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Projects and research

Boy and teacher examining a skeleton

We regularly take part in research projects with universities and institutes.
Your child’s daily school routine includes fresh new approaches gathered from the most up-to-date, evidence-based research.

Understanding behaviour

Sybil Elgar was one of three NAS schools that assisted the University of Birmingham in examining the reasons behind self-injury. This research helped us to understand what leads a child to self harm, to put new strategies in place to help self-harming children to cope and to find new, more effective ways to respond.

Current research

Remote Consultancy for Self-injurious Behaviour (SIB) in Young Children with Autism: A pilot project. Funded by The National Autistic Society, September 2010 to November 2011

This pilot project is designed to evaluate the effects and logistics of an external consultancy and staff training package on levels of self-injurious behaviour in children attending a specialist autism school. Consultancy, which will be focused on data-based assessment, decision-making and intervention for self-injurious behaviour, will be delivered via email, telephone, web-based video consultation and limited site visits. The staff training package will be delivered during workshops (face to face and via video-conference). Other effects of the package will also be explored such as staff feelings of competency and level of knowledge when dealing with SIB pre and post-training

Helping with ways to learn

The Institute of Education, University of London collaborated with Sybil Elgar to assess how drama helps children with autism to learn better. This research helped us to understand how the structured environment of a drama rehearsal offers children and young people increased confidence, confidence that they can learn. Within a rehearsal, and with the support of the teachers, children can practise social situations, and imagine others, without risking failure or censure.  The resulting significant increase in a child’s confidence to learn was also shown when children were involved with dancing, producing music and making art. Read more online

Other projects

With the Institute of Education, Sybil Elgar is currently looking at a project investigating the sleep patterns of siblings who have brothers or sisters with autism. Many parents report that their children have a number of problems with sleep, and there is a large amount of evidence that sleep problems can have a detrimental effect on behaviour, health, and psychological and social functioning in children. It is important that we learn what the sleep problems are in individuals living with siblings developmental disorders, and their impact on daytime functioning.

Our professionals also conduct their own small scale action research projects. At the moment we are looking at the importance of learning from everyday activities to help social communication skills and emotional self-regulation at key stages 1 and 2 for children with autism. From baseline assessments using PEP-3 from Division TEACCH we will explore whether specific approaches can better support the development of social communication and emotional regulation.

"We want The National Autistic Society to be at the forefront of research and our practice to be informed and evidence-based."

Dr Irina Roncaglia, chartered practitioner psychologist, Sybil Elgar