Shereen Sharaan, PhD

Postdoctoral Researcher


Hello! مرحبا! 

Thank you for stopping by.

My name is Shereen Sharaan. I’m from Egypt, born and raised in a miracle country built on a magical desert…the United Arab Emirates. At age 18, I left the sands to launch my higher education journey. During this journey, I resided in several countries (Japan, Germany, United Kingdom and United Arab Emirates), through which I acquired several multilingual and multicultural experiences. Somewhere along the way, I was introduced to an advanced psychology course named ‘The Psychology of Bilingualism’ which opened my eyes to a world of research exploring the relationship between: knowing more than one language and our ability to think and understand social information.

Moreover, throughout my entire life, I had been actively involved in the field of autism as a support worker but also as a sister to an inspirational younger autistic brother who became the first autistic child in the UAE to attend mainstream school, graduate high school, and join the workforce. Therefore, when the time came to select my PhD dissertation topic, it seemed clear that I should focus on the one that directly grew out of my personal experiences: bilingualism and autism. To my surprise, I found this interface received very little attention in the scientific community.

I passed my PhD viva in the same year as the world's first coronavirus lockdown, and was officially awarded my PhD (Autism, Bilingualism, Executive Function) in February 2021  - under the fab supervision of Dr. Sue Fletcher-Watson (Psychiatry) and Dr. Sarah MacPherson (Psychology). 2021 proved to be an exceptionally wonderful year, much like the sunshine after a harsh and long storm. Shortly after earning my PhD degree,  I was announced Winner of the '2021 Autistica Real World Impact Award' for changing perceptions and supporting diversity in autism research through my PhD project. I also collaborated with Etisalat UAE on ‘World Wider Web’, a pioneering technology that converts the world wide web to an autistic-friendly web - it has since received dozens of international awards. Check it out here:

I am currently based in Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates), to facilitate further neurodiversity research in this beautiful part of the world. You see, I am passionate about collecting research data from the Middle East and securing international research collaborations – to diversify psychology / autism research. This is because it has typically focused on WEIRD (Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich and Democratic) research samples, which represent approximately 80% of research participants but only 10% of the world’s population!




2016 – 2020                                  

The University of Edinburgh, UK

School of Psychology, Philosophy, and Language Sciences

PhD in Psychology (Bilingualism, Autism, Executive Functions)


2017 – 2018                                  

The University of Edinburgh, UK

School of Health in Social Sciences (Clinical Psychology)

PG Certificate in Children and Young People’s Mental Health and Psychological Practice


2013 – 2014                                  

Newcastle University, UK

School of Education, Communication, and Language Sciences

MSc in Clinical Linguistics and Evidence-Based Practices


2006 – 2011                                  

The American University of Sharjah, UAE

School of Business and Management

BSc in Business Administration (Major in Marketing)

Minor in Psychology

Research summary

Participatory autism research; Neurodiversity and play / learning / creativity / identity / well-being; Bilingualism and executive functions in autism; Integrating cognition and neuroscience to understand child development; Diversification of psychological research beyond WEIRD (White, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, Democratic) samples.

Affiliated research centres

Project activity

My PhD research resulted in the 1st published study from the Arab World on the impact of bilingualism on the learning skills of autistic children.

This is an important area of research because more than half the world is bilingual - and there are growing concerns from parents, educators, practitioners and policy makers about raising autistic children with more than one language. If autistic people do not receive equal access to languages like their typically developing peers do, they will be excluded from important life contexts as they are left unable to access their identities, families, communities, education, leisure and professional opportunities.

I am especially proud of the collaborations I secured in the UAE during my PhD journey at the University of Edinburgh - A whopping 22 UAE autism centers, schools, and universities took part in my research, making this one of the largest autism research collaborations at doctoral level. 

For project results, publications, and public engagement: