I am a qualified speech-language therapist and I have a PhD in Experimental Psychology.
I’ve worked in Hackney, as a speech-language therapist. As a scientist I’ve worked at Oxford University, Royal Holloway, and UCL
Professor. I’m also Chair of Governors at my daughter’s school.
What topics do you work on?
I am particularly interested in children with developmental language disorders. These children have difficulty learning language. Sometimes their language difficulties are part of another developmental condition, like autism, dyslexia or Down syndrome. In other cases, it isn’t obvious why they are having such problems. Children with language disorders can find it hard to communicate and form friendships. And because language is the foundation of literacy and learning, children with language disorders can really struggle at school. In the longer term, children with language disorders are at increased risk for mental health issues (anxiety, attention deficits, depression) and can find it hard to get work. We are currently looking at how language difficulties affect a child’s understanding of own and other’s emotional states, and how they use language to regulate their feelings.
What methods do you use?
I’m currently running a population study looking at how variation in language ability at school entry is related to variation in other developmental skills (reading, executive function, social skills, emotion processing and regulation), academic achievement, and mental health.
I have also used research designs that compare language profiles of children with different diagnoses, for example children with autism and children with developmental language disorder.
In these studies, I’ve used experimental methods, including eye-tracking, to understand how children process language moment to moment.
Who was your favourite teacher?
Mrs Elliott was my reception class teacher. She taught me how to read and she was the first teacher to indicate to me that I was talented. She really stretched my learning and she supported me when I got teased by other students. She made a very big impression on me.
Me and my work
My work is extremely varied. I teach undergraduates, post-graduates and I supervise PhD students. I run seminars for early career researchers and mentor junior staff. I have a research team of students, graduate research assistants.