About Us

SarahProfessor Sarah Parsons
Professor of Autism and Inclusion, Director of Research
Southampton Education School


Sarah is Director of Research for Southampton Education School at the University of Southampton, UK. She has significant research experience in disability related projects and particular interests in the use of innovative technologies for children with autism and the views and experiences of disabled children and their families. Following a PhD in developmental psychology at the University of Nottingham, Sarah has led and managed research encompassing a range of approaches, and is skilled in the development and application of child-centred methodologies for accessing the views of children with special educational needs. Examples of recent projects include the COSPATIAL project funded by the European Commission (€1.65M) which explored the use of collaborative technologies for supporting social skills for children on the autism spectrum; and the ESRC funded ‘Shape’ project which worked closely with school practitioners to identify ways of using different interactive technologies in the classroom in innovative and exploratory ways.

Dr Nicola Yuill (BA Hons, DPhil)
Nicola YuillSenior Lecturer in Developmental Psychology, University of Sussex, UK


Nicola Yuill heads the Children and Technology Lab at the University of Sussex. We are interested in how technology can be used to understand and support children working and playing together, at school and at home, in typical and atypical development, with peers, with parents and with teachers. Nicola has particular expertise in interdisciplinary work between theories in developmental psychology and processes in human-computer interaction, and in the fine analysis of video to uncover mechanisms of collaborative social interaction. Recent projects include ShareIT, developing and evaluating innovative technology to support collaboration in autism, and current work using tablets to support language comprehension.


Professor Mark Brosnan
Director, Centre for Applied Autism Research (CAAR), University of Bath


Prof Brosnan is the Director for Research in the Department of Psychology at the University of Bath (U.K.). With colleagues from Computer Science, he leads the interdisciplinary South West Autism Group. Prof Brosnan is a Chartered Psychologist with the British Psychological Society (BPS) and a member of the Cognitive Psychology Section and the Division of Neuropsychology.

Prof Brosnan’s current research examines how children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can be involved within the design of computer-based tutors. His team has developed protocols for ‘participatory design’ that effectively support children with ASD to be active design partners. This has informed a series of design principles that have guided the development of a mathematics tutor – designed by people with ASD for people with ASD. This process has provided unique insights into how those with ASD would like computer-based learning to look and work. A current project is employing this participatory design protocol with both young people with ASD and their parents to design technology to alleviate challenging behaviours.

These projects are part of a broader interest in the visual-spatial and reasoning abilities that can be altered or enhanced within ASD. Prof Brosnan also has a long standing research interest in how technology is used by the general population, and has written a book on ‘Technophobia’. This explores how and why people can become anxious about using technology. Recently this has extended into ‘social media’ and of particular interest is how these new online environments can facilitate communication in people with ASD.

Dr Judith Good (BA(Hons), MSc, PhD)
Judith GoodReader in Informatics, University of Sussex, UK

Judith is the Director of the Human Centred Technology lab in the Department of Informatics, University of Sussex. Her research interests centre on the use of technology for learning, specifically, educational games and simulations, game creation for learning, and constructivist learning environments. Following an undergraduate degree in psychology, Judith gained an MSc and PhD in Artificial Intelligence from the University of Edinburgh. She has been involved in a number of large research projects as both Principal Investigator and Co-Investigator, with specific expertise in the use and development of participatory design methodologies with children (including children with autism spectrum conditions). Most recently, she was co-Investigator on the ECHOEs project (http://echoes2.org/), which focussed on the development of a technology-enhanced learning environment in which 5-to-7-year-old with ASC and their typically developing peers could explore and improve social and communicative skills through interacting and collaborating with virtual characters (agents) and digital objects. Her current research interest is on the ways in which the use of sensors and mobile technologies might empower young people with ASC to develop and refine their emotion regulation skills in a variety of environments.

About the Blog authors (ESRC Rapporteurs):
Nigel Newbutt:
My recent research includes the role that virtual environments can play to develop communication and social skill opportunities for young people with autism. In addition, I am investigating the manner in which technology can be successfully deployed in schools and developed by teachers to enable successful solutions for children on the autism spectrum. Most recently, I am working with adults on the spectrum; gaining insights to the use and role of virtual reality headsets to help social communication opportunities. Online profile / Twitter @newbutt / Web: virtaut

Chris Girvan:
I am a Doctoral Researcher at the University of Sussex in the ChaTLab working with Nicola Yuill on the use of technology in supporting collaboration in special schools, mainstream schools and in the home. My previous research has focused on the collaborative processes employed between ASC children when using tablet technology and specific educational software. Twitter: @LAGcgirvan

Liz Smith:
I am an Educational Psychologist, currently working alongside Aurora at the University of Bath. We are working as part of a research team to develop a new computer-based tool for Social Stories™ that will be designed both with, and for children with ASD.

Aurora Constantin
During my PhD in computer science at the University of Edinburgh I focused on designing and developing an authoring tool to support practitioners to develop, deliver and assess Social Stories™ for children with ASD. Presently, I have the great chance to continue my PhD work as a research associate at the University of Bath.