Susan’s interest in the area of Autism was inspired by her own son, Tomás, being diagnosed with autism in 1998. She completed her PhD in the field of Fundamental Movement Skills and Autism in 2007. During this time Susan went on to setup the first autism unit attached to a mainstream school using an eclectic teaching approach in Co. Clare, Ireland. This unit is now referenced as an example of good educational practice. Susan has been actively involved in fundraising and developing awareness of and for Autistic Spectrum Disorders. She has completed marathons, half marathons and 10Km runs all over the world including one in the Antarctic. Susan’s son is also a keen runner and has joined her to complete several 10km runs and half marathons nationally and internationally. In 2019, Susan and Tomás completed a “GetAutismActive, GetAutismAware” Run/Walk Challenge completing in excess of 2,500kms of The Wild Atlantic Way over 88 days. This challenge involved travelling along the route from Kinsale throughout West Cork, Kerry, Clare, Galway, Mayo, Sligo, Leitrim, Donegal into Derry to finish at Free Derry Corner on Sept 21st. The team were joined by family, friends, people on the Autistic Spectrum, those with a passion for running, the outdoors or just those who wanted to be a part of this life changing challenge. Along the way, Susan held Autism Awareness Training workshops in venues in each County which were superbly received. Susan is currently revisiting areas around the country and abroad rolling out workshops in ASD related topics with particular emphasis on the importance of movement for those on the spectrum. These courses will also be accessible on line.
Susan has received several awards and accolades throughout her career, particularly in relation to her work on Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) from research, policy and practice perspectives. Susan completed her PhD with a scholarship from The Irish Research Council of Science, Engineering and Technology where she explored the effects of motor skill intervention programmes for children and adults with ASD. This was one of the first studies of its kind in Ireland and became the basis of two books published by the HSE addressing Movement Skills for Children and Adults on the Spectrum. She became a lecturer in University College Cork (UCC), where she worked for 10 years. Whilst Cork based Susan led a number of University-School-Community Collaborations which particularly involved running Education and activity workshops for children and adults with ASD, disabilities, school aged children, teenagers and the elderly. Susan was the recipient of The President’s Award for innovative forms of Teaching (2014). She became a Fulbright Techimpact Scholar (2015) for developing mobile digital technology programmes addressing movement delay, for children and adults with autism in collaboration with Prof Kevin Oh, Prof Bill Bosl and collaborative teams at The University of San Francisco and with Karen Kaplan at the Wings Learning Center, Redwood City CA. These programmes are now the basis of the Get Autism Active Online Programme. Susan has been awarded as a Digital Champion (2016) and Social Entrepreneur Ireland Mentee (2017) for her further development of this work. In 2018, Susan was awarded The Fulbright Alumni Award to return to the U.S. and roll out a series of ASD awareness talks to communities in California. in 2018, Susan published her 3rd textbook which has been reviewed as a “must have” book to learn about addressing fundamental movement skill acquisition for children and adults on the spectrum. The book is supported by Susan’s online “GetAutismActive” resource kit which is equally well received. These and other resources are now accessible on www.getautismactive.com
Susan has presented at conferences both nationally and internationally and has published journals and books particularly in the area of ASD.
Prior to working in University College Cork, Ireland in 2008, Susan was working as a registered general nurse, registered midwife, holistic and sports massage therapist and an occupational first aid instructor/Examiner. She completed a BSc in Sport and Exercise Science form 1996-2001 and returned to do her PhD in the area of autism and fundamental movement skill development with the support of an IRCSET scholarship from 2004-2007. Susan worked in the area of exercise prescription for a number of years. Whilst in UCC, Susan has completed the Post Graduate Certificate, Diploma and Masters in Teaching & Learning in Higher Education.
Susan left UCC in 2018, to follow her heart and work as a Consultant in the area of Autism Spectrum Disorders. She is actively rolling out programmes both nationally and internationally. Courses are also accessible online. Susan also hosts a tele-consultation service for parents, practitioners and researchers in the field. She has also delivered motivational talks, active workshops and one to one research advice. in 2020, Susan was named “Clare Person of the Year” by The Clare People’s Association.