Dr Kathy Leadbitter PhD

Research Fellow

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Research Interests

Kathy's research interests are in neurodevelopmental conditions, including autism and intellectual/learning disability, and neurodiversity. Kathy is passionate about pragmatic and high-impact research that will directly improve the lives of neurodivergent children and adults and their families in the UK and internationally, including in low resource contexts.

Kathy is interested in communication, interaction and language development. She is also interested in family relationships, parenting, mental health, wellbeing, quality of life, and the lived experience of autistic people and their families. Her work is underpinned by a strong pro-neurodiversity and social justice ethos. 



  • Development and co-design of interventions/ health technologies
  • Evaluation of interventions, including feasibility, acceptability, effectiveness, cultural adaptation
  • Design, implementation and management of randomised controlled trials of complex interventions
  • Measurement tools: development, validation, usage, cultural adaptation
  • Co-production and participatory research; partnership with experts by experience, clinicians and other stakeholders
  • Qualitative methods, including process evaluation


Current Projects

  • A Randomised Controlled Trial of Psycho-education and Acceptance & Commitment Therapy for Parents of Children recently diagnosed with ASD (REACH-ASD Trial); funded by the NIHR Health Technology Assessment Programme

  • Communication-centred Parent-mediated treatment for Autism Spectrum Disorder in South Asia (COMPASS Trial); funded by the Medical Research Council Joint Global Health Trials Initiative

  • Empowering families of young children with autism to establish good oral health (ToothPASTE Project); funded by the NIHR Research for Patient Benefit Programme
  • The Paediatric Autism Communication Trial - Generalised (PACT-G Trial); funded by the NIHR Efficacy and Mechanism Evaluation Programme


Past Projects

  • Follow-up to the Preschool Autism Communication Trial at age 7-11 (PACT 7-11 Study)
  • Neurofibromatosis Type 1 and Autism Study
  • The Social Outcomes and Early Life Experiences Study (SOCiAL) 
  • The Parent-mediated intervention for Autism Spectrum Disorders in South Asia (PASS) study
  • Pre-school Autism Communication Trial

Areas of expertise

  • BF Psychology - Autism, Neurodiversity, Neurodevelopmental conditions, Intervention development and evaluation, Randomised Controlled Trials, Low Resource Settings, Wellbeing, quality of life and lived experience of people with ASD, Global Health, Participatory methods and community engagement, Communication, interaction and language

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

Sustainable Development Goals

Education / academic qualifications

  • 2009 - Doctor of Philosophy, Joint Attention in Verbally Able Children with Autism, Lancaster University
  • 2003 - Master of Science, Developmental Psychology, Lancaster University

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