In this, our fourth annual Salvesen Lecture, Professor Edmund Sonuga-Barke of King's College London asks "Does the neurodiversity concept provide a foundation for a new science of neurodevelopment?", drawing on decades of work primarily focused on ADHD and mental health. Edmund is joined by Dr Sylvan Baker, and Dr Susie Chandler and they share the latest news from the RE-STAR project - "Regulating Emotions – Strengthening Adolescent Resilience” - showcasing their creative and inclusive research approach with neurodivergent young people.
Edmund Sonuga-Barke is Professor of Developmental Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College London. Motivated by his own experience of growing up with learning difficulties, his research focuses on understanding the origins of neuro-developmental differences, particularly variations in attention and impulse control (i.e., ADHD), and their impact on mental health. To this end, he employs basic developmental science approaches to study the genetic and environmental bases of risk and resilience and the role of mediating brain processes. The ultimate goal of this work is to develop more effective interventions that reduce impairment and promote growth. Professor Sonuga-Barke is a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences and The British Academy. He is the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Child Psychology & Psychiatry.
Sylvan is a neurodiverse care leaver, practitioner and researcher who has been working across the fields of applied theatre, socially engaged arts and education for the past 30 years. His practice has taken place across the UK and globally in sites in Brazil, and the USA, in a diverse range of contexts and communities and has a specific interest in international interventions in sites of conflict and transitional justice. More recently his work has centred around developing research that allows its participants to be co-researchers and not objects of research. He is a Co-Investigator on the RE-STAR project.
Susie is a developmental psychologist who has spent the past twenty or so years working in autism research. Her research focuses on the developmental trajectories of autistic individuals, and the risk and protective factors associated with different outcomes. She is currently managing the MRC-funded programme Regulating Emotions-Strengthening Adolescent Resilience (RE-STAR).
Georgia Pavlopoulou is a lecturer based at University College London and the Strategic Director of All Ages Autism mental health workforce training at the Anna Freud Centre. She is the founder of the Group for Research in Relationships in Neurodiversity. Georgia is committed to creative participatory health and educational research to facilitate service transformation and advance mental health practice through better cross agency collaboration and better service user participation. Georgia is leading the qualitative research within RE-STAR.
Tiegan Boyens is a 21 year old University Student studying sociology who is autistic and dyslexic. Outside of this she does advocacy work around her experiences as an adoptee and is also doing work based on her experience of being neurodivergent, including RE-STAR which has helped her have more of an insight into her own experience as well as others. Tiegan is a member of the RE-STAR Youth Researcher Panel (Y-RP).
Bee Balwani is a 24-year-old junior doctor working in the NHS. As an autistic and ADHD healthcare professional, she is passionate about advocating for fellow neurodivergent patients and professionals, including challenging outdated narratives in research about the lived experience of autistic and ADHD individuals. She joined RE-STAR as part of the Youth Researcher Panel (Y-RP) in 2021.