Institute of Neuroscience

Staff Profile

Emerita Professor Helen McConachie

Emerita Professor


Research Interests

My research has focussed mainly on individuals with disabilities and their families. In several projects we have evaluated approaches to intervention for children, and reviewed or developed appropriate outcome measures. I also aimed to understand what underpins behaviours: for example, how parent-child interaction can facilitate development of communication skills, and how neuropsychological processes link to repetitive behaviours and anxiety in ASD. (See  research website Recently I have co-led projects which involve autistic adults, including adaptation of a quality of life outcome measure.

Other Expertise

I have a long-standing research and training link with a network of child development centres in Bangladesh (



Current and Recent

What interventions, which could be delivered at home by parents, are available to improve eating in young children with neurodisability and are suitable for investigation in pragmatic trials? HTA, March 2017-October 2019.£308,193.  Systematic reviews and consultation. Role: Co-I.

Measuring quality of life in adults on the autism spectrum: making a questionnaire fit for purpose. Research Autism, April 2016-March 2017.   £50,130  Adaptation and validation of quality of life measure. Role: PI.

The Paediatric Autism Communication Trial - Generalised (PACT-G).  EME, February 2016- December 2019         £1,949,200. Multi-site randomised control trial of social-communication intervention for children with autism. Role: Co-I.

A feasibility study of using an immersive virtual reality environment to reduce anxiety in children with autism spectrum disorder. NIHR Research for Patient Benefit, Feb 2015 – Nov 2016.  £191,581. Feasibility and pilot RCT of treatment for anxiety in ASD. Role: Co-I.

Randomised controlled trial of improvisational music therapy for children with autism spectrum disorders: UK arm of the TIME-A study. 2014-2016. NIHR Health Technology Assessment   £617,573. UK arm of international trial of music therapy. Role: Co-I.         

Learning about the lives of adults on the autism spectrum and their relatives.  Autistica. March 2014- Feb 2017.    £199,976 Establishment of a cohort of autistic adults for longitudinal study. Role: Co-I.

DIADS - Diagnostic Instruments for Autism in Deafness Study. MRC June 2013- Dec 2016    £472,678  To develop and validate assessment tools for individuals with hearing impairment. Role: Co-I.

How can health services contribute most effectively to facilitating successful transition of young people with complex health needs from childhood to adulthood? NIHR Programme Grant, Jan 2012- Dec 2016  £1, 999, 697   To monitor transition of young people, including ASD, to adult services. Role: Co-I.

Establishing an ASD Research Register through UK paediatricians.  Autistica 2010-Sept 2017   £370,334   To set up a national ASD Family Research database. Role: Co-PI.

Establishing a registry of children with autistic spectrum disorder in Northeast England. Northern Rock Foundation, 2002-17; six local authorities; Autistica; The Children’s Foundation.  Database for representative recruitment of children to research studies.  Role: PI.  

MeASURe: Measurement in autism spectrum disorder under review. NIHR HTA, June 2012 – February 2014.         £271,946.     To review systematically outcome measures suitable for young children with ASD.  Role: PI.

Pre-school autism intervention and autism development: a longitudinal follow up of the Preschool Autism Communication Trial (PACT)  MRC Feb 2013 -  Sep 2014.    £680,000   To test hypotheses about development over time in a well-described cohort of children. Role: Co-I.