Sarah Cassidy

Sarah Cassidy
University of Nottingham | Notts · School of Psychology

PhD

About

70
Publications
45,888
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Introduction
I lead a research program aiming to understand, assess and prevent mental health problems, self-injury and suicide in autism. I am also interested in social cognition and sensorimotor skills in autism, and how difficulties in these areas may be associated with wellbeing in autistic people. My work utilises a range of methods and techniques, including: epidemiology, psychometrics, psychological autopsy, qualitative interviews and participatory research.
Additional affiliations
January 2022 - present
University of Nottingham
Position
  • Professor (Associate)
November 2017 - January 2022
University of Nottingham
Position
  • Professor (Assistant)
November 2017 - August 2019
Coventry University
Position
  • Fellow
Education
October 2008 - December 2012
University of Nottingham
Field of study
  • Psychology

Publications

Publications (70)
Article
Full-text available
The current study explored whether people who camouflage autistic traits are more likely to experience thwarted belongingness and suicidality, as predicted by the Interpersonal Psychological Theory of Suicide (IPTS). 160 UK undergraduate students (86.9% female, 18-23 years) completed a cross-sectional online survey from 8th February-30th May 2019 i...
Article
Full-text available
We explored the appropriateness and measurement properties of the Suicide Behaviours Questionnaire-Revised (SBQ-R) developed for the general population in autistic adults - a high risk group for suicide. 188 autistic adults and 183 general population adults completed the tool online, and a sub-sample (n=15) were interviewed while completing the too...
Article
Full-text available
The current extent of the impact of the pandemic on autistic adults is unknown. An important first step is to identify and discuss the challenges and opportunities that the COVID-19 pandemic poses autistic adults, incorporating a variety of perspectives. This roundtable, therefore, aims to bring together autistic adults, their families, practitione...
Preprint
Full-text available
Background: Autistic people and those with high autistic traits are at high risk of experiencing suicidality. Yet, there are no suicidality assessment tools developed or validated for these groups. Methods: A widely used and validated suicidality assessment tool developed for the general population (SBQ-R), was adapted using feedback from autistic...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Camouflaging (also referred to as ‘masking’) is a commonly reported strategy used by autistic adults in everyday life to help them cope in social situations. Autistic adults report that camouflaging can have a devastating effect on mental health and wellbeing, yet little is known about the lived experiences of camouflaging and its impac...
Article
Full-text available
Following publication of the original article [1], the authors reported missing information in the ‘Acknowledgements’ section. The corrected ‘Acknowledgements’ section reads: We thank our participants for their generosity in taking part in the present research and for their helpful feedback towards this and future research. We would like to thank t...
Article
Full-text available
Background While there are known risk factors for suicidality in autistic adults, these are often unconnected from theoretical frameworks that might explain why risk is elevated and guide clinical interventions. The present study investigated the relevance of constructs from the Interpersonal Theory of Suicide (ITS), including perceived burdensomen...
Article
Full-text available
Background Autism and autistic traits are risk factors for suicidal behaviour. Aims To explore the prevalence of autism (diagnosed and undiagnosed) in those who died by suicide, and identify risk factors for suicide in this group. Method Stage 1: 372 coroners’ inquest records, covering the period 1 January 2014 to 31 December 2017 from two region...
Article
Full-text available
Background Autistic people and those with high autistic traits are at high risk of experiencing suicidality. Yet, there are no suicidality assessment tools developed or validated for these groups. Methods A widely used and validated suicidality assessment tool developed for the general population (SBQ-R), was adapted using feedback from autistic a...
Research
Full-text available
Traditionally, priorities for research, public policy and practice have not been decided by autistic people and those who support them. This has resulted in a lack of research relevant to the day to day lives of autistic people. To address this, INSAR’s 2021 policy brief aimed to identify the top 10 priorities to prevent suicide in partnership with...
Preprint
Full-text available
Background Depression can be hard to accurately identify in autistic adults due to overlapping characteristics of autism and depression, and depression tools developed for the general population not including unique signs of depression experienced by autistic people. Methods Three focus groups and 15 cognitive interviews with autistic adults identi...
Article
Full-text available
Children with special education needs (SEN), such as children with autism, benefit from being included in education along with typical peers. However, development and implementation of inclusive education (IE) is considered difficult. This paper identifies conditions that facilitate IE development for children with autism in the European Union and...
Article
Full-text available
Individuals with autism are at heightened risk for experiencing suicidality compared to those without autism. Despite this, it is unknown what tools are used to assess suicide risk in research and clinical practice among children and youth with autism. This systematic review examined tools commonly used to measure suicidality in children and youth...
Article
Full-text available
This study explored whether the Interpersonal Theory of suicide informs our understanding of high rates of suicidality in autistic adults. Autistic and non-autistic adults (n = 695, mean age 41.7 years, 58% female) completed an online survey of self-reported thwarted belonging, perceived burden, autistic traits, suicidal capability, trauma, and lif...
Article
Full-text available
This article proposes a link between autistic people being misperceived by the neurotypical majority and their being at risk of poor mental health and wellbeing. We present a transactional account of development in which the misperceptions (and consequent behaviour) of the neurotypical majority influences the perceptions and behaviour of autistic p...
Article
Until recently, self-harm, suicidal thoughts and behaviours have not received extensive attention in autism research. The extant research evidence indicates high rates of self- harm and suicidality in autistic people, but little research exploring why, or how this could be prevented. This special issue brings together a guest editorial team of auti...
Preprint
Full-text available
Background: Children with special education needs (SEN), such as autistic children, benefit from being included in education along with typical peers. However, development and implementation of inclusive education (IE) is considered difficult. This paper identifies conditions that facilitate IE development for autistic children in the European Unio...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Autistic adults are more likely to engage in suicidal thoughts and behaviours but there is little research to explore the underlying reasons. It is unclear whether self-report suicide scales that have been designed for non-autistic people accurately measure suicide risk constructs in autistic people. Therefore, this study explored, for...
Article
In these times of rapid change, high levels of uncertainty, anxiety, social isolation and financial pressure, our mental health is likely at risk. Researchers are rightly ensuring that mental health research is included in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Here we reflect on ethical issues to consider when conducting research on self-harm, sui...
Book
Full-text available
Co-occurring psychiatric conditions are extremely common among people who have autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The Oxford Handbook of Autism and Co-Occurring Psychiatric Conditions presents a compilation of the latest research in this area, summarized by internationally renowned experts. Each chapter presents an overview of the problem or disorder...
Article
To understand why autistic people are misperceived in the way Jaswal & Akhtar suggest, we should embrace concepts like the “double empathy problem” and camouflaging and recognize the negative consequences these have for mental health in autism. Moreover, we need to value expertise from experience so that autistic people have a voice and indeed a st...
Article
Full-text available
Background: An emerging literature suggests that autistic adults are at increased risk of experiencing suicidal thoughts, making suicidal plans and attempts, and dying by suicide. However, few studies have investigated whether autistic traits are related to suicidal behaviour. The current study examined autistic traits in a sample of adults who re...
Article
Objective: The research has shown an association with sensorimotor integration and symptomology of Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASC). Specific areas of the brain that are involved in sensorimotor integration, such as the cerebellum and basal ganglia, are pathologically different in individuals with ASC in comparison to typically developing (TD) peer...
Chapter
Self-harm and suicidality in Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASC) have been under-researched. However, there is now convincing evidence that suicide is a leading cause of early death in the autistic community, and the prevalence of self-harm, suicidal thoughts and suicidal behaviours are significantly elevated in autistic children and adults compared t...
Article
Full-text available
Previous research shows that autistic people have high levels of co-occurring mental health conditions. Yet, a number of case reports have revealed that mental health conditions are often misdiagnosed in autistic individuals. A total of 420 adults who identified as autistic, possibly autistic or non-autistic completed an online survey consisting of...
Article
Full-text available
Autistic people are at high risk of mental health problems, self-injury and suicidality. However, no studies have explored autistic peoples' experiences of treatment and support for these difficulties. In partnership with a steering group of autistic adults, an online survey was developed to explore these individuals' experiences of treatment and s...
Article
Full-text available
Background Research has shown high rates of suicidality in autism spectrum conditions (ASC), but there is lack of research into why this is the case. Many common experiences of autistic adults, such as depression or unemployment, overlap with known risk markers for suicide in the general population. However, it is unknown whether there are risk mar...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Background: The Mental Health in Autism project (MHAutism) aims to develop a new suicidality assessment tool for autistic adults – a group at high risk for dying by suicide. Our systematic review identified the Suicidal Behaviours Questionnaire – Revised (SBQ-R) as a promising candidate tool to adapt for this group. The current study explores the p...
Poster
Full-text available
This poster sets out the background and proposed studies for my PhD. Please let me know what you think!
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Autistic adults are more likely to die by suicide than the general population but no validated measures exist to understand risk. This study asks whether autistic people are more likely to acquire ‘capability’ for suicide, as described by the Interpersonal Theory of Suicide (ITS). It hypothesises that autistic people experience more painful and fri...
Conference Paper
Background: Currently, depression and suicide risk assessment tools are a ‘one size fits all’ design. However, they may need to be adapted for adults with an Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC), due to difficulties such as literal interpretation, identifying and communicating internal emotional states. The clinical implication being that these question...
Article
Full-text available
Adults diagnosed with autism are at significantly increased risk of suicidal thoughts, suicidal behaviours and dying by suicide. However, it is unclear whether any validated tools are currently available to effectively assess suicidality in autistic adults in research and clinical practice. This is crucial for understanding and preventing premature...
Conference Paper
Background: Recent research has shown that adults with Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASC) are at high risk of co-morbid psychiatric disorders, non-suicidal self-injury and suicidality. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that adults with ASC may have difficulty accessing appropriate support and treatment for these difficulties. This is particularly...
Conference Paper
Background: Recent research has shown significantly increased risk of suicidality in Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASC). However, previous studies have utilised clinical samples, lacked validated measures and failed to explore risk or protective factors. Non-suicidal self-injury, unemployment and psychiatric conditions have all been identified as ris...
Article
Recent research has shown that Developmental coordination disorder (DCD) can present with some similar symptomology as Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASC). This paper therefore explored the similarities and differences in coordination and sensory responsivity between DCD and ASC. 77 children took part: 42 (35 male, 7 female) with ASC (ages 7-21: mean...
Article
Full-text available
Lay summary: Depression is the most common mental health problem experienced by adults with autism. However, the current study found very limited evidence regarding how useful tools developed for the general population are for adults with autism. We therefore suggest how these tools could be adapted to more effectively assess depression in adults...
Article
BACKGROUND: Both people with autism spectrum conditions (ASC) and borderline personality disorder (BPD) are significantly challenged in terms of understanding and responding to emotions and in interpersonal functioning. AIMS: To compare ASC, BPD, and comorbid patients in terms of autistic traits, empathy, and systemizing. METHODS: 624 ASC, 23 BPD,...
Article
Full-text available
Background Both people with autism spectrum conditions (ASC) and borderline personality disorder (BPD) are significantly challenged in terms of understanding and responding to emotions and in interpersonal functioning. Aims To compare ASC, BPD, and comorbid patients in terms of autistic traits, empathy, and systemizing. Methods 624 ASC, 23 BPD, a...
Data
Demographic variables in the 4 diagnostic groups of the full sample. * mainstream:special:other:home. (DOCX)
Data
AQ, EQ, and SQ-R mean scores in the NC, BPD, ASC, and ASC+BPD groups in the full sample. Values are means (and standard deviations). (DOCX)
Data
Demographic variables in the four diagnostic groups of the random sample. * mainstream:special:other:home. (DOCX)
Data
AQ, EQ, and SQ-R mean scores in the NC, BPD, ASC, and ASC+BPD groups in the random sample. Values are means (and standard deviations). (DOCX)
Article
Full-text available
Lay summary: Recent research has shown that people with high autistic traits are more likely to attempt suicide. However, no studies have explored why. We found that people with high autistic traits were more likely to experience feelings that they do not belong in the world, are a burden on others, and depression, which may increase their likelih...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASC) are frequently associated with motor coordination difficulties. However, no studies have explored the prevalence of dyspraxia in a large sample of individuals with and without ASC, or associations between dyspraxia and autistic traits in these individuals. Methods: 2,871 adults with ASC and 10,706 cont...
Data
Summary of all studies included in the role of sensorimotor difficulties in the development of autistic spectrum conditions. Summary of demographics, methods and outcomes of all studies included in research.
Article
Full-text available
Present diagnostic criteria for autism spectrum conditions (ASC) include social communication and interaction difficulties, repetitive behaviour and movement, and atypical sensory responsivity. Few studies have explored the influence of motor coordination and sensory responsivity on severity of ASC symptoms. In the current study, we explore whether...
Article
Full-text available
In addition to difficulties in social communication, current diagnostic criteria for autism spectrum conditions (ASC) also incorporate sensorimotor difficulties; repetitive motor movements and atypical reactivity to sensory input (APA, 2013). This paper explores whether sensorimotor difficulties are associated with the development and maintenance o...
Article
Full-text available
In addition to difficulties in social communication, current diagnostic criteria for autism spectrum conditions (ASC) also incorporate sensorimotor difficulties; repetitive motor movements and atypical reactivity to sensory input (APA, 2013). This paper explores whether sensorimotor difficulties are associated with the development and maintenance o...
Article
Full-text available
The present study examined whether adults with high functioning autism (HFA) showed greater difficulties in (1) their self-reported ability to empathise with others and/or (2) their ability to read mental states in others' eyes than adults with Asperger syndrome (AS). The Empathy Quotient (EQ) and 'Reading the Mind in the Eyes' Test (Eyes Test) wer...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Background: Recent research has shown that adults with Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASC) report significantly increased rates of suicidality compared to the general population and other clinical groups. Self-reported autistic traits and history of depression have been shown to be significant risk factors for suicidal ideation, plans and attempts in...
Article
This is the author accepted manuscript. It is currently embargoed pending publication.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Background: Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASC) are frequently associated with motor and coordination difficulties. Dyspraxia is characterized by pronounced difficulties in motor coordination. To date, there have been no studies that have explored the prevalence of dyspraxia in a large sample of individuals with and without ASC, or the impact of dyspr...
Article
Full-text available
Recent research has shown that adults with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) have difficulty interpreting others' emotional responses, in order to work out what actually happened to them. It is unclear what underlies this difficulty; important cues may be missed from fast paced dynamic stimuli, or spontaneous emotional responses may be too complex fo...
Article
Full-text available
Adults with Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASC) experience marked difficulties in recognizing the emotions of others and responding appropriately. The clinical characteristics of ASC mean that face to face or group interventions may not be appropriate for this clinical group. This article explores the potential of a new interactive technology, convert...
Article
Full-text available
Sex differences have been reported in autistic traits and systemizing (male advantage), and empathizing (female advantage) among typically developing individuals. In individuals with autism, these cognitive-behavioural profiles correspond to predictions from the "extreme male brain" (EMB) theory of autism (extreme scores on autistic traits and syst...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Asperger’s syndrome in adulthood is frequently associated with depression, but few studies have explored the lifetime experience of self-reported suicidal ideation and suicide plans or attempts in this clinical group. We aimed to assess this prevalence in a clinical cohort of patients in the UK. Method: In a clinical cohort study, we un...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Background: Sex differences have been reported in autistic traits, empathizing and systemizing among typical individuals. In individuals with autism, these cognitive-behavioural profiles correspond to predictions from the ‘extreme male brain’ (EMB) theory of autism. Sex differences within autism, however, have been under-investigated. Objectives:...