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Paula Prendeville
Chartered Educational Psychologist, University Lecturer and International Speaker
Paul Prendeville Autism.png
Paula Prendeville

Chartered Educational Psychologist, University Lecturer and International Speaker




A Rights and Quality of Life Perspective

You will learn to take a creative approach to look beyond behaviours that may emerge during your interactions with autistic individuals through an ecological lens. For example, looking beyond the behaviour and identifying how individuals/groups/systems around the individual can impact on his/her/their way of functioning and their quality of life.


It will support you to consider how the environment around an individual may impact on the rights of individuals to participate, i.e. Sensory overload and inadvertent harm, by looking beyond the behaviour and seeing the environment surrounding the individual as the trigger.


You will have the opportunity to look beyond behaviour and consider a strengths and needs-based practical and inclusive strategies that can be used to best support individuals with autism on a daily basis gleaned from the speaker’s experiences and from evidence.​


Paula will look at beyond behaviour and consider an individuals’ quality of life as a way to plan and support him/her/them using a strengths-based approach, for example:​


  • Looking at Cognition - understanding and communicating


  • Mobility - moving and getting around in the world


  • Self-care - attending to one’s hygiene, dressing, eating and staying alone


  • Getting along - interacting with other people in a mode that provides the opportunity to interact on his/her/their terms


  • Life activities - domestic responsibilities, leisure, work and school considerations


  • Participation - joining in community activities, participating in society 

This presentation will reinforce the importance of the rights of individuals to live their best life, on their terms, in inclusive environments of home, school and community settings.


You will learn: 

  • To recognise that behaviour is understood through a communicative lens, i.e. all behaviour is communicative and serves a function.   ​

  • The importance of recognising the right of individuals to express himself/herself/them in a way that is safe, meaningful and inclusive. 

  • ​How over-reliance of talk as a communicative tool in interactions, for example, when an individual has reached saturation point, requires a creative approach to understand what an individual may need.

  • To consider education as a means of supporting an individual to learn skills to support himself/herself/them to function as independently as they can in the world.​

  • To reflect on the challenges of school/educational/work/community settings for individuals, particularly when behaviours are misunderstood.


In addition, you will receive: 

  • A practical overview of behaviour as communication and how both communicative and sensory needs can be met in a creative way to support individuals

  • Creative strategies for alternative ways of communicating and interacting with individuals. ​

  • The importance of creating a strengths-based approach using a quality of life framework to support an individual to live his/her/their best life

  • Practical ways that can support autistic individuals, using high and low tech tools 

  • Evidence that has demonstrated practical applications for individuals.​








Paula Prendeville is a Senior Educational Psychologist in Enable Ireland, Cork.


She is a trained teacher at both primary and secondary levels, a Chartered Psychologist and an Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society (BPS).


She teaches on the doctoral training programmes in Educational Psychology and Clinical Psychology at University College Dublin.


She has published research internationally in the areas of Autism, Teacher Education, Ethics and Inclusion.  Her autism research has included the role of grandparents in families, the experiences of diagnosing females, and the professional needs of teachers who work alongside children. Her current research is in the area of applied ethics and ethical education.


She is consulting with the BPS on professional ethics training. She has completed a visiting scholarship to the Kennedy Institute of Ethics in Georgetown University and has consulted with the World Bank, both in Washington DC. 


Her interactions with autistic individuals and their families are from her experiences as a teacher, a psychologist and a friend. She is a passionate advocate for an ethical, strengths-based approach to understanding, supporting and planning for individuals using quality of life as a framework. 

Paula has spoken internationally in the area of autism at the international conference on autism in Budapest where her first paper on autism focussing on the role of grandparent was selected for an oral presentation following peer review. 

She teaches on a regular basis at third level in UCD. 

Paula has published several reviewed papers in international journals that include Autism and Developmental Disabilities. Her research in autism has included:



  • The Role of Grandparents in Supporting Families of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Family Systems Approach


  • The professional development needs of primary teachers in special classes for children with autism in the Republic of Ireland


  • The self-efficacy of primary teachers in supporting the inclusion of children with an autism spectrum disorder


She is delighted to be invited to speak at the Cork Autism Conference. 


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