Understanding the diversity of human development
Improving education and diversity policy and practice
We're interested in the role that social interactions play in all aspects of human development. Our research — informed by our community and academic collaborations — aims to support families, children and professionals in education, employment and care environments.
Taking an interactionist approach to development and diversity
The study of the process of development and its variability lies at the heart of our research. We use a range of methodological approaches and techniques that emphasise the role of social interaction and everyday experiences in development, rather than focusing on individuals alone.
We study the process of development from early infancy through adolescence to older age groups. We are also interested in neurodivergent participants, people with intellectual disabilities and other conditions; their relationships with other people and also with the physical world.
We involve community members or community-based organisations in our research; whether this is to co-develop research questions, seeking their advice on the design and protocols for our studies, or drafting actions resulting from our research. One outcome of these collaborations has been the creation of the Autism Centre for Research on Employment.
Our research centre is committed to address social problems, enhance the local and wider community, and improve educational and diversity policy and practice. We achieve this by:
- Using a community-based research approach to ensure the views of the community are reflected at all stages in the research process
- Creating opportunities to disseminate, and discuss, research findings within community settings
- Developing sensitive and meaningful research paradigms and methods capture heterogeneity in development across the life-span
- Co-developing resources to meet the needs of educational and diverse communities
- Facilitating collaborative partnerships between scientists and community organisations
- Shifting psychological practices that reproduce stigma and limit our understanding of the capabilities of neurodiverse populations
- Implementing best practices in the workplace and education
Assessing the efficacy of dogs in Animal Assisted Therapy and the mechanisms of action across a range of therapeutic settings.
Supervisors: Dr Leanne Proops, Dr Eszter Somogyi, Dr Anne McBride (Southampton University). ESRC South Coast Doctoral Training Partnership (SCDTP), October 2019 – September 2022.
Communication with objects: The prevalence of object signals in early communication of children and nonhuman primates.
Supervisors: Dr Marina Davila-Ross, Dr Eszter Somogyi, Dr Iris Nomikou. ESRC South Coast Doctoral Training Partnership (SCDTP), October 2018 – September 2022.
Discovering Hidden Abilities (DHA): Building Assessment Tools for Children with Atypical Development.
Supervisors: Dr Iris Nomikou, Dr Alessandra Fasulo and Dr Beatriz López. ESRC South Coast Doctoral Training Partnership (SCDTP), October 2018 – March 2023.
How does mindfulness affect classroom life?
Supervisors: Dr Eszter Somogyi, Dr Alessandra Fasulo, Dr Daphne Kaklamanou. ESRC South Coast Doctoral Training Partnership (SCDTP), March 2019 – March 2023.
Supporting autistic students through university using a collaborative participatory research approach.
Supervisors: Dr Emine Gurbuz, Dr Steven Kapp and Dr Beatriz López. ESRC South Coast Doctoral Training Partnership (SCDTP), October 2022 – March 2026.
It takes two to tango: Understanding autistic people’s mental states and facial expressions.
Supervisors: Dr Beatriz López, Dr Steven Kapp and Professor Bridget Waller (Nottingham Trent University). ESRC South Coast Doctoral Training Partnership (SCDTP), October 2019 – March 2027.
Expert use and detection of non-verbal deception in sport.
Supervisors: Professor Lorraine Hope, Professor Vasu Reddy and Dr Matt Dicks. ESRC South Coast Doctoral Training Partnership (SCDTP), October 2019 – September 2022.
We collaborate with several autism community-research groups. These collaborations are further supported by a thriving research culture, resulting from academic collaborative networks. Our research collaborations have enabled us to secure funding to advance developmental and diversity theory and improve educational practice and outcomes for children and neurodiverse populations.
Our community collaborations
- Academic Autism Spectrum Partnership in Research and Education (AASPIRE)
- Autism Centre for Research on Employment
- Wessex Academic Health Science Network's Healthy Ageing Programme
- Academic Research Collaboration Wessex: Ageing and Dementia theme, National Institute for Health Research
- National Care Association
- Government bodies including the Department of Health and NHS England
- Charities such as Autism Hampshire, Winchester Science Centre and Growing Places
- Councils and schools across Southampton, Portsmouth and Hampshire county
- Business and industry such as IBM
- Research networks including practitioners, schools and families such as the Autism Research Network, Mathematics in Education and Industry and Age UK Portsmouth.
Our academic collaborative networks
- Building Bridges Project REACH, City University of New York
- Daylong Audio Recordings of Children's Linguistic Environments
- ManyBabies Project Africa (Princeton University, Stanford University, and several African Universities)
- ManyBabies At Home network.
Members of our team have developed a series of resources which draw directly from our research. From online toolkits, lay summaries of autism research, or guidelines on how to include autistic people in the research process.