I specialise in the early development of executive functions. Executive functions are thinking and regulation skills that help us to plan, solve problems and control our impulses. Concentrating at school, adding sums in our heads, and not losing our temper in an argument all rely on executive functions – so these skills are important for long term health, wealth and happiness.
My research focuses on developing ways to identify and help children most likely to struggle with executive functions, whether that is due to genetic or environmental factors. I lead the START (Supporting Toddlers with a family history of autism/ADHD to develop strong Attention, Regulation and Thinking skills) programme, an early-intervention programme for parents of children aged 16 to 22 months. I also collaborate on the Social Distancing and Development Study, which aims to understand the impact of Covid-19 lockdowns on early language and cognitive development. I have previously developed a range of fun games and activities for babies and toddlers as part of the STAARS and Oxford Early Executive Functions projects, as well as online questionnaires to capture parents’ insights into what their children are capable of.