Damian works part-time for the National Autistic Society (NAS) as Autism Knowledge and Expertise Consultant and sits on the scientific and advisory committee for Research Autism. Damian currently teaches on the MA Education (Autism) programme at London South Bank University and is Project Leader for the National Autistic Taskforce. In the summer of 2017 Damian also joined the Tizard Centre, University of Kent as a part-time Lecturer. Damian’s interest in autism began when his son was diagnosed in 2005 as autistic at the age of two. Damian was also diagnosed with Asperger’s in 2009 at the age of thirty-six.
Dr. Susy Ridout – convenor Midlands
Susy completed her doctorate in autism in 2016 at the University of Birmingham on the subject of exploring mixed media as a means of locating the autistic voice to the fore in research, services and debate. Her research interests are narratives, autistic voice, intersectionality, disability service provision, survivors and wellbeing. She has built expertise as a mentor and academic skills support worker with autistic and disabled people in Higher Education and employment settings over 8 years. Susy advocates mentoring as an approach to examining barriers to learning, developing effective coping strategies and terminology used to voice these, whilst also being a key method of exploring issues relating to both disclosure and wellbeing within HE and employment scenarios.
Marianthi Kourti – convenor Midlands
Marianthi is a PhD student at the University of Birmingham, investigating how autistic individuals identified as female at birth form a gender identity and what implications that process has in their lives. She also completed her MEd in the same university in 2013-2014 and has been working as a Specialist Mentor for autistic university students for various universities across the West Midlands since 2014. Prior to coming to the UK, she worked as a Special Education Teacher in Greece, her country of origin, where she also completed her undergraduate degree in Special Education.
Gill Loomes – convenor York and Leeds
Gill is currently doing a PhD (a socio-legal study of the Mental Capacity Act 2005) at the University of York. Gill is also a tutor at ACER – the Autism Centre for Education and Research, University of Birmingham – and has experience as a research consultant, including for the Autism Education Trust. Gill’s professional background is in advocacy, and she has a strong commitment to autism advocacy, and to its potential to support our communities.
Prof. Nicola Martin – convenor London
Dr Nicola Martin joined London South Bank University (LSBU) in September 2013 from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), where she took a lead on disability equality. She is Principal Lecturer in Education and has lead responsibility for the Education Research Centre, with its focus on equality, diversity and sustainability. Nicola is leading on building a wide range of research activities and a stimulating, diverse and encouraging postgraduate environment which focuses on social justice in education across the age range into adulthood.
Dr. Dinah Murray – convenor London
Dinah Murray is an independent researcher and campaigner, former tutor for Birmingham University’s distance learning courses on autism (adults) and former support worker for people with varied learning disabilities, including autism. Tutoring involved reading and critiquing hundreds of practitioner research projects. Her work has been published in Autism, in Good Autism Practice, in a number of books and on-line; she has presented at numerous conferences (world-wide) on varied themes related to autism, including several years of Autscape, an annual conference cum retreat run by and for autistic people. Her autism-related research interests have included: medication and its impact on quality of life; information technology for people who don’t use speech; the ethics of autism research; the nature of the human being, with a particular focus on interests. She has been assessed as on the autism spectrum, and if growing up today would certainly have attracted an autism diagnosis.
Dr. Catriona Stewart – convenor Scotland
Catriona’s doctoral research focused on girls with Asperger syndrome and anxiety; findings from her study were published in Good Autism Practice May 2012. In 2012 she co-founded peer-support and knowledge exchange organisation, SWAN: Scottish Women’s Autism Network, which gained charitable status in 2016. SWAN has presented 3 ground-breaking Learning Event seminars at Strathclyde University and in 2016 was shortlisted for a National Diversity Award. Catriona is on the Autistic Advisory Panel of research project, the National Autism Project, (NAP) and is one of their Expert Advisors. She has presented to many events, including the Scottish Autism Strategy Research Seminar series, Glasgow 2014; Shaping Autism Research UK, 2015, Edinburgh; TAE project, Birmingham 2016; Autism Europe Congress, Edinburgh 2016; NAS Women’s Conference, London 2016; Globalisation of Autism London 2016; Advancement in Women’s Studies, Toronto, 2017. Catriona’s research on autistic mothers was presented to IMFAR 2017. She is Academic Advisor to the development of Scottish Autism’s Right Click programme for women and girls and is now working full-time within the charity’s research team as an Autism Advisor.
Dr. Luke Beardon – convenor Sheffield and Manchester
Luke has been working for decades in the autism field, in capacities ranging from practitioner to researcher to trainer. Luke worked for The National Autistic Society (NAS) as a Service Co-ordinator assisting in the development of a residential service for young autistic adults. Luke worked within this service supporting young adults with a range of complex needs, from those with high dependency needs and severe learning disability, to individuals with a diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome; prior to this Luke worked in the voluntary sector in the learning disability field.
Janine Booth – convenor Autism and Marxism group
Janine is an autistic railway worker, trade unionist, tutor, writer, poet and activist. She is the author of the Trade Union Congress’ ‘Autism in the Workplace’ handbook for trade union representatives (2014), the book ‘Autism Equality in the Workplace: removing barriers and challenging discrimination’ (JKP, 2016) and various articles on autism, particularly on the workplace and on the usefulness of Marxism in explaining autistic experience in modern capitalism. Janine runs courses for trade unions (and voluntary sector organisations) about autism and neurodiversity, equipping activists to demand workplaces are made autism-friendly rather than autistic workers being made to ‘fit in’.