School of Psychology

Staff Profiles

Dr Fiona Gullon-Scott

Lecturer (Research & Academic Tutor)

Background

Dr Gullon-Scott (nee Scott) holds a doctorate in psychology from the Institute of Psychiatry, University of London (1996) focussing on Reasoning and Imagination in Autism Spectrum Disorders. Following her PhD she held a lectureship at the University of Greenwich in the department of psychology, then moved to spend 7 years at the University of Cambridge Autism Research Centre working with Professor Simon Baron-Cohen. After her departure from there in 2005, Dr Gullon-Scott retained Honorary Visiting Academic status with the ARC through til 2012, and subsequently an Honorary Senior Lectureship with the Tizard Centre, University of Kent, a post which she still holds, and within which she provides teaching and academic supervision to undergraduate and postgraduate students on the Autism Studies courses. Her current role with Newcastle University as Research & Academic Tutor on the DCLinPsy course sits alongside this. Dr Gullon-Scott has also had several years collaborating with Prof Terry Brugha and his team at the University of Leicester exploring epidemiology of adults with autism spectrum disorders.

As well as her academic interests, Dr Gullon-Scott works as a consultant psychologist in the field of autism spectrum disorders across the lifespan. She has an Independent clinical practice specialising in ASD assessment and professional training, and has undertaken locum and consultancy work with the NHS relating to ASD services and assessment, and ASD training. As an International Trainer for ADOS, ADOS-2 and ADI-R she has travelled all around the World as well as widely throughout the UK, delivering training and providing consultancy to various groups, including the Singapore Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education, Sendai Health Service and the University in Japan, and autism services in Malta, Portugal, Hungary, and Finland to name but a few.

Dr Gullon-Scott is an Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society (BPS), a Chartered Psychologist and Chartered Scientist with the BPS, a Clinical Psychologist registered with the HCPC, a Senior Associate of the Royal Society of Medicine, and a member of the Society of Expert Witnesses.

Research interests include screening, identification and understanding of women and girls with ASD; exploration of cognitive processes in autism; epidemiology and screening of autism spectrum and asperger syndrome in child and adult populations; and newly developing research into forensic risk and presentation in ASD. During her academic career she has published many articles and book chapters, developed a DVD on asperger syndrome, designed and validated a screening tool for autism spectrum in mainstream children, been involved with the All Party Parliamentary Group for autism, the National Initiative for Assessment and Screening in Autism, a Department of Health report on Asperger Syndrome, many television, radio and newspaper articles on autism spectrum conditions, and has reviewed and refereed for many journals.

Research

In the early part of my career my research interests were largely around cognitive psychology of autism. This included exploration of reasoning skills and of imagination in autism, and research into local versus global visual processing preferences in autism. We still know little about imagination in autism, it is poorly defined, and this remains an area that would benefit from further exploration. Currently my interest in cognitive areas is being re-explored with research ideas looking in to predictive coding in autism.

After my PhD I then developed a research interest in screening, identification and epidemiology in autism, first in children then in adults. Whilst at the University of Cambridge I designed and validated a screening tool specifically to look for autism spectrum disorder in more able children in mainstream settings, who were still only aged 4-11 years, as part of a drive to improve identification of the Asperger Syndrome end of the spectrum at an earlier age. This tool, the CAST, is now widely used as an screen in many ASD services and CAMHS services across the UK, and has also been translated and used in Spain and more recently in China. The focus on epidemiology continued through collaboration with Prof Terry Brugha at the University of Leicester looking at prevalence of ASD in adults, both in the community and in residential placements.

My current research interests focus on female presentation of ASD and on improving identification. I am co-supervising a PhD student at the Tizard Centre, University of Kent, who is working on piloting a new screening tool - the FAAST (Female Adult Autism Spectrum Tool) - which we are developing to help adult MH services and GPs more quickly identify adolescent and adult women who may be presenting with an ASD. I am also co-supervising a Masters student conducting qualitative research interviewing women with ASD diagnoses about their experiences, strengths and difficulties. There is a lack of established or validated instruments that might be useful for assessment and diagnosis with women, we miss many cases, and our understanding of female presentations is less established than the typical 'male' profile.

Another developing area of research interest is looking into forensic presentations and overlaps in autism, both in males and females, and new collaborative research with colleagues from the forensic psychology masters team here at Newcastle. 



Teaching

 Within the DClin Psy programme I am the Course Lead for Neuropsychology and Child and Adolescent elements of the programme, joint lead on the Older Adults course, lead on the self-directed learning sessions, and co-facilitate the Research Methodology teaching. In addition I deliver some undergraduate teaching around psychopathology, as well as supervisory roles to undergraduate and masters students from the wider Psychology school.

I also hold a concurrent Honorary Senior Lecturer position with the Tizard Centre, University of Kent, where I am involved in developing and delivering materials for the undergraduate and postgraduate Autism courses, teaching seminar groups within those courses, co-supervising PhD and masters students, and have recently developed a new online MOOC on autism on the Futurelearn platform.

Publications