Co-host Dr Nicola Martin studied at Newcastle Poly, Virginia, Manchester Met and Derby and has a PhD focussing on inclusive practice with autistic university students. Following over ten years of teaching and management in school and FE Nicola became a Divisional Head in Access and Lifelong Learning at the University of Derby before moving to Sheffield Hallam in 2005 to take up the roles of Head of the Disability and Wellbeing Service, Director of The Autism Centre and PL for Inclusive Practice. She moved onto a leadership role at the LSE in 2009 working on the equalities agenda and heading up the Disability and Wellbeing Service. In 2013 Nicola moved to LSBU as PL, Associate Professor Then Professor in Education. She is currently Professor of Social Justice and Inclusive Education. E:, T: 020 7815 5779

Co-host Dr Damian Milton is an author, consultant, Lecturer in Intellectual and Developmental Disability at Tizard Centre, University of Kent and chair of the Participatory Autism Research Collective (PARC). Damian works part-time for the National Autistic Society (NAS) as an Autism Knowledge and Expertise Consultant (Adults and Community) and sits on the scientific and advisory committee for Research Autism. Damian also teaches on the MA Education (Autism) programme at London South Bank University and has been a consultant for the Transform Autism Education (TAE) project and a number of projects for the Autism Education Trust (AET) E:

Keynote Speaker Dr Bhismadev Chakrabarti is Professor at Reading University’s Centre for Integrative Neuroscience and Neurodynamics and holds an honorary position in the Cambridge University Autism Research Centre, where he conducted his PhD and postdoc research.  His current research focuses on testing the links between reward and autism and continues to collaborate with the Autism Research Centre on projects related to genetics, neuroimaging, and the cognitive phenotype.  Check out: or E:
T: +44 (0) 118 3785551

Guest Speaker Melissa Simmonds is in her second year of a three-year MA in Autism Studies at Sheffield Hallam University. She is the creator of MisTÂûght and an Autism Consultant, with an aim to “have every person that my children and I come into contact with, have an appropriate level of, and understanding of Autism. Not just awareness, but acceptance.” Melissa is a trustee at the Sheffield Parent Carer Forum, as well as a member of the Sheffield Autism Partnership Board.

Guest Speaker Bethany Oakley is a PhD student at King’s College London. Her research focuses on the impact of anxiety and depression symptoms on quality of life for individuals on the autism spectrum. She is also interested in why anxiety and depression are so common in autism and how they influence emotion and social processing.


Guest Speaker Hannah Hayward is a PhD student at King’s College London, and also a Neurodevelopmental Specialist working in adult diagnosis. Hannah’s PhD explores sex differences (and similarities!) in the clinical and social behaviour of people with, and without autism. Her hope is to contribute to greater understanding and detection of ASD in females (children and adults).  Hannah is also enjoying work with St. Giles Trust to run workshops across 7 women’s prisons to help train staff to better recognize/support females with ASD.


Guest Speaker Dr Susy Ridout currently explores communication preferences as a means to locating the autistic voice to the fore in research, services and debate and has taken this forward to extend her research as a member of PARC (the Participatory Autism Research Collective). Susy’s first book explores Autism and Mental Wellbeing in HE and provides practical tools to examining barriers to learning, developing effective coping strategies, investigating what constitutes enabling learning environments and exploring terminology used to voice these.


Guest Speaker Dr Eddie Chaplin is Professor of Mental Health in Neurodevelopmental Disorders in the Department of Mental Health and Learning Disabilities in the School of Health and Social Care at LSBU. Eddie specialises in mental health of neurodevelopmental disorders; his current research relates to ND in offender populations and developing services for this group. Eddie has extensive clinical experience in local and national mental health services for people with neurodevelopmental Disabilities including autism, intellectual disabilities and ADHD. He has also developed a number of post graduate courses relating to offending and the mental health of people with intellectual disability. E:, T: 0207 815 7010