Twitter Q&A: autism, women and girls

We are delighted to announce that we will be hosting the first of a series of four twitter Q&As on Monday 20 November. The Q&A will focus on autism, women and girls and will feature a panel of experts from the National Autistic Society Women and Girls conference; Dr Judith Gould, Lorraine MacAlister and Rachel Townson. This Twitter Q&A is made possible thanks to the generous sponsorship of Axcis Education.  

We will host the discussion on our @networkautism account between 18.30-19.30 GMT on 20 November 2017. The discussion will look to give advice and support to professionals, parents and autistic people on the topic of autism, women and girls. You can follow and take part in the discussion on the day by using the hashtag #autismwomen

This is a fantastic opportunity to ask your autism questions to this range of autism experts, as well as wider questions you may have around autism.

You can tweet questions in advance using the hashtag #autismwomen, or if you're not on twitter, email them to us at and we'll put your questions to the panel during the Q&A - you'll be able to catch up with the responses in the archive we compile on Storify after the event.

More about our expert panellists:

Dr Judith Gould

Judith Gould, is the Lead Consultant at The NAS Lorna Wing Centre for Autism and retired as Director of the Centre in 2015. She is a Chartered Consultant Clinical Psychologist, with over 40 years experience, specialising in autism spectrum disorders and learning disabilities.  

Before being the Director of The Lorna Wing Centre she worked as a member of the scientific staff of the Medical Research Council Social Psychiatry Unit and was a Senior Lecturer at the Institute of Psychiatry, University of London. She has also worked as a Clinical Psychologist within both health and social services.  She has published widely in the field of autism spectrum disorders.  Her current interest is the diagnosis of women and girls in the spectrum.

Lorna Wing and Judith Gould’s early work in the 1970s on the epidemiology of autism and related conditions, led to the concept of a spectrum of autistic conditions. Judith Gould together with Lorna Wing set up The Centre for Social and Communication Disorders (now the Lorna Wing Centre for Autism) which was the first service in the UK to provide a complete diagnostic, assessment and advice service for children, adolescents and adults with social and communication disorders.  

In addition to setting up the Centre as a model for diagnosing autism spectrum disorders the Centre’s team offers training to professionals in their methods of diagnosis and assessment of needs. Lorna Wing and Judith Gould developed an interview schedule called the Diagnostic Interview for Social and Communication Disorders (DISCO) to be used as part of the diagnostic process. This schedule enables the professional to use a dimensional approach when making a diagnosis which is more helpful than diagnostic sub-grouping when planning treatment, education and care. This approach bests fits the new DSM 5 Diagnostic Classification System. The DISCO is widely used throughout the UK and overseas and training in its use is carried out both at the Centre and internationally.

Lorraine MacAlister 

Lorraine is an Autism Training Consultant for The National Autistic Society, the leading UK charity for autistic people (including those with Asperger syndrome) and their families. Lorraine is passionate about increasing understanding of autism.

Lorraine has worked with a variety of individuals on the autism spectrum, including working in residential settings for autistic adults and at a local Autism Services Group. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a Postgraduate Certificate in Autism.

Working at the NAS since 2005, Lorraine has delivered a variety of autism training to both professionals and families. Covering topics including autism, the SPELL framework, sensory differences, continence, relationships, sexuality and boundaries, and is currently working on the development of an online module for clinicians on diagnosis of autism in women and girls. She has lectured on autism at a variety of UK Universities and is an Honorary Lecturer at the University of Cumbria.

Publications include Toilet Training and the Autism Spectrum: A Guide for Professionals (2016) with Dr Eve Fleming, Toileting problems in children with autism (2014) in The Nursing Times, and the Autism Seminars for Families Facilitator Resource Pack for The National Autistic Society. Lorraine has recently developed the new NAS Teen Life parent support programme and accompanying Licensed User Training. 

Rachel Townson

Rachel has worked in a variety of paid and voluntary roles for The National Autistic Society since 2005, becoming involved in the autism field as her older brother is diagnosed on the autism spectrum. She spent her student years researching autism and was keen to share her knowledge and experience with others, leading her to a career with The National Autistic Society.
Rachel has worked with autistic children and adults in a variety of roles, including as a Befriender, Residential Support Worker and a Family Support Worker. After delivering a variety of family seminars, Rachel joined The National Autistic Society Training Team to work on the Ask autism Project. During her time within the team and through hearing from so many inspiring people on the autism spectrum she began to self-identify as being autistic, and was given a formal diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome was given in June 2014. Rachel continues to work within the training and consultancy team and enjoys her continued work with others on the autism spectrum.
As Online Training Development Manager, she is passionate about increasing people’s autism knowledge and understanding and including the autistic voice throughout our training.
Modules she has been involved in developing include autism and the police service, sport, managing money and safeguarding. Her latest project and the one she is probably most passionate about is the women and girls module!


Date added: 10 November 2017