The Tizard Centre
profile image for  Serena Tomlinson (formerly Brady)

Serena Tomlinson (formerly Brady)

PhD student and lecturer


Serena is a PhD student at Tizard. She achieved a First Class Honours in a BSc in Applied Psychology from the University of Kent in 2012, and achieved a Distinction in a Postgraduate Diploma in Applied Behaviour Analysis from the University of Kent in 2015. She has recently been appointed as a lecturer in ABA/PBS (Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities).

Serena has previously worked within services for children with intellectual and developmental disabilities for 4 years. This has included residential specialist schooling for children with ASD and challenging behaviour; placements with clinical psychologists in the NHS; short break services for children with disabilities; and one-to-one care support for individual children with intellectual disabilities.

Serena has taught on undergraduate and postgraduate modules relating to research methods and ethics, Autism Spectrum Disorder, and challenging behaviour.

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Gore, N. G., Brady, S., Cormack, M., McGill, P., Schurlock, J., Jackson-Brown, F., . . . & Wedge, S. (2015). Residential Placements for Children and Young People with Intellectual Disabilities: Their use and implications for adult social care. London, UK: NIHR School for Social Care Research.

Gore, N. J., & Brady, S. (2013). The Early-Positive Approaches to Support (E-PAtS) Project. International Journal of Positive Behavioural Support, 3(2), 51-51. Retrieved from

Gore, N. J., Emerson, E., & Brady, S. (2015). Rates of breastfeeding and exposure to socio-economic adversity amongst children with intellectual disability. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 39(1), 12-19. doi: 10.1016/j.ridd.2014.12.028

Gore, N. J., Hastings, R., & Brady, S. (2014). Early intervention for children with learning disabilities: Making use of what we know. Tizard Learning Disability Review, 19(4), 181-189. doi: 10.1108/TLDR-08-2013-0037

Miller, P., Hards, M., Gore, N. J., & Brady, S. (2013). The Autism Champions Project: Strengthening capacity within and across schools. Good Autism Practice, 14(2), 33-37. Retrieved from

Reid, C., Gill, F., Gore, N. J., & Brady, S. (2015). New ways of seeing and being: Evaluating an acceptance and mindfulness group for parents of young people with intellectual disabilities who display challenging behaviour. Journal of Intellectual Disabilities [Early Online View], 1-13. doi: 10.1177/1744629515584868

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Serena have also worked on an NIHR School for Social Care Research funded project with Prof. Peter McGill and Dr. Nick Gore, relating to transition to adult social care from residential school for young people with intellectual / developmental disabilities. The project aims to identify the type and location of adult support settings where individuals are placed following transition from a residential school, and to examine factors which lead to this placement being in- or out-of-area.

Serena’s PhD focuses on early intervention within a UK context for children with intellectual disabilities who display challenging behaviour. Specifically, Serena is investigating the feasibility of using Functional Communication Training (FCT) with young children and training family carers to implement all procedures. Whilst previous research in other countries has suggested that FCT may be effective for this group of children, there are no examples of such support being provided within a UK context in which the services and support offered to families early in their child’s life may differ significantly from that provided elsewhere. In addition, Serena will investigate adaptations to FCT delivery methods through the use of telehealth, and the social validity of such methods amongst family carers and professionals.

Serena has previously worked on the Early-Positive Approaches to Support project with Dr. Nick Gore investigating early intervention for challenging behaviour in children with intellectual disabilities. This included liaising with and advising other professionals in their early intervention work as well as developing new interventions to support parents of children with intellectual disabilities.
She has also provided Research Assistant consultancy to two organisations relating to developing resources for families of individuals with intellectual disabilities who are involved in the Criminal Justice System, and for family carers and commissioners relating to Positive Behavioural Support.
During her undergraduate degree Serena conducted two research projects, both of which were disseminated directly to services or submitted for publication. The first of these projects was a qualitative study examining the experiences of parents who had recently attended an ASD diagnostic clinic. The second of these projects formed her final year project and examined the effects of ethnic diversity on children’s willingness to acknowledge ethnicity and disability.
Serena’s research interests include early intervention for challenging behaviour in children with intellectual disabilities; behavioural phenotypes, particularly gene x environment interactions relating to challenging behaviour; Applied Behavioural Analysis; and Autism Spectrum Disorders.

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Serena is a Tizard Assessor and is part of the Autism Spectrum Disorders Assessment Team within Tizard.

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Tizard Centre, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7LR

Telephone: +44(0)1227 827373 or contact us

Last Updated: 23/11/2017