Dr Liz Pellicano

Dr Liz Pellicano is  Director of the Centre for Research in Autism and Education (CRAE) at the Institute of Education, London.

Liz is a developmental cognitive scientist and educational psychologist committed to understanding the distinctive opportunities and challenges often faced by autistic children, young people and adults and tracing their impact on everyday life – at home, at school and out-and-about in the community.

She trained as an educational psychologist in Perth, Australia, where she also completed her PhD on the cognitive profile of children with autism, before becoming a Research Fellow in Psychiatry at the University of Oxford.

Liz will present in Symposium 2 on Day 1 of the conference and the Day 2 plenary. 

Having my say: Getting young autistic people and their families involved in educational decision-making: Children should have their say, whoever they are, whatever their needs. But for many children and young people with autism decisions may more often than not made for them, not with or by them. Current UK legislation seeks to turn this around, placing children and young people and their families at the heart of decision making with regards to their education, health and care. In this talk, I describe a project funded by the UK's Office of the Children's Commissioner, which sought to understand the realities of the lives and experiences of young people with and without autism – the good and the bad – of growing up in school. We also examined the extent to which young people had a say in the decisions that affect their lives. While many of the schools we engaged appeared to be doing an impressive job of eliciting children's views, there were also many instances in which young people's views either were not elicited or were not listened to. These findings call for teachers, school staff and professionals to do more to ensure that we listen, and act upon, what young autistic people have to say, whatever their needs.

Doing autism research well: Building a participatory framework: There has been a substantial increase in research activity on autism during the past decades. Research into effective ways of responding to the immediate needs of autistic people is, however, less advanced, as are efforts at translating basic science research into service provision. In this talk, I suggest that we need radical new ways of doing autism research. Involving community members in research – autistic people, their families and those who support them – is one potential way of reducing this gap, ensuring that a greater portion of research has a direct and sustained impact on those who need it most. But how do we go about doing this? How can we make sure that community involvement in research is genuinely participatory and not just tokenistic, where autistic people and other key stakeholders are 'co-producers' of the research or even in control of the research and its application? I will raise issues about autism and autism research but also highlight broader issues about decision-making and accountability in research.

Also presenting in this Symposium:
Prof Jacqueline Roberts
Prof Vicki Batskia
Dr Trevor Clark