Dr Catherine Crompton
Post-doctoral fellow: October 2019 to September 2020
Home Institution: University of Edinburgh, Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences
Project title: Co‐designing an autistic peer support framework for mainstream secondary schools.
I am a neuropsychologist, and my research explores autistic communication and relationships. I am interested in communication between autistic people, and how that may differ from interactions between autistic and non-autistic people. My project at IASH will explore peer support structures for autistic pupils within mainstream secondary schools. The inclusion of autistic young people in mainstream schools is a complex process: autistic young people are at a high risk of bullying and often feel disconnected from their school community. While many social interventions for autistic young people focus on developing normative strategies to improve peer interaction and relationships, creating this mask of normative social behaviour can cause anxiety and stress, as well as poor self-image. There is preliminary evidence that for autistic adults, peer support from other autistic adult may be particularly beneficial as they do not have to mask their autistic behaviours. In this project, I will work with autistic teens in school to understand whether peer support programs could provide a useful space for autistic young people to interact, as well as with autistic adults to reflect on the role peer support could have had in their school life. Under the mentorship of Dr Katie Cebula (Education), I will co-design a peer support toolkit for secondary schools. This research will develop knowledge and thinking in psychology, education and related disciplines. We draw on the neurodiversity movement and social model of disability, demonstrating how they can influence educational practice.