Doctoral Researcher with the Autism Centre for Education and Research (ACER)
Sara is a Doctoral Researcher studying for her PhD with the Autism Centre for Education and Research (ACER) at the University of Birmingham. Her PhD is exploring autistic women and birthing people’s experiences of maternity services and maternity staff understanding and experience of supporting autistic people. She is autistic, with other autistic family members. She works as an autism trainer and specialist autism mentor and is committed to learning more about autistic people’s experiences to help improve services. Sara has developed and delivered training for social workers, teachers and NHS staff. She also works for an autism charity, leading a discussion group for autistic women and another for autistic parents.
Sara is also works as Training Lead at Bridge Mentoring, offering autism-specific specialist mentoring and training services.
Find out more about Sara's work and research on her website here.
Diane Fox RM PGCPSE
MARG Vice Chair
Midwife and Researcher
Author of Royal College of Midwives online learning on Autism and Pregnancy
Diane is currently studying for a Masters in Education. She is autistic and has lived experience of autism in her family. She is a member of NHS England and Improvement (NHSE/I) Midlands Autism Expert by Experience Focus Group.
Diane has a specialist interest in promoting understanding and acceptance of Autism in Midwifery to improve care provision. She has collaborated with the RCM to develop e-learning on Autism and Pregnancy. In 2022 she presented at the RCM Education and Research Conference. She has collaborated with The Perinatal Institute to have Autism information included in the NHS Pregnancy Notes.
Please contact Diane if you require any further information, training or consultation for your organisation, or one to one support.
RCM i-learn module - Autism and Pregnancy: https://www.ilearn.rcm.org.uk
Dr Aimee Grant
Senior Researcher at Swansea University and Author
Aimee Grant is a senior research officer at Swansea University with a life long interest in health and inequality. Since 2012, she has focused on pregnancy and maternity in marginalised groups, including women living in poverty, those with rheumatic diseases, and most recently Autistic people. In her work, Aimee uses a broad range of methods and approaches, but is an expert in qualitative research, in particular documentary analysis. She has written a ‘how to guide’ for researchers new to the method, and a book of documentary analysis case studies. Aimee has also considered the impact of her being Autistic on how she does research with Helen Kara.
Karen Henry (RM)
Midwife and Researcher
Midwifery Lecturer, University of Suffolk
Karen is a midwife, researcher and lecturer in midwifery at the University of Suffolk. She has 5 children and was diagnosed as autistic alongside her fourth and fifth children in 2009. Whilst training to be a midwife in 2015, Karen noticed that autistic women accessing maternity care were often unprepared for a stay in hospital with its unfamiliar noises, smells, people and routines. She also recognised that maternity staff did not receive sufficient autism training to be able to support autistic parents. In 2019 Karen was nominated for a Florence Nightingale scholarship and was supported to create a series of communication support plans. The idea of the plans is for women to share their support needs with maternity staff to make care in hospitals and clinics more accessible for them. The plans were developed further in 2020 to incorporate information sharing from maternity staff so that women know what to expect during their pregnancy, birth and the postnatal period.
Karen completed a Master of Arts in autism in 2022 and is passionate about enhancing autistic peoples maternity experiences through co-producing training packages for maternity staff. Ultimately, she envisages a maternity service where women feel safe and supported enough to thrive and embrace parenthood.
Rebecca Warboys (RM)
Midwife and Researcher
Becky has been a midwife since 2014 and recently qualified as a teacher. She has just completed the second year of a three year Masters of Education in Autism at the University of Strathclyde. She is planning to write her dissertation on a topic related to woman and birthing people's experiences of using maternity services in the UK. Becky is mum to four autistic children ages between 12 and nearly 20 and has an autistic husband. She vice chairs York parent carer forum and chairs York SENDIASS steering group. Ultimately Becky hopes to be an active part of instilling change to individualise maternity care for autistic women and birthing people in the UK.
Researcher and Author
Hayley began writing about the autistic birth experience in 2015. Pregnant with her second child, her formal diagnosis of autism meant she learned about herself and her child on what would be a beautiful journey. Inspired to learn more about her neurotype, Hayley joined MSc Autism and Related Conditions at Swansea University Medical School. While completing this degree, she wrote for online magazines, blogs and more before submitting her MSc dissertation survey on the autistic birth experience.
At the start of 2021 Hayley secured a book deal to co-author a book on the topic with JKP publishers and started her PhD on the autistic birth experience. This work is currently focused on specific issues raised from her MSc data i.e. autonomy, consent, capacity and specific barriers.
Researcher and Author
Alexis Quinn is an autistic activist and author of Autistic and Expecting, a pregnancy and parenting guide for neurodiverse people and her memoir, Unbroken. Alexis currently manages the Restraint Reduction Network, a charity that seeks to reduce reliance on restrictive practices across education, health, and social care. Alexis is currently studying a Masters at Greenwich University and she is interested in micro-aggressive relating and cumulative trauma.
BEd Hons, PGCert Educational Studies; PGCert Psychodynamic Practice
Researcher and Non-Exec Director at Autistic UK
Kat is a PhD student researching the role of communication in access to healthcare. She is also a non-executive director at Autistic UK, an autistic led organisation focusing on systems advocacy to improve the lives of autistic people, and to enable autistic people advocate for themselves. She leads Autistic UK’s research involvement, most recently working on a number of projects with Dr Aimee Grant from Swansea University. Their most recent paper regarding autistic women’s experiences of infant feeding has been widely publicised in the media including being the lead story on BBC Wales lunchtime news. An accessible summary of the findings can be found here.
Kat is also on the Shaw Trust Disability Power 100 List for 2021.
Postgraduate Researcher at Edge Hill University
Trustee of Autistic Parents UK
Shona Murphy is a Post graduate researcher at Edge Hill university exploring fabricated or induced illness in autistic children. She completed her MA in autism at Sheffield Hallam university where she researched the pros and cons of being an autistic parent. Shona is an autistic parent to two autistic children, teaches people about autism and is on the board of Autistic Parents UK which was setup to provide peer support and other services which benefit autistic parents.
Consultant Occupational Therapist
Advanced Practitioner in Sensory Integration Therapy (SIPT certified)
BSc (Hons) Occupational Therapy, MSc Sensory Integration, PG Cert in Sensory Integration, PG Dip in Sensory Integration.
Moyna Talcer is a Consultant Occupational Therapist who is passionate about working with and for neurodiverse people throughout the life span. Having worked for over 15 years within the NHS, Moyna then set up her own independent company in 2015 after the arrival of her son, and has since designed and built her own clinic. In 2021, Moyna compleated her MSc in Sensory Integration at Ulster University and published her research on the "Sensory experiences of autistic mothers" in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. Moyna continues to be involved in various research projects and studies and has spoken at confrences and on podcasts about various related topics. Moyna is passionate about elevating autistic voices within research and improving access to healthcare and support.
Moyna is neurodivergent herself and has found her own experiences to be of huge benefit and insight when supporting her own clients and their families. She volunteers for her local National Autistic Society Branch, providing clinical guidance, advice and training to members.
Follow link to access Moyna’s research:
Follow link to access Moyna’s Podcast and transcript:
Strategic Autism Lead
I am an autistic person with autistic children. I am a trained adult nurse and midwife, however went straight into working as a neonatal intensive care nurse. Due to personal experiences of perinatal mental illness and emerging research demonstrating long term impact on neurodevelopment of neonates and foetuses from parental mental illness; I developed a particular interest in the psychological impact of NICU on parents and bonding/ attachment.
My Masters dissertation focussed on this area and it led me to think about broader psychosocial implications of perinatal mental health. As a lecturer at UEA (University of Eat Anglia) I redesigned the neonatal intensive care course to include the role of mental health on neurodevelopment. I also taught student midwives and student paediatric nurses.
My interest in this area prompted a career change to perinatal mental health. I developed insight in to current provision for autistic people within maternity and perinatal services as well as clinician level of understanding/ awareness of autism within perinatal and maternity service.
I am working with a clinical psychologist to set up a pathway for neurodivergent people in perinatal services locally. I have provided a talk to RCPSYCH (Royal college of Psychiatry) on the maternity experiences for autistic people based on some research I have done, as well professional and personal experience with a particular emphasis on interpretations and management of sensory processing differences.
My current role is working on a project to set an adult autism pathway, within a local ICB. The research I am doing on local provision in services I will use for my PhD. I am involved with projects in and around London in to the maternity services for autistic people. I am very passionate about addressing health inequalities for autistic people.
Dr Gemma Williams PhD
ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow
University of Brighton
Dr Gemma Williams is an autistic early career researcher based at the University of Brighton. Her Linguistics PhD research investigated the communication breakdowns that can sometimes occur between autistic and non-autistic people. Her current postdoctoral fellowship is focused in taking these findings and applying them to health and social care settings.
Gemma has worked as a Maternity Auxiliary Nurse for several years prior to entering academia, and completed half of her midwifery training. Her research interests lie in communication, social justice, autistic sensory processing, autistic health inequities, loneliness and social isolation.
Tonia Griffin (RM)
Perinatal Mental Health Specialist Midwife
Neurodiversity Maternity Champion
Tonia has been a Midwife since 2017 and has worked in all maternity settings such as: Labour Ward, Antenatal and Postnatal Wards, Community, Young Persons Continuity of Care Team and is currently a Perinatal Mental Health Specialist Midwife. Following the birth of her second child, Tonia received a formal diagnosis of Autism which felt like a huge weight had been lifted. She began to understand herself and why she felt very different to the rest of the world around her. After experiencing perinatal mental health difficulties herself and whilst working as a Midwife, Tonia noticed the huge gap in guidance, training and care accessible to Neurodivergent people. This led her to become a Neurodiversity Champion and helped her maternity service bid for funding for a maternity specialist in this area. Tonia is extremely passionate about improving care and services for Neurodivergent expectant people, as well as training professionals to deliver high quality care.
Postdoctoral researcher at the University of York
Sarah is a researcher with an interest in healthcare inequalities and patient experiences. Her PhD
focused on the pregnancy, birth and postnatal experiences of autistic parents, including perinatal
physical and mental health, experiences of perinatal healthcare, and parenting. Sarah has authored
several academic papers in these areas and uses a broad range of quantitative and qualitative
methods in her research. She is neurodivergent herself and aims to conduct neurodiversity affirming
research that can have a meaningful impact on people’s experiences.
Emily is a La Leche League Leader with LLLGB and chair of a Maternity & Neonatal Voices Partnership. She is experienced in supporting women and parents to breastfeed autistic children, and supporting breastfeeding after birth trauma. Emily has a keen interest in the experiences of autistic people giving birth, breastfeeding and their birth choices including home and free birth.