Sue Fletcher-Watson



Oundle School, 1993 – 1998; St Andrews University, 1999-2003


BSc (St Andrews, 2003); MA Developmental Psychopathology (Durham, 2004); PhD Psychology (Durham, 2008)

Work History:

Newcastle University and the University of Edinburgh

Current Job:

Chancellor’s Fellow – a full time research post (very little teaching), at the University of Edinburgh.


University of Edinburgh

My Interview

Me and my work

I’m a developmental psychologist, working at the University of Edinburgh. I’ve been doing research into child development, atypical development and especially autism for about a decade.

Typical day

Lots of meetings, writing and emails! But the more interesting activities might be doing play-based assessments with autistic children, using an eye-tracker to record the eye-movements of babies born preterm (if we can record where they are looking we can infer something about what they are interested in and what they understand), or developing iPad apps for use in educational contexts.

What topics do you work on?

Autism: early intervention and how to measure the effects of early intervention. The consequences of being raised in a bilingual household.
Technology: the educational and therapeutic value of modern mobile and touchscreen technologies such as the iPad
Preterm birth: many preterm babies develop in the normal range as infants and toddlers, but learning problems are spotted when they start school. We’re trying to identify these problems earlier, so we can provide pre-school learning support.

What methods do you use?

iPads: creating new apps for data collection and to support pre-school learning for children with autism. Reviewing apps for children with additional support needs, especially autism (again!).
Eye-tracking: recording where someone is looking while they watch images on a computer screen
Play-based assessment: for diagnosis of autism and for monitoring progress by recording how children interact with a parent or peer.

Who was your favourite teacher?

Jonathan Bromley – my A-level history teacher. A real enigma but clearly passionate about his subject, which came across in every lesson. He would comment on essays simply by placing a tiny pink question mark in the margin every now and again.