Practitioner Tutors and Teaching Fellows

Our Practitioner Tutors and Teaching Fellows who work on the Autism Children Distance Learning Programme.

Miranda Andras

Miranda Andras is a Practitioner Tutor on the Autism (Children) course and has supported students with their studies at the University of Birmingham over the last seven years.

She worked as a Specialist Teacher for children with autism, delivering Autism Education TrustTraining to staff across Essex, supporting pupils, families and schools in developing positive learning experiences. It is Miranda’s strongly held belief that the starting point in any provision should be to recognise the strengths of the individual and to focus on and develop their areas ofinterest. This prompted extensive work on Lego Therapy in schools, which was publishedin the Good Autism Practice Journal.

Miranda is a Trustee of a working farm for young adults with learning disabilities and autism, which aims to give young people a stepping stone into meaningful employment by providing jobs linked to their skills. She is also a Governor for an autism-specificprovision for pupils with complex needs, which delivers an academic and therapeutic curriculum.

miranda andras

David Edwards

David grew up in Leicestershire; and after a brief interlude at Aberystwyth University and a job at Westminster Cathedral Conference Centre, he started teaching in 1985. He began as a primary school teacher, progressing to Maths and finally working with those with learning difficulties in school. He ended up joining the Leicestershire Autism Outreach Team and was professional leader of the Team at the time of his departure for France in 2001.

He now lives in the south of France and works in a big mansion house in the countryside.  Since 2005, he has been trying to help his teams do their best with 90 children and young adults with a mixture of different challenges who keep them on their toes!  In 2016, he joined a team that works with 41 youngsters from 3 to 20 years of age, mostly in the French education system but also at home with families, so he works a lot on going out into the community and, for the older ones, discovering adulthood.

He was a tutor on the Web Autism course since its inception in 2001 until 2017, when he joined the distance Autism Children course and he always enjoy the challenges that broadening his knowledge base with students brings him.

Apart from his two grown-up children who are now established in their own professional lives, he has with his wife three Anglo-French children (20, 17 and 14 years of age) in Castres.

Enjoy your year with us at Birmingham, and if need any help or have any questions then contact him. His email address is: and this is the best way to contact him!

david edwards

Annie Etherington

Annie has been a tutor on the Autism (Children) Distance Learning Programme for over 16 years. She is also an independent trainer and consultant working in the field of autism, working across the UK but has also contributed to conferences internationally. Annie has worked in the field of autism for over 45 years. She has worked across the age range from pre-school children (working with them in their homes alongside their parent or carer); students in primary and high school, through to adults. As a teacher she has set up specialist autism provisions and worked in both mainstream and specialist settings, including a residential, autism specific school. For over a decade, she led a team of autism specialists to provide outreach support to schools and families for a Local Authority in North London. 

Autism has been a focal point of interest throughout Annie’s working life. She regularly works with speakers on the spectrum as co-presenters and particularly values the essential perspective they offer to our understanding. When this is not possible, Annie will use film and first hand accounts to ensure the autism voice is represented. This underlines her ongoing interest in the growing understanding of neurodiversity and the importance of creating learning and living environments that embrace a wealth of cognitive processing styles as well as the variety and richness of, possibly, alternative emotional expression within relationships.  She has published papers and journal articles which address some of her particular areas of interest. These include:

  • Peer awareness programmes to support inclusion
  • Developing literacy, particularly inference skills
  • Social understanding
annie etherington

Wenn Lawson

Dr. Wenn B. Lawson (PhD), an autistic lecturer, psychologist, researcher, advocate, writer and poet has passionately shared his professional and personal knowledge re: autism, for 25 years.

He has written and/or contributed to over 25 books and many papers. He is an honorary researcher for Curtin University, WA, and for Macquarie University NSW’s in Australia. He is a Tutor Practitioner for the University of Birmingham’s Masters Autism course (Children’s), participant with the autism Co-operative Research Centre (ACRC), Co-Chair of the Autism Research Council Australia, ambassador for the ‘I CAN’ agency of Australia, and resides on the Editorial Board for the Journal, Autism in Adulthood.

Dr. Wenn is a family man with autistic adult offspring and autistic grandchildren. In 2017 he presented to the United Nations on matters of Autism and ageing.  Dr. Wenn is passionate about all things ‘autism’, birds, animals and some humans!

His email: 

Home page:

wenn lawson

Angela Purdy

Angela is a Teaching Fellow (Autism: Children) within the Department of Disability, Inclusion and Special Needs (DISN).

Angela started her career as a primary school teacher and Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO). She became a Specialist Advisory Teacher (Autism) within a large Local Authority, supporting children with autism, their parents, and helping schools to develop good autism practice. She developed her knowledge and understanding of autism by studying for a Masters’ Degree (Special Education: Autism (Children)) at the University of Birmingham. Angela became a regional tutor at the University of Birmingham supporting students studying on the Autism (Children) distance learning courses.

 Her career in the field of autism has spanned many years and she is an experienced practitioner with a commitment to supporting others to further develop their own knowledge and professional practice.

Currently, Angela works as an Independent Specialist Advisory Teacher (Autism and Social Communication Difficulties) offering services to children, parents, and schools. She also works as a mentor and study skills supervisor, supporting autistic students who studying at university.    

angela purtney

Sandy Thomson

Over the past 30 years Sandy has designed, managed and developed a range of services for children and adults with autism in Central Scotland. In addition to this Sandy has been active in Autism Accreditation throughout the UK and Ireland at Team Leader level.

A strong supporter of the programme at University of Birmingham, Sandy has been a tutor since 2001 and supports both adult and children programmes.

sandy thomson