Joanne McCulloch

Joanne McCulloch


I am married with a grown up daughter and son.  My son has severe Autism Spectrum Condition and is non-verbal.  He also has a learning disability and epilepsy and I have over seventeen years’ experience managing a comprehensive care package for him.  I am an also an experienced ABA (Applied Behaviour Analysis) Tutor and have delivered individualised tuition to children and young people who have ASC in home, school and community settingsI regularly liaise with a wide range of professionals as part of a multi-disciplinary team.  This includes presenting data based evidence and providing verbal and written advice to professionals from education, health and social care.  I have also provided Applied Behaviour Analysis theory training to numerous undergraduate and masters students and many of them have been based here at Leeds.

I developed an interest in psychology through these experiences and I studied BSc (Hons) Psychology with The Open University alongside my work and caring commitments on a part time basis.  My undergraduate research project was a phenomenological analysis of the experiences of professionals who support young people who have Autism Spectrum Conditions in social situations and I thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of my research, particularly the independent nature of the work.  For me this was without doubt the most rewarding aspect of my undergraduate study and prompted me to undertake my PhD.  I very much hope to work in an academic research role upon completion.

I am a member of the British Psychological Society.

Research interests

I have a broad interest in mental health and wellbeing in young people who have an Autism Spectrum Condition.  I am particularly interested in the potential role of the teacher or caregiver’s response in the development of interventions to improve mood regulation, promote wellbeing and maintain positive behaviour.

My PhD research will use qualitative methods and will draw on ethnographic and phenomenological methodologies to explore the experiences of students who have an Autism Spectrum Condition.  My research will aim to understand how these students experience supportive relationships and how these relationships impact on their wellbeing.  A key priority of the study is to include students who have more severe communication difficulties and learning disabilities and to use methods that do not rely solely on language.

In summary, my research interests are:

  • Autism Spectrum Condition, particularly in young people who are severely affected
  • Learning Disabilities
  • Working with non-verbal participants
  • Mental health and wellbeing
  • Supportive relationships
  • Behaviour Analysis
  • Inter-disciplinary work that uses mixed-method approaches to help ensure that young people with complex needs are actively involved and fully represented in research

I enjoy collaborative working and since my interests lie in both psychology and education, I am very interested in interdisciplinary research.  I am always keen to meet and discuss ideas with other researchers and students whose interests or experiences align with my own and I would love to hear from anyone carrying out similar work.


  • BSc (Hons) Psychology