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Atypical Development

The Team

 Sarah Cassidy

Sarah Cassidy (Research group leader)

Autism and atypical development  

 Hayley Crawford Thumbnail

Hayley Crawford

Rare genetic syndromes associated with intellectual disability


Anna Joyce (née Ashworth)

Psychology, sleep and cognitive development

 Penny Hannant

Penny Hannant

Autism and sensorimotor development

Focus of Our Research

The Atypical Development Research Theme is led by Dr. Sarah Cassidy.

We are a multi-disciplinary group of researchers cutting across a number of research themes, departments and research centres in the UK and internationally. Please click here to see a full list of staff and students in our group.

Our research aims to understand a variety of developmental conditions and rare genetic syndromes, to inform and evaluate effective interventions, and improve quality of life for these individuals and their families. Most research into developmental conditions have focused on childhood. However, we adopt a lifespan approach, researching atypical development from early childhood through to adulthood. To this end, our research addresses a number of under investigated areas.

One area explores outcomes of adults with Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASC) in terms of their quality of life, employment, occupational attainment, bullying, mental health and suicidality. We aim to develop new valid measures and interventions to better understand and improve outcomes in adults with ASC.

Another area of research explores social and emotional functioning in children and adults with rare genetic syndromes associated with intellectual disability (e.g. fragile X syndrome, Cornelia de Lange syndrome, Rubinstein-Taybi syndrome), and ASC.

A third area of research explores the effect of sleep quality on cognitive ability in children with Down’s syndrome, and typically developing children.

We collaborate closely with the Autism Research Centre, University of Cambridge, and the Cerebra Centre for Neurodevelopmental Disorders, University of Birmingham, on a number of projects.

PhD Students

  • David Walker, PhD Studentship, Centre for Research in Psychology, Behaviour and Achievement; “Emotion Processing in Autism Spectrum Conditions.”
  • Lisanne Van-Dongen, MSc Mental Health, Maastricht University, Netherlands, and Centre for Psychology, Behaviour and Achievement, Coventry University, UK. “Suicidality in Autism Spectrum Conditions”.

Current Projects