Dr Lila Kossyvaki

Dr Lila Kossyvaki

School of Education
Lecturer in Severe Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities

Contact details

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

Dr Lila Kossyvaki is a lecturer in Severe Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities in the Department of Disability, Inclusion and Special Needs (DISN) at the School of Education. She is also a member of the Autism Centre for Education and Research (ACER).

Lila is a chartered psychologist and a SEN teacher. She has a strong interest in school and home-based interventions to promote social communication and play skills in children with autism and learning disabilities. She primarily uses participatory action research designs working in close partnerships with participants in real world settings. Lila has worked on a number of research projects exploring Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) in children with autism. She has also worked as a Regional Tutor in the Autism DE courses supervising students from undergraduate to Masters levels. 

Before she commenced her PhD, she worked for a research centre of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens and as a lecturer at the Public Institute of Vocational Training (Greece). Lila has also worked in special schools and day care settings in the UK and in Greece. During her PhD studies she worked as an academic and social support worker for the disability and learning support services at the University of Birmingham. She is currently a governor in charge of Teaching, Learning and Assessment at Hamilton School.


  • PGCHE, University of Birmingham
  • PhD, University of Birmingham
  • M.Ed., University of Birmingham  Special Education: Autism (children) 
  • B.Ed., National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (Greece)  Philosophy-Pedagogy-Psychology (Major: Psychology)


Lila leads on the Severe, Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities programme. 

More specifically she is in charge of the following modules:

  • Reflective Practice
  • Enhancing Quality
  • Developing Innovations
  • Special Studies in Special Education and Educational Psychology
  • Dissertation.

Postgraduate supervision

Lila currently supervises the following students:

Former students who have completed their PhD

Doctoral research


Lila’s main research interests are:

  • Autism and severe or profound learning disabilities
  • Adult Interactive Style and its impact on the communication of children with autism and/or learning disabilities
  • Technology enhanced learning environments for individuals with disabilities
  • The development of play skills in children with disabilities
  • Staff and parents' training
  • Video Interaction Guidance (VIG)
  • Cultural differences and disability

She has worked or is working on the following research projects: 

Using telepractice to train and coach parents of children with autism in rural areas in North England 
Funded by BA/Leverhulme Small Research Grants (October 2019 - September 2020).

Teacher Training and Attention in Autism 
Funded by Erasmus (September 2019 - August 2021)

Tablet based attention training in schools for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. 
Funded by ESRC Impact Acceleration Account-User Engagement Fund (October 2017 - June 2018). 

Meeting the needs of pupils with autism in Qatar: moving forward, raising awareness and building capacity
Funded by The World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) - an initiative of the Qatar Foundation (February - August 2017). 

Using new technologies at school: working with pupils with autism and additional complex needs
Funded by Filisia Interfaces (April 2015 - August 2016).

Transform Autism Education: enhancing the skills, knowledge and understanding of teachers in the UK, Italy and Greece
Funded by the European Commission(November 2014 - August 2017). 

SHARE-IT: School-Home Autism Research Environment through Intelligent Technologies
Funded by EPSRC (July 2013 - July 2014).  

SHAPE: Shaping the future of technology use in the classroom
Follow on funding by ESRC (May 2012- June 2013).  

ECHOES 2: Improving children’s social interaction through exploratory learning in a multimodal environment
Funded by EPSRC/ESRC, TLRP-TEL (May - December 2011).

Other activities

Lila is a Chartered Psychologist (British Psychological Society).  

She is also an accredited Video Interaction Guidance (VIG) practitioner and trained in Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS-2) administration and coding.  

Lila is an external examiner for the University of East London. She is in charge of the courses BA in Early Childhood and Education and MA in Child Psychology for Education at their European partner Metropolitan College (Greece).

She is honoured to be a governor at Hamilton School and a trustee at the charity EQUALS.

Worth Listening To? Life with Learning Disabilities: Perspectives on Severe, Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities from Education, Research and Arts’. ERSC festival of Social Sciences 2019. 

This two-hour event brought together education, research and performing arts in an effort to give a full account of priorities in the life of people with Severe, Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities (SPMLD). In an easy-to-access format, special education expert Peter Imray and Dr Lila Kossyvaki, Lecturer and Programme Lead, in SPMLD at the University of Birmingham, shared from their perspectives what people with SPMLD are taught in schools, how effective this teaching is and also highlighted what is the current existing research on SPMLD. The event explained the implications on the life of people with SPMLD and their families, as well as why teaching staff often 'hit the target but miss the point', failing to teach meaningful and life-long skills to these people. The evening closed with some examples of the amazing work of the One of a Kind theatre group - a group of emerging performers with learning disabilities who work with non-verbal physical theatre relying on music, prop work and improvisation. 

The short clip below shows highlights from the event. If you would like to watch the whole event, please view the video beneath this.



Recent publications


Kossyvaki, L 2017, Adult Interactive Style Intervention and Participatory Research Designs in Autism: Bridging the Gap between Academic Research and Practice. Routledge Research in Special Education Needs, Routledge, London.


Kossyvaki, L 2021, 'Autism education in Greece at the beginning of the 21st century: reviewing the literature', Support for Learning, vol. 36, no. 2, pp. 183-203. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9604.12350

Rushton, R & Kossyvaki, AL 2021, 'The role of music within the home-lives of young people with profound and multiple learning disabilities: parental perspectives', British Journal of Learning Disabilities. https://doi.org/10.1111/bld.12387

Rushton, R & Kossyvaki, L 2020, 'Using musical play with children with profound and multiple learning disabilities at school', British Journal of Special Education. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-8578.12334

Kossyvaki, L 2019, 'Why is research important? Reflections for professionals and parents' PMLD Link, vol. 31.2, no. 90.

Muller Spaniol, M, Shalev, L, Kossyvaki, L & Mevorach, C 2018, 'Attention training in autism as a potential approach to improving academic performance: a school-based pilot study', Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, vol. 48, pp. 592–610. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-017-3371-2

Porayska-Pomsta, K, Alcorn, AM, Avramides , K, Beale, S, Bernardini, S, Foster, ME, Frauenberger, C, Guldberg, K, Good, J, Keay-Bright, W, Kossyvaki, L, Lemon, O, Mademtzi, M, Menzies, R, Pain, H, Rajendran, G, Waller, A, Wass, S & Smith, TJ 2018, 'Blending human and artificial intelligence to support Autistic children’s social communication skills', ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction, vol. 25, no. 6, 35. https://doi.org/10.1145/3271484

Kossyvaki, L & Curran, S 2018, 'The role of technology mediated music-making in enhancing engagement and social communication in children with autism and intellectual disabilities', Journal of Intellectual Disabilities. https://doi.org/10.1177/1744629518772648

Kossyvaki, L & Papoudi, D 2016, 'A Review of Play Interventions for Children with Autism at School', International Journal of Disability, Development and Education, vol. 63, no. 1. https://doi.org/10.1080/1034912X.2015.1111303

Kossyvaki, L, Jones, G & Guldberg, K 2014, 'Training teaching staff to facilitate spontaneous communication in children with autism : adult interactive style intervention (AISI): Adult Interactive Style Intervention (AISI)', Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs. https://doi.org/10.1111/1471-3802.12068, https://doi.org/DOI: 10.1111/1471-3802.12068, https://doi.org/DOI: 10.1111/1471-3802.12068

Kossyvaki, L 2013, 'Adult interactive style and autism: reviewing the literature to inform school practice', Good Autism Practice, vol. 14, no. 2, pp. 23-32.

Chapter (peer-reviewed)

Papoudi, D & Kossyvaki, L 2018, Play and children with autism: insights from research and implications for practice. in P Smith & JL Roopnarine (eds), The Cambridge Handbook of Play: Developmental and Disciplinary Perspectives. Cambridge Handbooks in Psychology, Cambridge University Press, pp. 563-579. https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108131384.031

Conference contribution

Kossyvaki, L, Papadakis, G & Curran, S 2019, Using technology-mediated music-making at school with children with autism and intellectual disabilities: a participatory multidisciplinary approach. in DSAI 2018 proceedings. ACM International Conference Proceedings Series , Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), pp. 152-155, DSAI 2018, TISHW 2018 & TECH-EDU 2018, Thessaloniki, Greece, 20/06/18. https://doi.org/10.1145/3218585.3218662

Porayska-Pomsta, K, Anderson, K, Bernardini, S, Guldberg, K, Smith, T, Kossyvaki, L, Hodgins, S & Lowe, I 2013, Building an intelligent authorable serious game for autistic children and their carers. in D Reidsma, H Katayose & A Nijholt (eds), Advances in Computer Entertainment: 10th International Conference, ACE 2013 Boekelo, he Netherlands, November 2013 Proceedings. Lecture Notes in Computer Science (LNCS), vol. 8253, Springer, pp. 456-475.


Guldberg, K, Ashbee, E, Kossyvaki, L, Bradley, R & Basulayyim, A 2017, 'Meeting the needs of pupils with autism in Qatar: moving forward', 8th World Innovation Summit for Education, Doha, Qatar, 14/11/17 - 16/11/17 pp. 1-82.

View all publications in research portal