Senior Lecturer in Autism at Sheffield Hallam University
18 Nov 2021
I have been working for decades in the autism field, in capacities ranging from practitioner to researcher to trainer, first working with autistic children as a volunteer aged fourteen. I worked for The National Autistic Society (NAS) as a Service Co-ordinator assisting in the development of a residential service for young autistic adults. I worked within this service supporting young adults with a range of complex needs, from those with high dependency needs and severe learning disability, to individuals with a diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome; prior to this I worked in the voluntary sector in the learning disability field.
I co-wrote the ASPECT consultancy report (2007), the largest UK consultation with autistic adults undertaken at the time; I am co-editor of five books on autism published by Jessica Kingsley, and am sole author of three books: ‘Autism and Asperger Syndrome in Adulthood’ (2017); ‘Autism and Asperger Syndrome in Childhood’ (2019); and ‘Avoiding Anxiety in Autistic Children’ (2020) and have several other publications in journals and books.
I have run a Project developing autism services within a specific Local Authority, been involved in the setting up and running of two autism Social Groups, and have also been employed by the NAS as Regional Development Officer co-ordinating developments over a large geographical area. This has given me the background experience to work at a strategic level within Local Authorities to develop good practice in the field of autism. The Project included the development of diagnostic services, day provision, residential provision, and transition services.
I have been part of a research team at Nottingham University running a three year project, and have several publications in National and International journals related to the project. I completed my Doctoral thesis at Sheffield Hallam University which was titled: Asperger Syndrome and Perceived Offending Conduct: A Qualitative Study.
I have been the dedicated Training Consultant for The NAS, and Head of the Department, and involved not only in the delivery of autism specific training but in the development of autism specific courses and modules.
I have provided consultancy around how to work with and support autistic individuals, organisational consultancy, and consultancy to Local Authorities and National bodies, and have spoken at a number of National and International conferences on a variety of autism related topics. I have worked closely with individuals and families around a range of needs.
My most recent post is with Sheffield Hallam University, as Senior Lecturer in autism. I run courses at different academic levels in autism, including a Masters qualification, while continuing to research and consult in the field of autism. I am the course leader for the Post Graduate Certificate in Autism and Asperger Syndrome, run in collaboration with the NAS, and supervise several students at Doctoral level, many of whom are autistic. I am proud of the several autistic (ex) students who successfully completed their Doctorates under my supervision.
Every year the student survey has run I have been nominated as either an Inspirational Teacher, Inspirational Research Supervisor, or both. In 2011 I was awarded the Inspirational Teacher Award. In 2012 I was awarded the Inspirational Research Supervisor Award. In 2018 I was awarded my third Inspirational Award and in recognition was presented the Sheffield Hallam Vice-Chancellor Award. In 2015 I was a finalist for the prestigious National Autistic Society’s Lifetime Achievement Award for a Professional. In 2016 I was the winner at the National Autistic Society’s Autism Professionals Awards for Achievement by an Individual Educational Professional. In 2016 I was nominated and reached the finals for the Autism Hero Awards run by Anna Kennedy Online in two categories: Lifetime Achievement, and Individual Professional – and won both categories. In 2021 I was awarded the Sparkle Sheffield Award for Lifetime Achievement in Autism. I have several media appearances, including BBC TV and Radio 4, The Guardian, The independent – and an article on me appeared in the Times celebrating my achievements. My Blog was voted second best in the award winning Aukids magazine in their list of ten top all time favourite autism Blogs.
My interests are anything related to autism, pretty much to the exclusion of everything else.