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 – Director

Whilst studying for her BSc (Hons) in Psychology, in 2010 Emma started work on a PEACH home-based VB/ABA programme. She now has over 13 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 distinction 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 8 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 as a BCBA, and continues to provide supervision and support to our in-house BCBA’s.

Luisa Holmes BCBA (Maternity Leave)

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 in 2019, which had led on to her being able to gain her BCBA qualification in 2020 and is now a Board Certificated Behaviour Analyst. Luisa is also registered with the UK-SBA (UK society for behaviour analysis).

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, and continues to update her knowledge with regular continuing education units.

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.

Member #101294

Laura Powell – Registered Behaviour Technician (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 2015. 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 over 10 years of BCBA supervised ABA experience with a variety of children with autism and social communication difficulties. Laura passed her Register Behaviour Technician exam in June 2022.


Venicha Joseph – Registered Behaviour Technician

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 over 6 years of BCBA supervised ABA experience with a variety of children with autism and social communication difficulties. She qualified as an RBT in September 2021. 

Rosie Peach- Centre Manager and Senior Behaviour Therapist

Rosie began working with children with autism in 2018 where she obtained a level three diploma as a learning support assistant. Alongside this, Rosie also worked at a specialist setting in Chelmsford, supporting children aged from 3-19 with a range of additional needs. Throughout Rosie’s 5 years at the setting, Rosie’s passion was working with children with autism and challenging behaviour. She took on more responsibility within an ABA class and began leading her own sessions and collaboratively working with multi-disciplinary teams.

Rosie has recently graduated from the University of Essex with a degree in Special Educational Needs and Disability studies. Rosie’s degree and experience have equipped her with practical, theoretical and legislative knowledge which she can apply to her teaching and when supporting our children and their families. Rosie is currently studying her ABA MSC and is working towards her BCBA qualification.

Rosie joined the team in March 2023 and enjoys supporting the children and their families, Rosie is over the moon to be working as The Arks Centre Manager!


Poppy Williams – Behaviour Therapist

Poppy began her career working in special education in 2020, when she worked for a charity during lockdown. She was providing 1:1 activities and support to children and their families at a time when schools and centres were closed. 

This inspired Poppy to continue working with children with additional needs, where she went on to work at Oak View School, a specialist provision for pupils with special Educational Needs. Here she worked as a Learning Support Assistant with children with autism, a range of special educational needs and communication difficulties. Poppy gained an insight into how different therapies can aid children’s development and growth which sparked her passion to pursue a career as a Behaviour Therapist.

Poppy graduated with a first-class honours degree in Social Science from The Open University in August 2023 and is considering taking a masters degree in ABA.

Poppy began working at The Ark Centre in July 2023, and has begun working towards her Registered Behaviour Technician qualification. 

Rebekah Smithers – Registered Behaviour Technician

Rebekah started working with young children in 2021 when she worked as a dance teaching assistant at her local dance school. Rebekah found this role particularly rewarding, as well as giving her experience in working with children. This role also led Rebekah to discover her passion for working in early years education. 

In October 2023 Rebekah will start her degree in psychology with the University of Essex where she aims to further develop her understanding of the mind and behaviour. Rebekah aims to use this knowledge to support her role at The Ark Centre, bringing new knowledge and enthusiasm to the team. Rebekah studied psychology at A-Level which gave her an insight into developmental psychology; touching on autism and ABA therapy.

Rebekah joined the team in July 2023 and is enjoying working towards her RBT qualification and providing exciting learning experiences to support the children to achieve their full potential. 

Charlotte Cole – Play therapist

Charly joined The Ark Centre as a behaviour therapist in November 2016, after 15+ years of working with children with additional needs in residential settings at a managerial level. During that time Charly completed NVQ level 3 and 4 in health and social care for children and young people as well as continued professional development including safeguarding and sensory integration training.

Charly left The Ark in July 2019 to complete a masters in play therapy at The University of Roehampton, with the hope of re-joining the team when qualified. After graduating with distinction, Charly began working in a private independent therapeutic school in the role of lead therapist, supporting children who have suffered trauma and adverse childhood experiences.

After 2 years and seeing the school through their first OFSTED inspection, where they obtained the award of outstanding, Charly has now set up a private practice working as a contractor through The Ark centre. She is excited to be able to offer direct 1:1 therapy with children, family work and training and consultancy to reach families who need support. Charly takes pride in the fact she is able to channel her inner child through play and is passionate about supporting children’s mental health through their natural communication of play.