Excellence in Autism Research and Practice

Traditional methods of autism education are outdated and need to change to support the success of pupils with autism in education.

Shaping autism education for the future

Autistic children and young people make up 1.7% of the school population and nearly three quarters of those are educated in mainstream schools. In England, autistic children are three times more likely to be regularly and unlawfully excluded from school than children who do not have any special educational needs. 

Researchers at the University of Birmingham, led by Director of the Autism Centre for Education and Research (ACER), Professor Karen Guldberg, have made substantial contributions to developing autism education founded on both the knowledge base of research and practice. Through extensive research we now have an advanced understanding on how autistic people learn and ways in which teachers and senior leaders can demonstrate inclusive attitudes and ways of working to increase autistic pupils’ opportunities to succeed.

Through ‘good autism practice’, a term developed by the ACER team, and now referred to nationally; staff in education have adopted new and improved practices and methods in teaching autistic pupils. In collaboration with the Autism Education Trust (AET) partnership, professional development programmes and frameworks are now in place as approved key training.  Beyond the UK the enhanced delivery of professional services has impacted on understanding, learning and participation in autism education in a number of countries.

About us

The Autism Centre for Education and Research (ACER) contributes to improving quality of life for autistic people by conducting research that is meaningful to their lives. We conceptualise and base our work in educational, community and cultural contexts. The challenges experienced by autistic individuals, their families and educators shape our research and we strive to continue conversations around autism acceptance and inclusion.

Key people

Professor Karen Guldberg (Director of ACER)

Dr Lila Kossyvaki (Lecturer in Severe Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities)

Dr Andrea MacLeod (Lecturer in Autism)

Dr Prithvi Perepa (Lecturer in Autsim)


As part of the College of Social Sciences inaugural lecture series Professor Karen Guldberg highlights the needs of autistic children and young people in relation to communication and social understanding, interests and information processing, and sensory processing.


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Shaping autism education for the future
Developing Excellence in Autism Research and Practice