I am currently an Associate Professor within the Centre for Educational Research at the University of Northampton. I have a lead role with regard to undertaking and promoting research within the school, particularly with regards to SEN and inclusion. I teach on Research Methods (MA), Autism (MA) and BA (SEN and Inclusion) courses, as well as supervising students at MA and PhD levels.
I am currently the Principal Investigator on a 3-year Erasmus+ funded project developing and evaluating parent education in autism in south east Europe (www.esipp.eu). I was the Principal Investigator on a 12 month funded project undertaking research into sensory storytelling with students with profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD) as well as other SEN. I have also worked as a researcher on UNICEF-funded projects researching autism in Oman and attitudes towards children with disabilities in Bhutan.
I sit on theFaculty of Education and Humanities Research and Enterprise Committee, and the University's Research Degree Committee, and am part of the coordinating team of the University’s Research Degree Supervisors’ Forum.
I have a PhD from the University of Birmingham. My doctoral research investigated the experience of family life and the use of social care support services by families that have children on the autism spectrum. I also have an MEd in Special Education (Autism) from the University of Birmingham, as well as a Post-Graduate Certificate in Education and Certificate in Social Service. In addition I hold management and research qualifications.
I began working with people with learning disabilities in 1979 in a long-stay hospital setting. Between then and 2012 I worked in a variety of settings with children and adults with physical, learning and multiple disabilities. From their inception in the early 1990s onwards I was responsible for the development and management of Northamptonshire County Council’s specialist social care services for children and young people on the autism spectrum and their families. From 2003 to 2007, I also worked as a Distance Education Tutor on the University of Birmingham’s WebAutism programme; from 2007 to 2010 I worked as a Regional Tutor on the University’s Distance Education (Autism) programme, supervising students at undergraduate and postgraduate levels.
Since undertaking Treatment and Education of Autistic and other Communication-handicapped Children (TEACCH) training in the USA in 1994, I have organised and worked as a trainer on numerous TEACCH 5-day multidisciplinary workshops in Northamptonshire in conjunction with colleagues from Division TEACCH (most recently in June 2006), as well as working as a trainer on TEACCH workshops elsewhere in the UK. I am acknowledged and certificated as able to work as an independent trainer for Division TEACCH (under the guidance of a TEACCH Director) by Division TEACCH, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
I have presented papers and workshops at conferences worldwide. I have numerous publications in peer-reviewed journals and in edited conference proceedings (these are listed in Works). I am currently a reviewer for the journals Support for Learning, Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs (JORSEN), Practice: Social Work in Action and Research, Policy and Planning. I have also acted as a referee for papers submitted to the journal Autism.
I am external examiner for a Masters Level Autism and SEN courses at Dublin City University and the University of East London.
From 2005-2009 I was a member of Northamptonshire County Council’s Research Governance Group: as such, I shared responsibility for approving and advising on all applications to carry out research within a social care context within the county council. In this role I also sat on the University of Northampton’s Research Ethics Committee.
I have acted as a consultant to Regional Partnership Strategic Development Teams on social care provision for children with ASD, advising across a number of local authorities in the UK. I also acted as a consultant on a European Commission-funded project, working in collaboration with Autism Europe and non-governmental organisations in Slovenia and Hungary to establish short breaks services for young people with autism in those countries.
I have been a member of reference groups for research carried out by the Social Policy Research Unit, University of York. I am currently involved in supporting the SHAPE project re services for adults with Asperger Syndrome. I also carried out the literature review on the service needs of families with children with ASD on behalf of the Special Needs Consultancy for the National Audit of Support, Services and Provision for Children with Low Incidence Needs carried out on behalf of the DfES.