with autism and social communication difficulties. She is currently working towards her RBT (Registered Behaviour Technician) qualification.

Lauren Blazer – Behaviour Therapist/ Registered Behaviour Technician

Lauren’s career as a 1:1 for children with additional needs started in 2016. She worked in a multi-disciplinary team as a 1:1 in a Special Needs school for 2 years. Implementing individualised behaviour support plans, supporting students to access educational activities and assisting students to expand their communication and social skills.

Lauren’s experience has given her an in-depth understanding of autism and other developmental disabilities. She is able to use her knowledge to highlight areas of needs and support children to develop skills to overcome their barriers to learning.

Her experience of working with children with additional needs highlighted how difficult it can be for individuals to access self-care facilities. Lauren is a qualified hairdresser and uses her skills to provide desensitisation programmes and enable individuals to overcome their fears and gain the confidence to access hairdressing both at The Ark Centre and in the community.

Lauren started in The Ark Centre in August 2018 as a full-time behaviour therapist and has 2 years of BCBA supervised ABA experience with a variety of children with autism and social communication difficulties. Lauren qualified as a RBT (Registered Behaviour Technician) in October 2020. 

Bethany Rollinson – Behaviour Therapist

Bethany started her career as a Deputy Manager in primary schools planning, developing and implementing activities for out of school hours clubs. Bethany loved the challenge of creating activities that can be accessed and enjoyed by a variety of children while following the EYFS.

Bethany has always shown a great interest in her mothers’ career as a Specialist Teacher and this motivated her go on to work as a full-time nursery nurse and start her role as a SENCO (Special Educational Needs Coordinator Officer). This allowed Bethany to follow her passion of working with children with Special Educational Needs and gave her in-depth experience of how different conditions and disorders can affect a child’s early development and learning.

When joining The Ark in 2020 as a full-time behaviour therapist Bethany was easily able to apply her knowledge gained by being a SENCO to adapt her daily teaching to the individual needs of our children. Her 4 years’ experience of using the EYFS in designing and creating activities allows her to excel at motivating our children by providing exciting and unique learning experiences within their programmes.

Bethany is currently halfway through completing a BA degree in Childcare and Child Development. She is also working towards her RBT (Registered Behaviour Technician) Qualification.