Dr Caroline Richards PhD, ClinPsyD

Dr Caroline Richards

School of Psychology
Lecturer in Neurodevelopmental Disorders

Contact details

School of Psychology
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

The aim of Dr Richards’ research is to reduce negative clinical outcomes for individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders. Her work with children with autism and children with rare genetic syndromes has thus far focused on reducing self-injury, improving sleep disorders and understanding the impact of premature birth. Her research uses experimental, epidemiological, single case and meta-analytic techniques to delineate risk markers, improve precision in models of mechanism and develop novel, proactive interventions.

Dr Richards collaborates with Professor Chris Oliver and colleagues at the Cerebra Centre for Neurodevelopmental Disorders.


  • BSc (Hons) Psychology, 2007, University of Birmingham
  • PhD Psychology, 2012, University of Birmingham
  • ClinPsyD, 2015, University of Birmingham


Dr Richards completed her BSc in Psychology at the University of Birmingham in 2007 and completed her PhD in 2012, supervised by Professor Chris Oliver. Her PhD was in self-injurious behaviour in children and adults with autism spectrum disorder and combined large epidemiological surveys of risk markers, with single case experimental designs using fine grained behavioural observations. In 2010, alongside the completion of her PhD, Dr Richards undertook training as a Clinical Psychologist at the University of Birmingham. She completed this training in 2015, which included specialist placements conducting assessments of children ‘at risk’ of autism and a seminal meta-analytic study of autism characteristics in rare genetic syndromes.

In 2015 she began her post-doctoral fellowship at the Cerebra Centre for Neurodevelopmental Disorders, leading work assessing sleep problems in children with rare genetic syndromes. In June 2017 she was appointed as Lecturer in Neurodevelopmental Disorders at the University of Birmingham.


Dr Richards is Module Leader for ‘Early Intervention: Can we improve atypical and neurodevelopmental outcomes?’

Postgraduate supervision

  • Georgie Agar, PhD candidate – University of Birmingham
  • Lucy Licence, PhD candidate – University of Birmingham
  • Catherine Laverty, PhD candidate – University of Birmingham
  • Andrea Thomas, PhD candidate – University of Birmingham
  • Alice Winsor, PhD candidate – University of Birmingham (co-supervisor)
  • Connor Keating, PhD candidate – University of Birmingham (co-supervisor)
  • Kaysha Lucas, ClinPsyD candidate – University of Birmingham
  • Natalie Hallett, ClinPsyD candidate – University of Birmingham
  • Elizabeth Hawkins, ClinPsyD candidate – University of Birmingham

Dr Richards welcomes applications from talented and enthusiastic students who are interested in the study of neurodevelopmental disorders. For informal enquiries about potential projects please email c.r.richards@bham.ac.uk.


Scopus Author ID, 7201655991, https://www.scopus.com/authid/detail.uri?authorId=7201655991

Research interests

Identifying risk markers for self-injury in neurodevelopmental groups to understanding mechanisms underpinning aetiology and maintenance. This includes work on physical health and pain, and impulsivity. Developing and delivering robust, preventative early interventions to reduce self-injury and other behaviour disorders. Contrasting development of self-harm in children with neurodevelopmental disorders and self-harm in typically developing children and adolescents. 

Sleep Disorders
Using direct (actigraphy) and informant report measures to delineate sleep difficulties in autism and rare genetic syndromes (e.g., Angelman syndrome, Smith-Magenis syndrome, Tuberous Sclerosis Complex). 

Social Development and Autism in ‘At Risk’ Populations
Understanding social cognition and social functioning in individuals with rare genetic syndromes (e.g., Phelan-McDermid syndrome) and in children born prematurely.

Other activities

Dr Richards is Associate Editor for Research in Developmental Disabilities and Secretary for the Autism Spectrum Disorder Special Interest Research Group, International Association for the Scientific Study of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.


  1. Trickett, J., Oliver, C., Heald, M., Gringras, P, Surtees, A., Clarkson, E. & Richards, C. (in press).  Sleep in children with Smith-Magenis syndrome; a case-control actigraphy study. Sleep.
  2. Licence, L., Oliver, C., Moss, J. & Richards, C. (in press). Prevalence and risk-markers of self-harm in autistic children and adults. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.
  3. Surtees, A. D. R, Richards, C., Clarkson, E., Heald, M., Trickett, J., Denyer, H. Crawford, H. and Oliver, C.(in press). Sleep problems in Autism Spectrum Disorders: a comparison to sleep in typically developing children using actigraphy, diaries and questionnaires, Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders.
  4. Richards, C., & Symons, F. (2018). Self‐injurious behaviour in people with intellectual disabilities. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 62, 993-996.
  5. Trickett, J., Heald, M., Oliver, C. & Richards, C. (2018). A cross-syndrome cohort comparison of sleep disturbance in children with Smith-Magenis syndrome, Angelman syndrome, autism spectrum disorder and tuberous sclerosis complex. Journal of Neurodevelopmental Disorders, 10, 9.
  6. Surtees, A. D. R., Oliver, C., Jones, C., Evans, D., & Richards, C. (2018) Shorter duration and poorer quality sleep in people with intellectual disabilities: A meta-analysis. Sleep Medicine Reviews.
  7. Bissell, S., Wilde, L., Richards, C., Moss, J. & Oliver, C. (2018) The behavioural phenotype of Potocki-Lupski syndrome: A cross-syndrome comparison. Journal of Neurodevelopmental Disorders, 10, 2.
  8. Richards, C., Powis, L., Moss, J., Stinton, C., Nelson, L. & Oliver, C. (2017). Prospective Study of Autism Phenomenology and the Behavioural Phenotype of Phelan-McDermid Syndrome:  Comparison to fragile X syndrome, Down syndrome and Idiopathic Autism Spectrum Disorder. Journal of Neurodevelopmental Disorders, 9, 37.
  9. Richards, C., Davies, L & Oliver, C. (2017). Predictors of self-injurious behavior and self-restraint in autism spectrum disorder: Towards a hypothesis of impaired behavioral control. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 47, 701-713.
  10. Oliver, C., License, L. & Richards, C. (2017). Self-injurious behaviour in people with intellectual disability and autism spectrum disorder. Current Opinion in Psychiatry, 30, 97-101.
  11. Richards, C., Moss, J., Nelson, L., & Oliver, C. (2016). Persistence of self-injurious behaviour in autism spectrum disorder over 3 years: a prospective cohort study of risk markers. Journal of Neurodevelopmental Disorders, 8(1), 1.
  12. Moss, J., Nelson, L., Powis, L., Waite, J., Richards, C. & Oliver, C. (2016). Sociability in Angelman, Cornelia de Lange, Fragile X, Down and Rubinstein Taybi syndromes and autism spectrum disorder: A comparative study. American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 121(6), 465-486.
  13. Richards, C., Jones, C., Moss, J., Groves, L. and Oliver, C. (2015). The prevalence of autism spectrum disorder phenomenology in genetic disorders: A systematic review and meta-analysis Lancet Psychiatry, 2, 909-916.
  14. Oliver, C., & Richards, C. (2015). Practitioner Review: Self‐injurious behaviour in children with developmental delay. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 56(10), 1042-1054.
  15. Waite, J., Moss, J., Beck, S. R., Richards, C., Nelson, L., Arron, K., ... & Oliver, C. (2015). Repetitive Behavior in Rubinstein–Taybi Syndrome: Parallels with Autism Spectrum Phenomenology. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 45(5), 1238-1253.
  16. Eden, K. E., de Vries, P. J., Moss, J., Richards, C., & Oliver, C. (2014). Self-injury and aggression in tuberous sclerosis complex: cross syndrome comparison and associated risk markers. Journal of Neurodevelopmental Disorders, 6(1), 1.
  17. Moss, J., Oliver, C., Nelson, L., Richards, C. & Hall, S. (2013). Delineating the profile of autism spectrum disorder characteristics in Cornelia de Lange and Fragile X syndromes. American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 118,55-73.

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