I am passionate about making a difference to individuals with autism and their families and feel privileged to be leading the work of the Autism Centre for Education and Research (ACER). My research is rooted in participatory methodologies and engagement with policy makers, practitioners, autistic individuals and parents. Through leading the development of a nationwide professional development programme for school staff, commissioned by the Autism Education Trust and funded by the Department of Education (DfE), I have engaged with a range of government, statutory, voluntary and private organisations. It has opened my eyes to the way in which partnership work changes the way each partner works, and has led to training materials that are transforming practice, with nearly 100,000 school staff receiving the training to date. I am currently running an EU funded project that builds on this work, with partners in the UK, Greece and Italy. I have featured on the Today programme and on the Alan Titchmarsh programme and have had significant press interest when working in India. The story on using robots with pupils with autism went viral internationally! I hope my work can contribute towards changing public perceptions round autism, from seeing autism as a disability to seeing it as a different way of being.
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