Geoff Fitzpatrick

Doctoral Researcher

Current Status

Part-time, first year.

Research Topic

Autism and Environmental Design

Research Summary

My research will attempt to explore the rationale and understanding behind environment and building design features aimed at meeting the core needs of children on the spectrum (Whitehurst, 2006 and Scott, 2009) I will examine whether decisions based on factors such as colour, proxemics (space), and lighting (Humphreys, 2005 and Beaver, 2012) are routed in empirical evidence and the extent to which these are transferable in community settings or non-specialist environments. My hypothesis is that the differing ways individuals with ASC process information from their daily experiences will result in different perceptions of environmental factors we "neuro-typical" individuals share and understand.

Research Interests

Design features of autism friendly provision

Research Supervisors

Dr Karen Guldberg and Andrea Mcleod



Membership of research and professional organisations


Qualifications and Experience

I have worked in the field of special needs for over thirty years and my entire teaching career has been in special schools and special needs education. For three years I was seconded to Lancashire County Council as a special needs advisor supporting mainstream primary and secondary schools in meeting the needs of children with SEND to be included with their peers. Whilst this was very rewarding I missed the daily contact with children and the sense of purpose you feel when responsible for children in your care. During the past 14 years I have been a head teacher of two schools: one a specialist all age school for children on the autistic spectrum where we worked tirelessly to provide excellence in the education of all children. The school was judged outstanding on two occasions. My current post is as head of an all age special school for children with complex needs. This includes a "school within the school" for children on the autistic spectrum which I have built up over the past eight years. The ASD department has successfully gained NAS accreditation on two occasions and we have grown from one class of six pupils to now over forty on roll. Due to the success of the school we are in the process of an exciting development whereby I am the lead specialist professional on the design and build steering group to deliver a purpose built provision for sixty pupils, in the first instance, and it is one of the reasons I want to commence research in order to ensure the provision reflects best practice and current thinking. Never one to stand still I am also currently negotiating with a residential provider to work in partnership to provide short term and long term respite to support children and their families to sustain them in their local communities.  

Contact Details