Dr Alexandra Sturrock

Clinical Lecturer

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Overview

Autism and sex/gender research

My main interest continues to be in the language and communication profile of autistic girls and how we might support them. In 2021 with the support of Lucid intern, Charley Walker, we developed materials which will help us identify support needs in the wider population, and are planning to trial this in groups of autistic girls as well as other individuals with subtle presentation of language and communication difficulties. I also co-supervised an award winning Master’s project by Arianna Paricos, on the topic of quality of life in autistic women (2021), with Dr Katie Twomey and Dr Kathy Leadbitter.

 

The EVER measure and exploring interactions between language and emotional difficulties

Myself and Dr Jenny Freed, have been exploring how to measure the development of language of emotion across childhood. Developing the EVER measure will allow direct assessment of the emergence of emotion vocabulary in children aged between 5 and 13 years. Leading to a full trial of the measure for clinical application.

With data derived from my PhD myself, Katelyn Blackthorne and Dr Kathy Leadbitter have also been exploring the impact of subtle language and communication difficulties on the emotional well-being and functional ability of autistic boys and girls without learning disabilities.  

 

The SPAACE project: Speech Perception by Autistic Adults in Complex Environments

This is a rolling set of co-production projects aiming to shed light on autism-related differences in speech perception. This work, with autism@manchester’s George Hanks, Dr George Bendo and Dr Emma Gowan as well as Audiology’s Dr Hannah Guest and Professor Chris Plack, is building towards developing discrete listening tasks and researching speech perception based on autistic insights. In related work an STP Master’s student is exploring self-help strategies employed by autistic adults to improve speech perception, with the aim of developing clinical resources on this theme.

 

PhD Research (2014-2020 P/T)

The focus of my PhD research has been on the language and communication differences of autistic females without learning disability. This has brought together areas of clinical interest through my role as a Speech and Language Therapist specialising in autism diagnosis and support. The study brings together two strands of research; understanding the presentation of autistic females, and the communicative difficulties of autistic individuals (girls and boys) without learning disability. In this way results have clinical implications for the more timely diagnosis of autistic females and therapy provision for autistic children more generally.

The study is divided into three stages: Firstly females and males with and without autism will be compared on a direct assessment of structural language and pragmatics. This will be undertaken in middle childhood during primary school.

The second stage considers how parents, clinicians and teachers as well as the children themselves report functional communication using checklists and observation measures (this is with the same group of children as in Study one).

Finally study three qualitatively investigates the impact of communicative difficulties as reported by the autistic children themselves.

Dr Catherine Adams & Dr Jenny Freed 

Clinical lecturing

Lead for Developmental Speech and Language Disorders A (2019-ongoing)

BSc (Hons) Speech and Language Therapy

Overseeing course module; lecture content, summative and formative assessment and marking

 

Teaching on Linguistics Phonetics and Language Development (2017-ongoing)

BSc (Hons) Speech and Language Therapy

Developing course and examination content and presenting material on phonetics, socio-linguisitcs, sentence structure, sentence function, semantics and pragmatics

 

Teaching on Lifelong Disability A (2018-ongoing)

BSc (Hons) Speech and Language Therapy

Developing and presenting course content on autism spectrum disorder: assessment and intervention

 

Teaching Clinical Professional Practice 1, 2 & 3 (2017-ongoing)

BSc (Hons) Speech and Language Therapy

Presenting a workshop on a day in the life of an SLT working in specialist autism provision, developing and presenting material within similated learning activities

 

Teaching Clinical Linguistics (2018-ongoing)

BSc (Hons) Speech and Language Therapy

Writing and presenting material on the clinical application of linguistic teaching in client populations

 

Membership of programme and student commitee, curriculum planning, exams board,  (2017-on-going)

BSc (Hons) Speech and Language Therapy

Active contribution to department management meetings

 

Lead for Developmental Language Disorders 1 (2017-19)

BSc (Hons) Speech and Language Therapy

Overseeing course module; lecture content, summative and formative assessment and marking

 

Teaching on Children with Developmental Disabilities (2017-18)

BSc (Hons) Speech and Language Therapy

Developing and presenting course content on autism spectrum disorder: assessment and intervention

 

 

 

External positions

External Examiner, University College London (UCL)

1 Sep 2020 → …

Autism Diagnostician/Specialist Speech & Language Therapist, The Roundway Centre

1 Jul 2020 → …

Keywords

  • Speech & Language Therapist, PhD researcher, Clinical Lecturer, Language and communication in autism, Sex/gender difference in Autism

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Education / academic qualifications

  • 2019 - Higher Educational Award: Fellowship, The Higher Education Academy
  • 2014 - Post Graduate Diploma: Autism Spectrum Conditions, Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU)
  • 2009 - Masters in Medical Science: Human Communication Disorders, The University of Sheffield
  • 2005 - BA Hons - Linguistics & Spanish, The University of Salford

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