ACE Centre - our research
Title - Discriminating symptoms of Autism and Disinhibited Social Engagement Disorder via structured observation: the development of a clinical diagnostic tool
Start date June 2016 / end date November 2019
My area of investigation involves children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and children with Disinhibited Social Engagement Disorder (DSED - formerly Disinhibited RAD, DSM-IV) may be present with overlapping symptoms of social relationship and communication problems. Accurate differential diagnosis is of the essence as DSED is associated with severe early maltreatment and ASD is not (Rutter, 2005). Drawing on pilot work, the aim of the PhD is to develop a new structured observation tool which focuses on the differences in interaction / communication between ASD and DSED, in order to support differential diagnosis.
Title - Investigating the social work and legal systems around maltreated children coming into care
Start date March 2016 / end date March 2021
My area of investigation involves exploring the views of legal practitioners (judges, sheriffs, children's panel members and lawyers) in relation to the welfare of children, in relationship between the rights of children and the rights of their birth parents. I am interested in developing an understnading of the emphasis placed by these practitioners on children's development and welfare. I will also be looking at quantitatively mapping the decisions taken at legal fora and their relationship with longer term mental health outcomes.
Dr Gracia Mwimba
Title - Exploration of the association between routinely collected datasets of childhood wellbeing / adversity and future social, educational and mental health needs in order to create a screening of childhood vulnerabilities / strengths
Start date August 2016 / End date August 2021
My area of investigation aims to explore the combined effect of Attachment difficulties, Childhood adverse events/ trauma and Neurodevelopmental difficulties as areas which increase likelihood of developing future enduring mental health, social and educational difficulties. I would like to analyse the possible association between routinely collected high scoring Strength and Difficulties, language, relationship and adverse childhood events questionnaires and to link these with social, education and mental health outcomes. Our main aim is to develop an accessible tool which will allow early screening of children leading to early interventions and alteration of a trajectory to severe and enduring mental illness and social difficulties.
Title - Feasilbity of developing a psychological intervention to support mothers within NHS Addition Services who have had their children removed
Start date October 2015 / end date 2021
My area of investigation aims to develop a psychological intervention for mothers within NHS Addiction Services who have had their children removed from their care and training for staff who work with this group of mothers. The study has three stages. 1 - A data scoping exercise looking at the number of parents within Addiction Services and how many have had children removed from their care. 2 - A qualitative study with mothers who have had children removed and staff who work with this group of women to design the intervention and training package. 3 - Running and evaluating the intervention and training.
Title - The foster care system: how does it contribute to the mental health and development of maltreated young children?
Start date October 2015 / end date October 2018
My area of investigation involves a mixed-methods PhD looking at the foster care system from the lens of 'commitment' as previously research by Mary Dozier. The qualitative work is looking at perceptions of key groups (e.g. foster carers, recruiters/trainers, assessment services) about the impact of the foster care system on maltreated young children and unpacking what these views mean in relation to commitment. The congruence between the views of foster carers, assessment services and recruiters/trainers is a focus, as is the relationship between time and commitment (e.g. exploring identified differences between the short-term and long-term carers in their role perceptions). The quantitative part of the work will investigate the relationship between the foster carer commitment and mental health outcomes, as directly measured by assessment of infants coming into foster care. This PhD will provide insight into whether there is a congruence in the foster care system about the best ways to meet the needs of young children who have suffered abuse and/or neglect from a lens of foster care commitment. This includes an understanding about what different key groups in the foster care system mean by commitment and how it relates to the current system. It will also provide outcome data in terms of whether foster carer commitment impacts on the mental health and wellbeing of this group of children.