Personal profile

Overview

Autism and sex/gender research

My PhD (2014-2020 P/T) explored the language and communication differences of autistic females without learning disability compared to autistic boys and non-autistic matched children. It showed how primary aged girls and boys differed on (1) direct psycholinguistic measures of language and pragmatics, (2) parent, teacher and child self-report using questionnaires and (3) clinical observations. It also qualitatively explored the likely impact of language differences by interviewing both autistic girls and boys (and their parents), and showed broad similarities of experience. It provided new insight into sex/gender differences relating to language and communication in autistic children without learning disability. In so doing it offered guidance to clinicians around accurate diagnosis, accurate assessment and support needs. It was supervised by Dr Catherine Adams & Dr Jenny Freed 

In 2021 with the support of LuCID intern, Charley Walker (SLT), we developed materials which will help us identify subtle support needs for a wider population of autistic women and girls. We are currently collecting data with those aged 12-24years.

We continue to explore the impact of social communication differences for autistic women within a co-supervised award winning Master’s project by Arianna Paricos. Together with Dr Katie Twomey and Dr Kathy Leadbitter, a paper on quality of life in autistic women is pending publication.

Most recently, in collaboration with Dr Brendan Dunlop and others, I am co-supervising a postgraduate DClinPsy student to explore the social communication profiles of trans-individuals and its impact on their well-being.   

 

Intervention development for social communication differences

From Jan 2024, I will be working on a Nuffield Trust grant, alongside Dr Colin Bannard (The University of Manchester), Dr Julie Dockrell (UCL), Professor Danielle Matthews (The University of Sheffield) Dr Kirsten Abbot-Smith (University of Kent). In this project we will generate a teacher training programme seeking to provide universal support for social conversation, in the class-room. The programme will be co-created with teachers and then the study will seek to establish effectiveness.

Additionally, alongside Dr Kathy Leadbitter and Dr Penny Bee, I am co-supervising a pre-doctoral fellowship for Katy Baldwin (SLT). She is seeking to establish an evidence base for her HAVEN programme (established with Manchester Foundation Trust), a teacher training project, to facilitate setting up and running neurodiverse affirming social groups for teenagers in schools. Also, alongside Dr Ceri Ellis, I am supporting research into another MFT initiative to provide pre-diagnostic support to autistic infants, (led by Sarah Cameron, SLT).

 

The EVER measure and exploring interactions between language and emotional difficulties

In collaboration with Dr Jenny Freed, we are exploring how to measure the development of language of emotion across childhood. Developing the EVER measure will allow direct assessment of the emergence of emotion vocabulary in children aged between 5 and 13 years. Leading to a full trial of the measure for clinical application.

 

The SPAACE project: Speech Perception by Autistic Adults in Complex Environments

This is a rolling set of co-produced projects aiming to shed light on autism-related differences in speech perception. This work, with autism@manchester’s George Hanks, Dr George Bendo and Dr Emma Gowan as well as Audiology’s Dr Hannah Guest and Professor Chris Plack, is building understanding of discrete listening differences and speech perception based on autistic insights. In related work from our STP Master’s student, we have also expanded our understanding of self-help strategies employed by autistic adults to improve speech perception. This is being developed into public facing materials to support clinicians and other autistic adults.

 

Current PhD students

Alexandra Gillyon, Sabrata Mallick, Elizaveta Nosova

Overview

Unit lead for Developmental Speech and Language Disorders B (2022-ongoing)

BSc (Hons) Speech and Language Therapy

Overseeing course module; lecture content, summative and formative assessment and marking

 

Unit lead for Developmental Speech and Language Disorders A (2017-2022)

BSc (Hons) Speech and Language Therapy

Overseeing course module; lecture content, summative and formative assessment and marking

 

Teaching on Linguistics Phonetics and Language Development (2017-ongoing)

BSc (Hons) Speech and Language Therapy

Developing course and examination content and presenting material on phonetics, socio-linguisitcs, sentence structure, sentence function, semantics and pragmatics

 

Teaching on Clinical Research 1-3 (2018-ongoing)

BSc (Hons) Speech and Language Therapy

Developing and presenting course content public engagement and research and supporting final year students with thier research project

 

Teaching on Lifelong Disability A (2017-ongoing)

BSc (Hons) Speech and Language Therapy

Developing and presenting course content on autism spectrum disorder: assessment and intervention

 

Teaching Clinical Professional Practice 1, 2 & 3 (2017-ongoing)

BSc (Hons) Speech and Language Therapy

Presenting a workshop on a day in the life of an SLT working in specialist autism provision, developing and presenting material within similated learning activities

 

Teaching Clinical Linguistics (2018-ongoing)

BSc (Hons) Speech and Language Therapy

Writing and presenting material on the clinical application of linguistic teaching in client populations

 

Membership of programme and student commitee, curriculum planning, exams board,  (2017-on-going)

BSc (Hons) Speech and Language Therapy

Active contribution to department management meetings

 

Dissertation supervision (2020-2023)

MSc Clinical & Health Psychology 

Arianna Paricos: Quality of life for autistic women. With co-supervisors Dr Katherine Twomey and Dr Kathy Leadbitter

Anjana Alex: facilitator perspectives of the HAVEN training programme. With co-supervisor Dr Kathy Leadbitter.

 

Dissertation Supervisor (2020-23)

MSc Audiology

Eden Jarvis: Listening strategies for speech perception in background noise as identified by autistic adults. With co-supervisor Dr Hannah Guest.

 

 

 

 

 

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being

Education/Academic qualification

Higher Educational Award: Fellowship, The Higher Education Academy

Award Date: 1 Sept 2019

Post Graduate Diploma: Autism Spectrum Conditions, Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU)

Award Date: 1 Aug 2014

Masters in Medical Science: Human Communication Disorders, The University of Sheffield

Award Date: 1 Sept 2009

BA Hons - Linguistics & Spanish, The University of Salford

Award Date: 1 Sept 2005

External positions

External Examiner, University College London (UCL)

1 Sept 2020 → …

Autism Diagnostician/Specialist Speech & Language Therapist, The Roundway Centre

1 Jul 2020 → …

Keywords

  • Speech & Language Therapist
  • PhD researcher
  • Clinical Lecturer
  • Language and communication in autism
  • Sex/gender difference in Autism

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