Dr Katie Cebula

Senior Lecturer in Developmental Psychology


I took a degree in Psychology at the University of Edinburgh, then a PhD on the Son-Rise Program intervention for autism, focusing in particular on prerequisites for evaluation and family experiences. After completing my PhD I worked for 3 years as a research fellow on an MRC-funded project studying socio-cognitive development in typically developing children and in children with developmental disabilities such as Down's syndrome and fragile X syndrome. This project focused on two areas in particular - children's developing understanding of emotional expressions and the use of collaborative learning for children with developmental disabilities. In 2004 I began a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship, researching the experiences and adjustment of siblings of children with autism in families using Applied Behavior Analysis home-based interventions. From 2005 I have held an academic post at the Moray House School of Education, University of Edinburgh. I am also a Chartered Psychologist with the British Psychological Society (BPS).


  • BSc (Hons) Psychology, University of Edinburgh, 1997
  • PhD, University of Edinburgh, 2001

Responsibilities & affiliations

With colleagues from other Scottish Universities I co-organise the Scottish Autism Research Group - an interdisciplinary group of academic researchers, postgraduate students, practitioners and members of the autistic community involved in research into autism.

Undergraduate teaching


  • Cognitive and Social Child Development in Education (MA Education 4th year option)
  • Educational Studies 2A (MA Education/MA Physical Education)

Postgraduate teaching

Pathway co-ordinator:

  • MSc Education (Child and Adolescent Psychology)


Course organiser:

  • Developmental Disabilities: A Psychological Approach (MSc Education)
  • Children and Young People 1 & 2 (MSc Transformative Learning & Teaching)

Open to PhD supervision enquiries?


Areas of interest for supervision

I am keen to supervise research in the areas listed in the research tab.

Current PhD students supervised

  • Juliet Scott-Barrett:  (co-supervised with Prof Lani Florian) 
  • Ghaleyah Alajmi: (co-supervised with Dr Josie Booth & Dr Gale Macleod)

Past PhD students supervised

  • Hsiao-Wei (Joy) Tsai: The Psychological Adjustment of SIblings of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) In Taiwan and the UK: INfluences of BAP characteristics, coping strategies, demographic factors and social support. (co-supervised with Dr Sue Fletcher-Watson) (2016)
  • Ruth Glynne-Owen : How/ in what ways does the diagnostic process for Autism Spectrum Disorder impact on parental perceptions of their pre-school child (co-supervised with Dr Gale Macleod) (2016)
  • Kaori Kimura: Attachment and amae: A comparative study of mother-child close relationships in Japan and Britain (2011)
  • Ai Keow Lim: A longitudinal cross-cultural investigation on the role of make-believe play in children's socio-cognitive development - crossing boundaries (2011)

Research summary

  • Adjustment and experiences of families with children with developmental disabilities
  • Sibling relationships in developmental disabilities (Williams syndrome and autism)
  • Development of social cognition in children with developmental disabilities (Down's syndrome, fragile X syndrome and autism)
  • Educational approaches and experiences for children with developmental disabilities
  • Mental health in students in higher education
  • Teaching of potentially emotionally sensitive topics in higher education

Affiliated research centres

Current project grants

- The role of family system factors in psychological outcomes for children with rare genetic syndromes associated with intellectual disabilities. WIth Dr D Riby (Durham University) and Prof R Hastings (University of Warwick). 2017 - 2019 (£90k: Baily Thomas Charitable Fund).
- Too close to home? Student support in mental health teaching. With Dr G Macleod, Dr K Stone, & Dr S Chan (University of Edinburgh. 2017 (£4k: University of Edinburgh Development Fund Innovation Initiative Grant).

Past project grants

- Experiences of Disabled Students in Initial Teacher Education. With Dr G Macleod (University of Edinburgh) 2006-2007 (DTRF)
- Interventions for Autism: Effects on Siblings 2004-2006 (Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship)
- Collaborative Learning for Children with Learning Disabilities. With Prof J G Wishart (University of Edinburgh) & Ms D S Willis (Napier University)2005 -ongoing (Down's Syndrome Scotland)
- An Integrated View of Research on Autism: From Theory to Practice. Scottish Autism Research Group seminar series. With Dr E McGregor (University of Edinburgh), Dr M Núñez (Glasgow Caledonian University) & Dr J Gómez (University of St Andrews)2005-2007 (ESRC Seminar Grant)
- An Integrated View of Research on Autism: Bringing Together Neurocognitive, Clinical/Diagnostic and Educational Processes. Scottish Autism Research Group seminar series. With Dr E McGregor (University of Edinburgh), Dr M Núñez (Glasgow Caledonian University) & Dr J Gómez (University of St Andrews)2002-2004 (Scottish Hospital Endowments Research Trust; University of Edinburgh Development Trust; British Psychological Society)

View all 26 publications on Research Explorer