About the Author

Natasha Milanko is an award-winning teacher, photographer and mother of Ella, who has cerebral palsy.  Natasha’s early childhood picture books Tessa’s Best Friend and The Hair Flower Box celebrate a child’s experiences of living with a disability. Illustrated with stunning candid photographs, Natasha’s books have been recognised as invaluable tools to promote inclusion and create positive educational outcomes for an early childhood audience. Her curriculum support materials connect Natasha’s picture books with the Early Years Learning Framework and the Australian Curriculum and provide educators with an easy-to-use resource that highlights the potential within curricula for developing the themes of inclusion and disability as part of the junior primary English program.

Natasha’s books and inclusion project have the support of a number of leading disability and education stakeholders including the Department of Education (Special Educational Needs – Disability), Disability Services Commission’s “Count Me In “ strategy, Early Childhood Intervention Australia (ECIA) The Centre for Cerebral Palsy, Rocky Bay and parenting expert Maggie Dent.

In 2012, Natasha’s goal was to see a copy Tessa’s Best Friend and The Tessa’s Best Friend Teacher’s Booklet made available to every state primary school in WA.  Permission for this project to go ahead was provided by the WA Deputy Director General of Education and the books were distributed state wide in August. This project was celebrated at the “Story time for CP” Event at the State Library of WA.

Media interest in Natasha’s project has raised awareness of inclusion at both state and national levels and she was featured on the cover of the December DisAbility Update Magazine (DSC). In 2012 Natasha was awarded and an Early Childhood Intervention Australia (ECIA) Excellence Award and was highly commended at the Disability Services Commission “Count Me In” Awards.   

Natasha speaks to various audiences (including students, educators, parents and therapists) about the importance of making connections between children with and without disabilities.

See the books