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

Serena Tomlinson (formerly Brady)

Lecturer in ABA/PBS (Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities)


Serena joined the Tizard Centre in 2012 and was appointed as a Lecturer in 2017. She has a first class honours BSc in Applied Psychology and a PDip in Applied Behaviour Analysis. She is also currently undertaking a PhD in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.

Serena initially joined the Tizard Centre in 2012 as a Research Assistant and has worked on a number of applied projects focusing on early intervention, family carer support and transition. Alongside this, she began teaching at the Centre in 2013 before being appointed as a Lecturer in 2017. Serena’s teaching focuses on Applied Behaviour Analysis and Positive Behaviour Support, and she continues to carry out applied research through her PhD studies and involvement in other research projects at the Centre.
Prior to joining the Centre, Serena worked in a range of applied settings with children and young people with intellectual or developmental disabilities, including residential specialist education for children with Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASC) and challenging behaviour; placements with clinical psychologists in the NHS; short break services; and one-to-one support for children with intellectual disabilities.


Serena teaches on a range of undergraduate and postgraduate modules at the Centre, primarily focused on the Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) and Positive Behaviour Support (PBS) courses. She also provides teaching on other undergraduate and postgraduate courses on a number of topics including research methods, ethics, ASC, early intervention and challenging behaviour. She supervises students completing the theory pathway on the ABA / PBS courses and Masters students working on their dissertation projects.

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Also view these in the Kent Academic Repository

Tomlinson, S., Gore, N. and McGill, P. (2018). Training Individuals to Implement Applied Behavior Analytic Procedures via Telehealth: A Systematic Review of the Literature. Journal of Behavioral Education [Online]. Available at:
Tomlinson, S. et al. (2017). Trends in the provision of residential educational placements available for young people with learning disabilities/autism in England. Tizard Learning Disability Review [Online] 22:222-229. Available at:
Reid, C. et al. (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 [Online] 20:1-13. Available at:
Gore, N., Emerson, E. and Brady, S. (2015). Rates of breastfeeding and exposure to socio-economic adversity amongst children with intellectual disability. Research in Developmental Disabilities 39:12-19.
Gore, N., Hastings, R. and Brady, S. (2014). Early intervention for children with learning disabilities: making use of what we know. Tizard Learning Disability Review [Online] 19:181-189. Available at:
Miller, P. et al. (2013). The Autism Champions Project: strengthening capacity within and across schools. Good Autism Practice 14:33-37.
Gore, N. et al. (2015). Residential school placements for children and young people with intellectual disabilities: their use and implications for adult social care. School of Social Care Reseach NIHR. Available at:
Total publications in KAR: 7 [See all in KAR]
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Serena is currently a Co-Investigator and Research Assistant 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 education 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 educational setting, 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 (E-PAtS) 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 consistent with PBS to support family carers of children with intellectual disabilities.

She has also acted as an independent Research Assistant with two organisations focusing on developing resources for families of individuals with intellectual disabilities who are involved in the Criminal Justice System, a suite of resources for family carers and commissioners relating to PBS, and PBS accreditation standards for individual practitioners and service providers.

During her undergraduate degree Serena conducted two research projects. The first of these projects was a qualitative study examining the experiences of parents who had recently attended an Autism diagnostic clinic. The findings from this project were used to improve the service provided to families within the clinic. The second of these projects examined the effects of ethnic diversity on children’s willingness to acknowledge ethnicity and disability.

Serena’s wider research interests include early intervention and prevention for challenging behaviour in children with intellectual disabilities / developmental disabilities (IDD); education for children with IDD; socioemotional support for family carers; and the use of ABA and PBS in the UK.

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

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

Last Updated: 29/05/2018