Professor Rita Jordan Bsc. QTS. Msc. MA. PhD. C.Psychol. OBE

Professor Rita Jordan

School of Education
Emeritus Professor in Autism Studies
Self Employment as Autism Consultant

Contact details

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

After a Psychology degree, Rita taught in mainstream and special schools which included nine years as Deputy Principal for a school for children on the autism spectrum. She also taught special needs, language development, clinical linguistics, education, and cognitive science in higher education. From 1993, she developed and ran a range of professional development programmes in autism studies (including a web-based one) at the University of Birmingham.

She has written about and researched many aspects of autism and has been involved in training events, consultations and conferences all over the world. She established two journals in autism and co-edited one (Autism: the International Journal of Research & Practice) for eleven years. She has been on the editorial board of four journals.

She has served on national and international task forces and working parties to review evidence and offer advice in relation to autism. She lectures and trains at conferences nationally and internationally (Austria, Australia, Belgium, Bosnia, Canada, China, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Singapore, South Africa, Sweden). From 2003 to 2006 she was a consultant to the Expert Committee on Autism for the Council of Europe.

In 2007 she was awarded an OBE for her services to special needs education and in 2013 she was awarded a lifetime achievement award from the National Autistic Society.


  • PhD Birmingham Pronominal Development in Autism 
  • MA CNAA Applied Linguistics 
  • M.Sc. Institute of Education, London Child Development / Research 
  • B.Sc. UCL, London (2.i) Psychology


2004-2008 University of Birmingham Education Professor in Autism Studies

2002 - 2004 University of Birmingham Education Reader in Autism Studies

1995 - 2002 University of Birmingham Education Senior Lecturer in Autism Studies

1993 - 1995 University of Birmingham Education Lecturer in Autism Studies

1985 - 1993 University of Hertfordshire Humanities & Education Senior Lecturer in Special Education

1977 - 1985 National Autistic Society Radlett Lodge School Deputy Principal

1976 - 1977 Herts. County Council Education Teacher

1973 - 1976 Institute of Education, London University Thomas Coram Unit Research Officer

1968 - 1972 Woodfield Nursery School Nursery School Teacher P/T

1968 - 1972 Herts. County Council Education Teacher P/T

1964 - 1968 School of Careers Teaching Tutor & author P/T


Rita first joined the University of Birmingham in 1993 as a Lecturer in Autism Studies. For more than 20 years, she played a crucial role in the development and the dissemination of knowledge on autism and the development of the Autism Centre for Education and Research (ACER). She still visits the University following her retirement (in 2007) to give lectures and support research.

Doctoral research

PhD title
Her doctorate was on pronouns in autism.

Other activities

Rita has served on national and international task forces and working parties set up by governments or professional bodies to review evidence and offer advice in relation to autism spectrum disorders e.g. Irish Task Force, BPS Guidelines, DfES Best Practice Guidelines, National Initiative for Screening, Assessment, Education and Training in Autism; Northern Ireland Care Pathways in Autism, Review. 

She has given key note lectures at every European Autism Congress and World Autism Congress (bar one) from 1988 to 2014 as well as being a key note speaker at national conferences all over the world (Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Denmark, Dubai, England, France, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Japan, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Portugal, Romania, Scotland, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, and Wales). 

Rita served (on a voluntary basis) as Chair of the Children’s Services Committee of the Autism network National Accreditation Programme for 10 years. 

The University of Calgary, Canada sponsored her to train psychologists and teachers in SEN in refugee camps in Palestine

The British Council has sponsored her for training ‘tours’ in India and South Africa. 

The NHS UK sponsored training in Hungary through a medical exchange programme. 

From 2003 to 2006 she served as a consultant for the Expert Committee on the Education of Children and Young People with autism for the Council of Europe. 

She is on reviewer and rapporteur panels for the ESRC and regularly reviews research proposals for this and other grant awarding bodies (e.g. MRC, WORM, Scottish Department of Health, Human Frontier for Science, Inge Wakehurst Trust). 

She edited a research journal (Autism: the International Journal of Research & Practice) for 11 years and has served on the editorial board of 3 other journals. She regularly reviews papers for 4 journals and reviews book proposals for publishers. 

Rita has been consulted by Oxfordshire County Council to review provision for 14 to 25 year olds with autism spectrum disorders in Oxfordshire and to make recommendations for future development 

She is consultant to the Autism & Education Centre at Griffiths University, Australia and also the Hong Kong Spastics Society

She is a trustee of the Inge Wakehurst Trust (charity foundation in Autism) and ESPA (European Services for People with Autism)

Rita has been an expert witness in tribunals on the effect of wind farms on individuals with autism spectrum disorders and in cases involving the educational needs of children with autism

She featured in Madisons Who's Who in the World in 1999 and 2000 and in 2008 she was their member of the year

In 2002 she featured in the Who's Who list of professionals in the world and in 2004 she featured in the Cambridge Blue Book of International Biographies. In 2006 she featured in the European Who's Who


Jordan, R (2013) (2nd Edition) Autism with Severe Learning Difficulties London, Souvenir Press

Jordan, R (2011) Can bad parenting cause ASC? In S. Bölte & J Hallmeyer (Eds) Autism Spectrum Conditions: FAQs on Autism, Asperger Syndrome, and Atypical Autism Answered by International Experts 139-142 Gottingen, Germany, Hogrefe Publishing

Jordan, R (2011) Special Education In G. O’Brien & M. Bax (Eds) Evidence-based Therapy in Childhood Neurodisability London, McKeith Press p110-123

Jordan, R.R. (2009) Medicalisation of autism spectrum disorders: implications for services? Journal of Hospital Medicine, 70: 3 128-9

Jordan, R (2009) Education and Social Integration of Children and Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders: definition, prevalence, rights, needs, provision and examples of good practice. Report. Strasbourg, Council of Europe

Jones, G. & Jordan, R. (2008) Research Base for Interventions in Autism Spectrum Disorders E. McGregor, M. Nunez, K. Cebula, & J.C. Gomez (Eds.) Autism : an integrated view from neurocognitive, clinical, and intervention research, Oxford University Press p281-302

Jordan, R. (2008) The Gulliford Lecture - Autism spectrum disorders: a challenge and a model for inclusion in education. British Journal of Special Education, 35, 1, 11-15 DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8578.2008.00364.x

Herrera, G., Alcantua, F., Jordan, R., Blanquer, A., Labajo, G & De Pablo, C. (2008) Development of Symbolic play through the use of Virtual Reality tools in children with autistic spectrum disorders: two case studies Autism: the International Journal of Research & Practice, 12: 2, 143-158 DOI:10.1177/1362361307086657

Preece, D & Jordan, R.R. (2007) Short breaks services for children with autistic spectrum disorders: factors associated with service use and non-use Journal of Autism & Developmental Disorders 37:2, 374-385 DOI: 10.1007/s10803-006-0174-2

Jordan, R.R. (2005) Managing autism and Asperger’s syndrome in current educational provision Paediatric Rehabilitation, 8, 104-112 

Jordan, R.R. (2003) Social Play and autistic spectrum disorders: a perspective on theory, implications and educational approaches Autism: the International Journal of Research & Practice, 7: 4 347-360

Jordan, R.R. (2002) Autistic Spectrum Disorders in the Early Years: a guide for practitioners. Lichfield, Questions Publishing ISBN 1-898873-29-1 pp103