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Autism Community Research Network @ Southampton (ACoRNS)

About us

Discover what we do and how we carry out our research.

We develop and apply a range of creative methods including Digital Stories, which are increasingly being used in practice to support the transitions of autistic and other children and young people. 

ACoRNS is co-directed by Professor Sarah Parsons (Education) and Dr Hanna Kovshoff (Psychology), and was co-founded in 2016 with Aviary Nursery in Eastleigh and New Forest School in Hampshire. Our model has also been adopted by colleagues at the University of Sussex who launched ACoRN@Sussex in October 2020. 

Our participatory approach to research means that impact is baked into the ACoRNS model with demonstrable societal outcomes. For example, the impact of our education-focused work with schools has been recognised in two ‘Outstanding’ Ofsted reports for New Forest School (PDF, 152KB) and Hill House School (PDF, 274KB).

ACoRNS aligns with major University of Southampton strategic objectives through conducting interdisciplinary research and knowledge exchange, and working with local schools and wider communities as part of the University’s commitment to being a Civic University. A great example of the power of working closely with local partners comes from Kathryn Ivil, the Nursery Manager at ACoRNS founding partner Aviary Nursery who says: 

“The success and powerful impact of being part of ACoRNS has given us an aspiration as a team to continue to share our new knowledge with a wider audience in our local community”  

We have won prestigious external funding for our research from the Froebel Trust, ESRC, and Epilepsy Research UK. We have also secured successive grants from the University’s ESRC Impact Acceleration Account, funding for several ESRC Festival of Social Science events, and fully funded Doctoral studentships from the South Coast Doctoral Training Partnership.