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Staff Profile

Dr Lorna Hamilton

Associate Professor

Staff photo of Dr Lorna Hamilton

I am a developmental psychologist with research interests in reading, language and neurodiversity in educational contexts. I lead the ReNEW (Research on Neurodiversity, Environment and Wellbeing) group and contribute to strategic leadership on inclusive education across the university.


  • PhD Psychology, University of York: The role of the home literacy environment in the early literacy development of children at family risk of dyslexia.
  • PGDip (Psychology conversion), Open University
  • MPhil, University of Cambridge
  • BA (Hons) University of Cambridge


I teach across our BSc and MSc programmes and supervise student research projects at undergraduate, Master and taught Doctorate levels.

I teach on the following courses:

  • BSc Psychology
  • BSc Psychology with Child Development
  • BSc Psychology with Counselling
  • BSc Forensic Psychology
  • MSc Psychology of Child and Adolescent Development

Currently, I contribute to the following modules:

  • PSY5003M Qualitative Research Methods
  • PSY5004M Assessment of Individual Differences
  • PSY6010M Neurodiversity in Development (module leader)
  • PSY7001M Psychological Research Methods
  • PSY7003M Child Development


I am interested in diversity in learning and cognition across the lifespan, and how educational experiences relate to mental health and wellbeing in diverse populations. My PhD research focused on home literacy experiences in children with dyslexia and developmental language disorder (DLD). More recently, I have worked with autistic and neurodivergent children, their families and teachers to understand pupils' experiences across the primary-to-secondary school transition. I am an advocate of neurodiversity-affirming education in schools and university settings, and increasingly use participatory methods to understand how educators can provide more fit-for-purpose learning experiences for the widest range of learners.

Current funded projects:

  • STEPS: Improving school transition outcomes for pupils with special educational needs. Sir Halley Stewart Trust (PI | £50,427 | 2022-2025).
  • Project inc. (Inclusive Neurodiverse Campuses). Institute for Social Justice Community Research Grant - in partnership with Spectrum First Education Ltd. (PI | £10,000 | 2023-24)
  • DIVERT: Co-producing a distress tolerance intervention to reduce self-harm episodes in young people. NIHR Research for Patient Benefit (Co-I | £150,000 | 2024-25)

Current PhD students:

  • Alex Bond
  • Sue Mesa
  • Kathryn Lewis
  • Michele Deakin
  • Sammy Williams
  • Georgie Burton

Professional activities

I am a chartered psychologist, Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society and Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

I regularly review for journals in my field, including Child Development, Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, Scientific Studies of Reading, Journal of Research in Reading, Autism in Adulthood and British Journal of Educational Psychology. I have reviewed grant applications for funding agencies including the Research Grants Council of Hong Kong and the Dutch Research Council, and acted as external examiner for several doctoral theses.

I co-facilitate the Autism Community of Practice at York St John University, which brings together autistic people, families and professionals for knowledge exchange and collaboration. I have delivered co-produced training for schools and universities on neurodiversity-affirming practice.

I am past or current external examiner for BPS-accredited BSc and MSc Psychology programmes at University of Bristol, Sheffield Hallam University, Canterbury Christchurch University and City, University of London.

I currently serve as Vice-Chair (Research) for British Psychological Society's Division of Academics, Researchers and Teachers (DART-P).


Peer-reviewed journal articles

Hamilton, L.G. (2024). Emotionally based school avoidance in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic: Neurodiversity, agency and belonging in school. Education Sciences, 14(2), 156-166.

Fernandes-Jesus, M., Hamilton, L.G., Heinemeyer, C., & Parks, J. (2024). Qualitative research methods in the Living Lab: Reflecting upon a learning and teaching approach for promotion psychological literacy. Psychology Learning and Teaching, early online view.

Petty, S., Lambarth, S., & Hamilton, L.G. (2023). Rethinking anxiety and depression for autistic adults through personal narratives: Mixed-method analysis of blog data. Counselling & Psychotherapy Research, early online view.

Lewis, K., Hamilton, L.G., & Vincent, J. (2023). Exploring the experiences of autistic pupils through creative research methods: Reflections on a participatory approach. Infant & Child Development, e2467.  

Martinez, M., Clarke, L., Hamilton, L.G., & Hall, C.J. (2023). Fostering crosslinguistic knowledge about language in young learners: Effects of explicit L2 Spanish grammar learning on L1 English grammar. Language Awareness.

Hamilton, L.G., & Petty, S. (2023). Compassionate pedagogy for neurodiversity in higher education: A conceptual analysis. Frontiers in Psychology, 14. 

Hamilton, L.G., Kelly, L., & Mesa, S. (2023). “I’m able to function better when I know there’s a beginning and an end time”: Autistic adolescents’ experiences of lockdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic. Autism & Developmental Language Impairments, 8, 1-14.

Mesa, S. & Hamilton, L.G. (2022).  “We are different, that’s a fact, but they treat us like we’re different-er”: Multi-informant perspectives on identity development in autistic adolescents. Advances in Autism, 8(3), 217-231.

Hamilton, L.G., Hayiou-Thomas, M.E., & Snowling, M.J. (2021). Storybook reading with children at family risk of dyslexia. Journal of Research in Reading, 44(4), 859-881. 

Hamilton, L.G., O’Halloran, I., & Cutting, N. (2020). Individual differences in narrative production in late childhood: Associations with age and fiction reading experience. First Language, 41(2), 179-199.

Puglisi, M.L., Hulme, C., Hamilton, L.G., & Snowling, M.J. (2017). The home literacy environment is a correlate, but perhaps not a cause, of variations in children’s language and literacy development. Scientific Studies of Reading, 21(6), 498-514. 

Dilnot, J., Hamilton, L.G., Maughan, B., & Snowling, M.J. (2017). Child and environmental factors predicting readiness for learning in children at high risk of dyslexia. Development & Psychopathology, 29(1), 235-244.

Hamilton, L.G., Mesa, S., Hayward, E., Price, R., & Bright, G. (2017). “There’s a lot of places I’d like to go and things I’d like to do”: The daily living experiences of adults with mild to moderate intellectual disabilities during a time of personalised social care reform in the UK. Disability & Society, 32(3), 287-307.

Hamilton, L.G., Hayiou-Thomas, M.E., Hulme, C., & Snowling, M.J. (2016). The home literacy environment as a predictor of the early literacy development of children at family-risk of dyslexia. Scientific Studies of Reading, 20(5), 401-419.

Hamilton, L.G. (2014). Early exposure to storybooks in the home: Validation of title/author checklist measures in a sample of children at elevated risk of reading difficulty. Assessment & Development Matters, 6, 1-31.

Gibson, S.,& Hamilton, L.G. (2013). Knowledge, autonomy and maturity: Developmental and educational concerns as rhetorical resources in adolescents’ discussions regarding the age of electoral majority in England. Journal of Youth Studies, 16(1), 34-53.

Gibson, S., & Hamilton, L.G (2011). The rhetorical construction of polity membership: Identity, culture and citizenship in young people’s discussions of immigration in northern England. Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology, 21(3), 228-242.    

Research reports

Mesa, S., & Hamilton, L.G. (2022). School transitions for autistic young people in mainstream settings. Project report:

Book chapters

Petty, S., Hamilton, L.G., Heasman, B., & Fiberesima N. (2023). Social justice informed therapy and neurodiversity. In Winter, L., & Charura D. (Eds). The Sage handbook of social justice in the psychological therapies. Sage.

Hamilton, L.G., & Hayiou-Thomas, M.E. (2022). Foundations of literacy. In M.J. Snowling, C. Hulme, & K. Nation (Eds.) The science of reading (2nd edn). Blackwell.

Hamilton, L.G. (2017). Dyslexia. In B. Hopkins, E. Geangu., & S. Linkenauger (Eds). The Cambridge encyclopaedia of child development. Cambridge University Press.

Publications continued

Selected conference presentations 

Hamilton, L.G. & Petty, S. (2023). Towards neurodiversity-affirming higher education: Harnessing compassion, choice and systems working. Neurodiversity in Higher Education conference, University of Bristol.

Hamilton, L.G. (2023). Imagining neurodiversity-affirmative education: Listening to neurodivergent pupils. British Educational Research Association, Birmingham UK.

Grose-Hodge, M., & Hamilton, L.G. (2023). Neurodiversify your curriculum. Unconference, 2023.

Hamilton, L.G., Olamaie, M. & Cutting, N. (2021). Longitudinal associations between fiction reading experience and theory of mind in late childhood: A Bayesian analysis. Paper presented at the Experimental Psychology Society online meeting.

Hamilton, L.G., & Cutting, N. (2019). Minding the text: Associations between experience of reading fiction, mentalising and reading comprehension in 9- to 11-year-old children. Paper presented at the Child Language Symposium, Sheffield UK.

Hamilton, L.G. & Mesa, S. (2018). The York Autism Community of Practice. Symposium paper presented at BPS Annual Conference, Nottingham UK. 

Hamilton, L.G., Hayiou-Thomas, M.E., Hulme, C., & Snowling, M.J. (2014).  The home literacy environment of children at family risk of dyslexia: Direct and indirect pathways to reading.  Symposium presentation at the Annual Meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Reading, Santa Fe, NM, USA. 

Selected invited talks

Hamilton, L.G. (2024). Compassionate pedagogy for neurodiversity in higher education. Keynote presentation in University of Exeter’s Neurodiversity Celebration Week programme.

Hamilton, L.G. (2024). Towards neurodiversity affirming education: A bioecological perspective. Centre for Neurodiversity and Development, University of Durham. 

Hamilton, L.G. (2023). Designing for neurodiversity: Applying universal design and compassionate pedagogy in higher education. University College Dublin, Neurodiversity masterclass series.

Hamilton, L.G. (2022). Book learning: The role of reading for pleasure in the development of language, literacy and social cognition. Centre for Applied Psychological Science seminar series, Teesside University.

Hamilton, L.G. (2019). Children’s fiction reading experience and the development of advanced mentalising skills and reading comprehension. Department of Psychology, University of Sussex. 

Hamilton, L.G., & Mesa, S. (2019). The transitions project: Exploring the journey from Year 6 to Year 9 for young people on the autism spectrum in mainstream education. York Celebrates Autism, SPARK York.

Hamilton, L.G. (2017). The home literacy environment and children at risk of reading difficulties: Findings from the Wellcome Language & Reading Project. Department of Psychology, Canterbury Christchurch University. 

Hamilton, L.G. (2015).  The home literacy environment and school readiness.  School of Education, University of Leeds.