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Studies recruiting now

Lived Experiences of Autistic Parents

Amber Dugdale

Project Summary: This study aims to better understand the lived experiences of autistic parents. The social world of autistic adults is an underdeveloped research area that can impact quality of life. For neurotypical people, parenthood is associated with both positive and negative experiences (e.g. emotional connection, increased stress) but the experiences of autistic parents are currently not well understood. This study therefore is hoping to improve understanding of parenthood in autistic adults by interviewing individuals about their experiences. Themes to be explored include attachment development, parental stress, and interaction with others (e.g. services). Eligibility criteria: Parent to at least one child between the ages of 5-15 years, an official diagnosis on the autism spectrum (e.g. autism; Asperger's; ASD; high-functioning autism), fluent in English, no diagnosis of a learning disability.

Lead researcher: Amber Dugdale    E-mail: asdugdale1@sheffield.ac.uk    Project supervisor: Dr Megan Freeth

Note: If you would like further information or are interested in taking part, please e-mail Amber

Cognition and Behaviour in Weaver syndrome and Tatton-Brown Rahman syndrome

Chloe Lane

Project summary: Weaver syndrome and Tatton-Brown Rahman syndrome are rare genetic overgrowth conditions associated with intellectual disability. Recent evidence suggests increased prevalence of autism in these conditions, though current understanding of cognition and behaviour is poor. This research will provide a comprehensive overview of the cognitive strengths and difficulties, and behavioural profile of these conditions. Results will be made available to clinical geneticists and families so they know what outcomes to expect and to educators so appropriate educational strategies can be adopted.

Lead researcher: Dr Chloe Lane E-mail: chloe.lane@sheffield.ac.uk Project supervisor: Dr Megan Freeth

Note: If you would like further information or are interested in taking part, please e-mail Chloe


Investigating Neural Variability in Autism in Childhood: An EEG Study

Aikaterina Giannadou

Lead researcher: Kat Giannadou   E-mail: agiannadou1@sheffield.ac.uk    Project supervisors: Prof Elizabeth Milne & Dr Megan Freeth

Note: If you would like further information or are interested in taking part, please e-mail Kat



identifying potential subtypes in autism spectrum condition

Rose Alexander

Project summary: This study aims to develop a better understanding of autism by using a new questionnaire looking at the differences and similarities across certain characteristics and behaviours in children and young people with autism. We believe that there may be different sub-types of autism and we hope to be able to define these sub-types with this new questionnaire. In this phase of the project, we are looking for parents/carers of children without an Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC) to fill in our questionnaire. We will then use this data as a comparison for data already collected from the parents / carers of children with a diagnosis of ASC. This will allow us to establish whether the questionnaire will be reliable to use in research. If you are the parent / carer of a child without ASC aged between 4 and 15 and would like to take part, please follow this link to find out more and complete the questionnaire.

Lead researcher: Rose Alexander E-mail: ralexander2@sheffield.ac.uk Project supervisor: Prof Elizabeth Milne

Note: If you would like further information or are interested in taking part, please click this link

Join our database

We are currently recruiting both children and adults to take part in our research. If you would like to add your details to our research database please click on the link below. By adding your details to our database, we will be able to contact you with information about studies that you or your child may be eligible for. You can then decide whether or not you would like to take part.

In addition to obtaining data from individuals with a diagnosis of autism spectrum conditions (ASC), we need to be able to compare the results to those obtained from individuals without a diagnosis of ASC. Therefore you, or your child, can also contribute to our research even if you (or they) don't have a diagnosis of ASC.

Join our Autism database - Child

Join our Autism database - Adult

Join our Sotos syndrome database

Join our Russell Silver Syndrome database - Adult

Join our Russell Silver Syndrome database - Child


Volunteering to take part in the research generally requires a visit to our lab which is located in the department of Psychology, in the University of Sheffield. Our experience is that volunteers really enjoy their testing session, and find it exciting and fun to be part of a research project.


A lab visit usually takes 2 to 3 hours, and typically involves:

  • Working on cognitive tasks, often on the computer, i.e. looking for targets on the screen (e.g. a red triangle) and pressing a button when you’ve seen it.
  • Interacting with the experimenter, i.e. engaging in age-appropriate conversation / turn-taking, story telling, problem solving etc.
  • Parents / caregivers will be asked to complete a couple of questionnaires about the participant’s social skills and developmental milestones.

Some studies may also involve recording EEG, or measuring eye-movements while working on the cognitive tasks. For more information about these techniques, please see below.


Electroencephalogram (EEG) is a harmless and painless procedure that involves placing a sponge covered hairnet on the head. The sponges record electrical activity conveyed from the brain to the scalp, and provides important information about how the brain responds to different stimuli. The sponges contain gel so your hair may get a little messy!

Our experimenters are well trained in using these techniques with children, including children with ASC, and the protocol can often be adapted for a particular child's needs, so if your child would like to take part, chances are that they will be eligible, although of course we'll discuss it with you first to make sure. All of our studies receive full ethical approval from the appropriate ethical review committee, and information about what any particular study involves will be given before you decide to take part.

Eye Tracking

Eye tracking records exactly where you are looking when you are completing different tasks, this helps us to understand how the attention and perception system works. If the experiment involves working on a computer, a small device will sit just below the computer screen and will track what you are looking at during the experiment. If the experiment involves moving around or talking with an experimenter, you will wear a pair of lightweight glasses which contain a mobile eye tracking device and record your eye movements via infra red cameras.


Who can I contact if I have a question?

Please e-mail : sharl@sheffield.ac.uk if you have any questions
To speak to someone directly, please call Elizabeth Milne: (0114) 2226558

Contact details for individual researchers can be found on your participant information sheet.