Coventry University | Dr. Sarah Cassidy

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Dr. Sarah Cassidy

Atypical Development Theme Lead

My Research Vision

My research is inspired by the desire to further our understanding of Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASC), in order to develop and evaluate innovative interventions to improve quality of life for these individuals. One research area explores how individuals with ASC process emotions in realistic social situations, using eye tracking among other methods. 

Related lines of research are developing and evaluating interventions to improve emotion processing in those with ASC, and exploring the contribution of sensorimotor abilities to the development of social skills in those with and without ASC.  My second area of research explores whether adults with ASC are more at risk of negative outcomes, such as mental health problems, suicidal thoughts and behaviours, than other clinical groups, and the associated triggers and protective factors. 


I completed an Msc and PhD studentship at Nottingham University, followed by a postdoctoral research position at the Autism Research Centre (ARC), University of Cambridge, where I managed the largest autism research database in the UK and a number of associated projects (

I currently lead the Atypical Development Research Theme in the Centre for Research in Psychology, Behaviour and Achievement, which I formed in 2014.

International Collaboration

  • Prof. Simon Baron-Cohen, Autism Research Centre, University of Cambridge, UK.
  • Dr. Jacqui Rodgers, Newcastle University, UK.
  • Dr. Teresa Tavassoli, Seaver Autism Centre, US.

Indicators of Esteem

  • International award winner: 2015 ‘Young Investigator Award’ from the International Society for Autism Research, for the best clinical research paper published in 2014 (Cassidy, S., Bradley, P., Robinson, J., Allison, C., McHugh, M., & Baron-Cohen, S. (2014). Suicidal ideation and suicide plans or attempts in adults with Asperger's syndrome attending a specialist diagnostic clinic: a clinical cohort study. The Lancet Psychiatry, 1(2), 142-147.)
  • Honorary Appointment: Visiting Researcher, Autism Research Centre, University of Cambridge.
  • Honorary Appointment: Visiting Researcher, Institute of Neuroscience, Newcastle University.
  • Conference Organization: Early Career Researcher Development Program International Conference Organiser, ‘Role of academia in today’s society’, Coventry University.
  • Public Engagement: Chair of organizing committee, ‘Coventry Young Researchers 2015’, Coventry University.
  • Invited Seminar Series Speaker: Cerebra Centre for Neurodevelopmental Disorders, Sheffield University, North East of England Research Group.
  • Invited Symposium Speaker: International Association for Suicide Prevention, Montreal, 2015; British Psychological Society (BPS) Developmental Section 2012, BPS Seminar 2011.
  • Invited Conference Speaker: National Autistic Society (NAS) Autism and Mental Health Conference 2015; NAS Professional Conference 2016 (upcoming).

Research Areas and Themes


  • Cassidy, S., Stenger, B., Van Dongen, L., Yanagisawa, K., Anderson, R., Wan, V., Baron-Cohen, S., and Cipolla, R. ‘Expressive Visual Text-To-Speech as an Assistive Technology for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Conditions’. Computer Vision and Image Understanding [in press]
  • Cassidy, S., Mitchell, P., Chapman, P., and Ropar, D. (2015) ‘Processing of Spontaneous Emotional Responses in Adolescents and Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders: Effect of Stimulus Type’. Autism Research. Available from
  • Cassidy, S., Bradley, P., Robinson, J., Allison, C., McHugh, M., and Baron-Cohen, S. (2014) ‘Suicidal ideation and suicide plans or attempts in adults with Asperger's syndrome attending a specialist diagnostic clinic: a clinical cohort study’. The Lancet Psychiatry 1 (2), 142-147. Available from
  • Cassidy, S., Ropar, D., Mitchell, P., and Chapman, P. (2014) ‘Can adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders infer what happened to someone from their emotional response?’. Autism Research 7 (1), 112-123. Available from
  • Baron-Cohen, S., Cassidy, S., Auyeung, B., Allison, C., Achoukhi, M., Robertson, S., and Lai, M.C. (2014) ‘Attenuation of Typical Sex Differences in 800 Adults with Autism vs. 3,900 Controls’. PloS one 9 (7), e102251. Available from
  • Pohl, A., Cassidy, S., Auyeung, B., and Baron-Cohen, S. (2014) ‘Uncovering steroidopathy in women with autism: a latent class analysis’. Molecular autism 5 (1), 27. Available from
  • Cassidy, S., Bradley, P., Robinson, J., Allison, C., and Baron-Cohen, S. (2014) ‘Suicidal ideation, plans and attempts in adults with Asperger Syndrome: A clinical referral study’. 2014 International Meeting for Autism Research. Held 15-17 May 2014 in Atlanta, GA USA. Poster.
  • Cassidy, S., Mitchell, P., Ropar, D., and Chapman, P. (2012) ‘Static versus dynamic emotion faces influences the pattern of emotion recognition performance and visual perusal in ASD’. 2012 Developmental Section Annual Conference; ‘Theory of Mind in individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders across the lifespan’. Held 5-7 September 2012 in Glasgow, UK.
  • Cassidy, S., Mitchell, P., Ropar, D., and Chapman, P. (2010) ‘Adults with autism’s understanding of emotion in context’. International Meeting for Autism Research. Held 20-22 May in Philadelphia, PA USA. Poster


  • ESRC Future Research Leaders (2016-2019), "The Forgotten Half Million: New Methods for Mapping Mental Health Outcomes in Adults with Autism Spectrum Conditions in the UK". PI, £265,000.

Postgraduate Supervision

  • David Walker, PhD Studentship, Centre for Research in Psychology, Behaviour and Achievement; “Emotion Processing in Autism Spectrum Conditions.”
  • Penny Hannant, PhD student and Research Associate, Centre for Research in Psychology, Behaviour and Achievement; “Sensory and Motor Difficulties in the Development of Autism Spectrum Conditions.”
  • Kathryn Cook, PhD Studentship, Centre for Psychology, Behaviour and Achievement; “Clinical Correlates of Suicidality 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”.
Research breakout image

Atypical Development Theme Lead

Building: James Starley
Room: JSG12
Research Gate Centre for Research In Psychology, Behaviour and Achievement