Dr Despina Papoudi


Lecturer in Autism

School of Education

Despina Papoudi

Contact details

School of Education
University of Birmingham
Edgbaston, Birmingham
B15 2TT, United Kingdom


Dr Despina Papoudi is a Lecturer in Autism in the Department of Disability, Inclusion and Special Needs (DISN).

Despina taught between 1995 and 2013 on undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in Greece. She was appointed as an Assistant Professor in Developmental Psychology and Psychopathology at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Faculty of Early Childhood Education before she joined the Autism Centre for Education and Research at the School of Education, University of Birmingham. She completed her Ph.D. under the supervision of Professor Colwyn Trevarthen at the University of Edinburgh on interpersonal play and communication between young autistic children and their mothers. She approaches autism from a developmental perspective, which includes issues of educational provision and educational practices.


  • 1998-1999, Postgraduate Certificate, ‘Open and Distance Learning’, Hellenic Open University, Greece. 
  • 1993-1995, Postdoctoral Fellowship in Special Education (research on literacy development of language impaired children) funded by the Greek State Foundation Scholarship, University of Bristol, School of Education, U.K.
  • 1993-1994, M.Ed., University of Bristol, School of Education, U.K. 
  • 1989-1993, Ph.D., University of Edinburgh, Department of Psychology, U.K. 
  • 1985-1989, B.A. (Philosophy and Social Sciences), Subjects (Psychology, Education, Philosophy, Sociology), University of Crete, School of Philosophy, Department of Philosophy and Social Sciences, Greece.


Despina’s areas of research and teaching expertise include developmental psychology, developmental psychopathology, early childhood education and autism. She worked on and supervised a number of research projects related to infancy and early childhood. She taught in higher education, in continuing education and on further education programmes. She was also a Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Wales, Swansea, in association with Athens Campus Wales, where a curriculum leading to a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the University of Wales, Swansea was offered. She worked as Regional Tutor at the Hellenic Open University on the module “Children’s development in social environments” in the Master’s Degree Curriculum “Studies on Education”. She is a qualified teacher and she has experience as a specialist teacher for children with autism and children with learning disabilities. She was employed as a Psychologist in the National Centre of Vocational Orientation (EKEP, Greece) participating in Projects funded by the European Union.


Postgraduate supervision

Stella Prompona Play of children during playtime in the Greek primary school (in collaboration with the Faculty of Early Childhood Education, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens). 

Irini Xaidi Emotional and social empowerment of children on the autism spectrum and their parents: A participatory action research in a Greek school (in collaboration with the Department of Home Economics & Ecology, Harokopio University).


  • Communication and play in typical and atypical development. 
  • Psycho-educational interventions with a particular focus on communication and play. 
  • Teachers’ beliefs and practices regarding autism and inclusive education. 
  • Preschool teachers’ beliefs and practices regarding play and literacy. 
  • Parents’ beliefs and participation in children’s play. 
  • Human intersubjectivity and cultural learning and applications in typical and atypical development, education and therapy.

Other activities

  • The British Psychological Society, C.Psychol, AFBPsS 
  • Association of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 
  • International Society for Autism Research (INSAR)
  • Hellenic Psychologyical Society (Ε.Λ.Ψ.Ε.)


Selected publications

Misailidi, P., Papoudi, D. & Brouzos, A. (2013). Mind what teachers say: Kindergarten teachers’ use of mental state language during picture-story narration. Early Education and Development, 24 (8): 1161-1174. DOI: 10.1080/10409289.2013.765787

Petrogiannis, K., Papadopoulou, K. & Papoudi, D. (2013). Measuring parental beliefs about the developmental significance of preschool children’s daily activities: the Children’s Daily Activities-Parental Beliefs scale. Journal of Educational and Developmental Psychology, 3 (2): 40-55. 

Argyropoulou, Z. & Papoudi, D. (2012). The training of a child with autism in a Greek preschool inclusive class through intensive interaction: A case study. European Journal of Special Needs Education, 27 (1): 99-114. DOI:

Trevarthen, C., Aitken, K.J., Papoudi, D., & Robarts, J.Z. (1996, 1997, 1998). Children with Autism: Diagnosis and Interventions to Meet their Needs. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers. ΙSBN 1-85302-314-0. Book details

Aitken, K.J., Papoudi, D., Robarts, J.Z. & Trevarthen, C. (1993). Children with Autism: Diagnosis, Prevalence in Scotland and Interventions to Meet their Needs. Edinburgh: Scottish Education Department. ΙSBN O-9520667-2-6.

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