I trained and qualified as a social worker in the early 1980s and worked in both residential and local authority social work roles. I have a long standing interest in people with learning disability, particularly children and in more recent years, those with the most profound impairments, including complex health care needs, sensory impairments and cognitive impairments. From the late 1990s until 2008 I was a researcher at the Norah Fry Research Centre, University of Bristol, working on a range of funded studies concerning services for disabled people and their families. I have also carried out freelance research for a number of national organisations.
I have a keen interest in research ethics and have served on three Research Ethics Committees at the University of Bristol.
I have recently completed a PhD, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, at the Graduate School of Education, University of Bristol. My study is on playfulness and children with profound and multiple learning disabilities.
I am involved with a local play site for disabled children and I help to run arts-based workshops for disabled children at my local arts centre. My main motivation is that I have a strongly held belief that the essential ‘child’ is often lost in research about disabled children and the focus can be negative, emphasising deficits and problems. My aim is to carry out research which promotes the view that disabled children have the same sense of playfulness and fun that all children have, but it is sometimes harder for them to express it. The challenge is to find ways to support profoundly disabled children that encourage this aspect of their lives and it is hoped that some of the resources and ideas on this website will go some way towards this. Please get in touch via the ‘contact me’ page if you would like more information – I always enjoy hearing from people with similar interests!