My name is Hayley, and I am a PhD student at Kingston University.

In 2009 I graduated with a Masters of Science in Applied Child Psychology, having completed a dissertation on Autism Spectrum Disorders.  My dissertation was research based so I traveled and met people with a wide range of ASD symptoms.  I found this interaction with adolescents with ASD remarkable.  Looking at the literature I should have been dealing with a group of people who were anti-social, right?  Autism is a problem using and developing social skills, right?  Wrong.  What has trickled into the media about Autism and how it affects the people who have it is the perception that people with Autism are severely impaired socially.  Although the differences socially can be notable, I felt I didn’t meet a group of people who were not social.

So I developed a perception…  Understanding autism isn’t about how people with ASD don’t interact “properly”, it’s about how society can misunderstand the way that people with ASD are communicating.  It’s not the deepest psychological perception, I know, but I wonder if the neurology of ASD was more understood, we may have more understanding in society, decreasing incidents of adult isolation…

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My PhD Research

I am looking for children and young people to participate in research on complex emotion understanding in autism spectrum disorders. I hope to explore the way that children and adolescents read faces and decode emotions using a scientific framework.  I hope this will help science adopt a greater understanding of how everybody interprets emotions at different developmental ages, including people with Autism.  Perhaps some of this may trickle into the main stream.



I was inspired by the 2011 silent film The Artist, a film that develops meaning entirely through non-verbal communication.  I was really fortunate to be granted the rights to use the film, by the production company La Petite Reine.  (If you are thinking of letting your child take part, please keep the name of the film hush hush; I don’t want to any last minute revision…).  Using extracts from the silent film. I will be inviting your child into Kingston University to take part in a task that involves looking at faces from the film and interpreting emotions.  As they watch the film, I will be using the Tobii T120 eye tracker, to investigate how children with ASD and without use their eyes when they are coding emotions.

My research will be taking place from August at Kingston University. I am looking for children and young people aged 8-18 with a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorders and those who do not have ASD.

It may be a good reason to navigate the school holiday activities around the summer fun or avoid any rain showers but it is also an opportunity for children and young people to find out what it’s like to work on current scientific research in a university setting. Whatever your motivation, you will have a warm welcome at Kingston University.

Transport from London zones to the University will be re-paid and anyone who takes part in the study will receive a £5 book voucher.

If your child is happy to take part, please contact me on or

When you contact, I will give you the full details of the task including how long I would need to work with you/your child. Many thanks for considering taking part in research into complex emotions and Autism Spectrum Disorders.