Sue Fletcher Watson
Sue Fletcher Watson, Senior Research Fellow
Patrick Wild Centre, University of Edinburgh

Title: Merging psychological theory with a neurodiversity framework for better autism interventions. 
The neurodiversity movement emphasises natural variability in the way that different people’s brains work.  It is associated with the disability rights and autistic rights movement, which calls for greater understanding of autism (and other neurodevelopment conditions) in terms of differences rather than deficits. Taken at face value, the neurodiversity principle seems to be hard to reconcile with the high levels of need often encountered in clinical and education settings.  Can we adopt a neurodiversity framework while also providing evidence-based supports where they are needed?  In this talk Sue Fletcher-Watson will describe how a progressive model of autism can be combined with psychological theory and participatory methods to deliver evidence based interventions without compromising respect or scientific integrity.


Sue Fletcher-Watson is a Senior Research Fellow at the Patrick Wild Centre, University of Edinburgh. She is a developmental psychologist, studying how children grow and learn, with a particular focus on non-normative experiences, such as autism and preterm birth. Her work aims to apply rigorous methods from psychology to questions with clinical, educational and societal impact. Current research themes include: investigations of how digital interactive technologies can best be deployed to support learning and personal growth for autistic children; describing the impact of bilingualism on cognitive development and life experiences in autistic people; and innovative empirical tests of the ‘double empathy problem’ in the context of interaction between neurodivergent and neurotypical adults.  She strives to achieve meaningful partnerships with community representatives and to support neurodivergent leadership in research.  She is a recipient of the British Psychological Society Margaret Donaldson Award and a Certificate of Excellence from Autism Rights Group Highland.