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Home > News > New Research Collaboration between University of Edinburgh and Scottish Autism

New Research Collaboration between University of Edinburgh and Scottish Autism

We are delighted to announce that Medical Research Scotland have awarded a collaborative PhD Studentship to the Salvesen Mindroom Research Centre at University of Edinburgh and the Centre for Practice Innovation at Scottish Autism in order to undertake groundbreaking new research in our services.

Recent work at the Salveson Mindroom Research Centre, undertaken by Dr Catherine Crompton and Professor Sue Fletcher-Watson, found that autistic research participants communicated more effectively with one another than mixed groups of autistic and non-autistic people. The new project will aim to make close observations of these interactions in order to establish what is distinctive and effective about interactions between autistic people.

The partnership with Scottish Autism will then allow the researchers to observe interactions in the ‘real-word’ context of day-to-day support practice. This will build on Scottish Autism’s own programme of practice research led by Dr Joe Long. Establishing what makes effective and enabling interactions, and what might hinder communication with autistic people will have important implications for support in social care and education. The research team will produce resources for practitioners based upon what they find.

The PhD Studentship will be taken up by Holly Sutherland, who previously studied at University College London and the University of Cambridge. The project will be supervised by Professor Fletcher-Watson, Dr Crompton, and Dr Long.

Speaking about the project Professor Fletcher-Watson said: "I’m excited about this ground-breaking work, and delighted to have recruited such an outstanding student to take the project forward too.  Our research group has had strong links with Scottish Autism for years, but I am thrilled to take those up to the next level through this funded studentship.”

Holly Sutherland, speaking about the studentship said: "I’m very excited to be doing my PhD in collaboration with Scottish Autism, and alongside supervisors with such a strong track record of cutting-edge autism research. I hope the research from this project will have a tangible, positive impact on the support provided to autistic people, both at Scottish Autism and beyond."

Dr Crompton commented the value of working directly with autism services: "We’re really excited to apply our research findings in a practice context and to be working with Scottish Autism to learn more about how to enhance communication with autistic people within services."

Dr Joe Long noted the value of collaboration, stating: “Scottish Autism are always keen to work with academic colleagues to produce research evidence that is relevant and applicable in services. The commitment of our colleagues at Salveson Mindroom Research Centre to inclusive research makes the partnership a natural fit. Collaborative studentships such as this help us to ensure that the next generation of autism researchers understand the day-to-day dynamics of autism services and engage supported autistic people and practitioners in the research process. We are looking forward to working together."