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Durham University

Centre for Developmental Disorders


Future Events

Would you like us to come and give a talk at your school, college, group, network? If so let us know by emailing

On the 'News' page see an example of a recent workshop we gave at a school in Darlington on Autism - attended by over 30 teachers and classroom assistants who varied from no experience teaching pupils with Autism, to having over 15 years experience - teacher feedback on the workshop was excellent.

We are also visiting SENCO network meetings to give talks around the region.

In March 2020 we ran a half-day workshop for approximately 30 Educational Psychologists in County Durham and it was excellent to run this type of event - if you are interested in this sort of activity please let us know.

Let us know the sorts of workshops and events you might like us to run in your group / school etc.

Previous Events

Public Lecture December 2019 - The Hidden Face of Autism

We were thrilled to have Dr Will Mandy (UCL) giving the next Public Lecture on Thursday 5th December 2019 on the topic of 'The Hidden Face of Autism: Understanding the characteristics and needs of autistic girls and women'.

It was great that we had so much interest in this event and that over 180 people came along to hear Dr Mandy give this talk - thanks to all who attended.

National Williams Syndrome Researchers Meeting

In September 2019 we hosted a meeting of approximately 40 Williams Syndrome researchers, in collaboration with the Williams Syndrome Foundation, UK (WSF). The meeting was a great opportunity to hear about new research projects and progress within the fields of cognition, behaviour, and education associated with WS. The two day event included talks and poster presentation from researchers at all stages of their career. Crucially, we heard the views of parents of children with WS in terms of research impact and relevance to the real world experiences of families and individuals with WS. We hope that there will be future events of this time to bring together this research community.

The event also included a social networking meal at Durham Castle.

We are hugely grateful for the support and involvement of the WSF in this event.

Public Lecture June 2019

We were thrilled that the 2019 Public Lecture for the Centre for Developmental Disorders was given by Dr Joni Holmes who discussed her recent research on transdiagnostic approaches to understanding the causes of developmental learning problems - 'why do some children struggle in the classroom'?. Joni is the Head of the ‘Centre for Attention Learning and Memory’ at the Medical Research Council’s Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, University of Cambridge (CBU). You can visit joni's homepage here:

The event was held on the 12th June 2019 with the lecture from 5-6pm in L50. There were over 80 attendees from teachers, to educational psychologists, clinical psychologists, researchers, students, parents ..... what a great mix of attendees!

Annual Neurodevelopmental Disorders Seminar (2018 Coventry)

A significant number of our team will be presenting posters and oral presentations at the annual meeting of this conference in Coventry. We are pleaased that Emily will give a talk on attention and academic achievement in pupils with an ASD, Emine will give a talk on academic and social challenges for University students with an ASD, and Debbie will give a talk on the mechanisms underlying anxiety in Williams Syndrome. Posters will be presented on our GeniSys project involving family systems analysis, and our project on parental wellbeing.

2018 Annual Public Lecture - RESCHEDULING

This event was postponed due to snow so will take place later in 2018....update to follow

Professor Edmund Sonuga-Barke (Prof of Developmental Psychology, Psychiatry & Neuroscience, Kings College London)

Jointly hosted by the Department of Psychology and the School of Education

more to follow shortly on News page

SEATTLE Club Conference for research on intellectual and developmental disabilities

18-19th December 2017

Visit our page on the Seattle Club conference to hear all about this event

National Williams Syndrome Awareness Day Events

Cakes and Coffee while raising awareness

19th May 2017

Department of Psychology

more to follow...


Anxiety and the Autisms: Mice, Mindfulness and Other Mechanisms

Friday, 17th February 2017, 16:00, D/L47.

Speaker: Dr Mikle South (Brigham Young University)

Abstract: Many people who are diagnosed with autism also experience elevated symptoms of anxiety that cause significant discomfort and impairment. A better understanding of how people diagnosed with autism respond to their environment may improve knowledge about how anxiety and autism are linked in the brain, and also help to develop more specific interventions. This talk provides an overview of three possible contributions to anxiety in autism: a) atypical processing of sensory information from the environment, including data from both human and animal models of anxiety; b) elevated worry about things that are uncertain or unknown; and c) neuroimaging data describing the brain response to threat, including ways in which limited flexibility in ASD may lead to difficulty moving between threatening and safe conditions. I end with a provocative model suggesting that anxiety could be a simpler construct than traditionally described, and discussion of next steps for research as well as important implications for everyday clinical practice

Considering Cross-Syndrome Comparisons

Dr Mikle South (Brigham Young University)

Monday 13th February 2017, 13.00, L48

Present ideas on the way to preparation for a collaborative ESRC grant application on this topic -
including theoretical and measurement plans and questions...

Mechanisms of change in early communicative development

Friday, 27th January, 16:00, D/L47.

Speaker: Dr Danielle Matthews (Sheffield University)

Abstract: Over the first few years of life, infants discover that they can communicate with others through vocalisations, gestures and eventually symbolic devices such as words. Through natural and true experiments, we have been studying what predicts the onset and later trajectory of these skills. At the heart of this work are 140 infants from socio-economically diverse families whose language experience and communicative abilities we have been charting from 11 months to 4 years. I will report on a randomised controlled trial run to test the efficacy of a parenting intervention to promote early child language and on a series of longitudinal analyses of individual differences.