Our Team

Administration Team

Jenni Embleton
Managing Director

Jenni studied Speech Pathology at the University of Queensland and has worked with young children for 18 years. She has worked as a Speech Pathologist in the public, private, and not-for-profit sectors in Canberra, Dubbo, London, and Sri Lanka.


Jenni has always loved working with children with developmental delays, autism, and feeding difficulties. She currently focuses her clinical time on early feeding skills.

Jenni started Early Bird Therapy in 2013 with the aim of building a multidisciplinary team that truly understands and responds to the needs of families. She currently spends most of her time working to build the skills of everyone in the Early Bird Therapy team and ensuring everything runs smoothly.

As a child, Jenni used to hide inside cupboards reading books in order to avoid cleaning her bedroom.

Heather Bartels
Office Manager

Heather is the most organised member of the Early Bird team. She has a wealth of experience in health administration and makes sure that our therapists know what they're doing.


Heather likes to spend the time to get to know all of our families and is ready to help whenever you need.

Heather spent her early years in the UK, and started school in Australia with a British accent.

Christine Carver
Administration Assistant

When you call or email Early Bird Therapy, you're likely to reach Christine first. Christine has many years of experience in customer service and administration, and has lived experience as a parent of an Autistic son.

Christine loves any opportunity to have a chat! She particularly enjoys being able to help parents starting their therapy journey and navigating the NDIS. 

Christine is a proud cancer survivor. She was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma is 2012 and underwent chemotherapy and radiation.

Speech Pathology Team

Claudia Whitcombe
Senior Speech Pathologist

Claudia is a dynamic Speech Pathologist who excels at working with children with complex needs. She enjoys working with children across a range of ages.​ Claudia has a Bachelor of Health Science (Speech Pathology) from Curtin University and moved to Canberra from Perth in 2016.

Claudia has a natural ability to make children feel at ease and she particularly enjoys helping more reluctant children to come out of their shell. Claudia has special interests in Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) and challenging behaviour.

Abbey McPherson
Speech Pathologist

Abbey has a Bachelor of Speech Pathology (Honours Class I) from the University of Newcastle, receiving the Speech Pathology Australia award for being 1st in her degree. She has previously worked in the not-for-profit sector with children aged 0-18.


Abbey is passionate about all areas of speech pathology, but particularly loves working with children to develop their use of speech sounds, language skills, and literacy skills. Abbey's priority is to help all of her children achieve their personal goals so that they can participate in all activitie of thier choosing, and feel valued and proud of themselves for the effort they put in.

Abbey is a woman of many talents - in addition to her Speech Pathology skills, she also makes the world's best carrot cake.

Sian (2).jpg
Sian Higginson
Speech Pathologist

Sian has a Master of Speech Pathology from the University of Canberra and a Bachelor of Arts in Professional Writing and Publishing. 

Sian's gentle approach to interacting with children means that they instantly feel comfortable and safe in her presence.​ Sian enjoys working with all children, especially children with speech, language, and literacy delays.


Sian has a particular interest in using cooperative games as a modality for working on social skills. She hopes to complete further research into this area.


Multidisciplinary Team

Taylor (2).jpg
Taylor Pitson
Positive Behaviour Support Practitioner

Taylor has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Canberra and is currently completing her honours thesis in Psychology. 

Taylor's area of expertise is in designing and implementing behaviour intervention programs  for children using the principles of Positive Behaviour Support, Collaborative and Proactive Solutions, and Social Role Valorisation. She has a passion for inclusion-based practices and believes that the best way to teach a child is by developing a meaningful connection with them.

Taylor has a gift for talking to children in a way that makes them feel valued and excited to learn. 

Amy Deller
Occupational Therapist

Amy has a Masters of Occupational Therapy from the University of Canberra as well as an honours degree in Kinesiology from the University of Victoria in Canada.


Amy has worked in education, not for profit and private settings and loves supporting children to meet their full potential. Her special interests include toileting, hand writing, social skills and sensory processing.


Amy used to be a completive synchronized swimmer and still owns many sequined covered bathing suits.

Kate (2).jpg
Kate Penrose
Early Childhood Educator

Kate is an experienced early childhood and specialist educator and early intervention key worker. Kate is skilled in helping families to understand their child and finding ways to develop skills through everyday family activities. She is particularly interested in assisting vulnerable and at-risk families.

Kate brings a wealth of experience to the Early Bird Therapy team, having previously worked in the education system and managing a therapy team in the not-for-profit sector.

Kate sees children aged 0-6 and provides a mobile service to work with families in natural, non-clinical settings.

Lisa head shot.jpg
Lisa Donaldson

Lisa studied her Masters of Nutrition and Dietetics as well as a Bachelor of Education at the University of Canberra. Lisa was a primary school teacher for a decade, working in mainstream classrooms catering for children with additional needs. She loves working with children and has a gentle and nurturing way of connecting with children. 


Lisa is a mother to a reluctant, beige food eater herself, so understands the challenges some parents face! She personally understands how to manage dietary intolerances, which was the reason she left teaching to pursue a career in nutrition. 


Lisa is a highly regarded dietitian and is the Spokesperson for Dietitians Australia. She regularly teaches nutrition at a variety of Canberra institutions, including the University of Canberra, CIT and ADFA. You may even see her on the television from time to time as a guest expert on the news. 


Assistant Team

IMG_1300 (2).jpg
Adam Barnes
Allied Health Assistant

Adam has a Bachelor of Medical  Science from ANU and is currently studying a Masters of Occupational Therapy at the University of Canberra. 

Adam gets along with children so well because he says he will always be a child at heart. He is never afraid to get in and play in the name of therapy and fun! Adam is particularly interested in sensory perception and understanding children's perception of the world around them. He is also working to develop his skills in the area of Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC).

Katherine Dixon
Allied Health Assistant

Katherine is currently studying a Bachelor of Psychology with Honors at ANU.


She's excited to start her career working in the disability sector and has already gained great experience through volunteering at Pegasus, working as a Learning Support Assistant at two of Canberra's specialist schools, and working as a disability support worker.

Katherine's strong drive for excellence, her keen intellect, and her love for teaching children all combine to make Katherine a wonderful Allied Health Assistant. Watch this space - Katherine is destined for great things!

Maddison Kretschmer
Allied Health Assistant

Maddison has a Bachelor of Education from the University of Canberra and is currently studying a Masters of Speech Pathology at the University of Canberra. She has a wealth of experience working as an Early Childhood Educator and loves seeing children flourish and develop into confident and independent little people.

Maddi loves to read and enjoys getting out with her four-legged friend.

Isabella Robinson
Allied Health Assistant

Isabella is currently studying a Bachelor of Arts at ANU majoring in Linguistics. She plans on commencing a Masters of Speech Pathology in 2023.