Photo of Sonya Girdler

Sonya Girdler

Affiliated to research

Sonya is a Professor of Occupational Therapy at Curtin University (Australia) and affiliated with the Center of Neurodevelopmental Disorders at Karolinska Institutet (KIND)

About me

Sonya is a Professor of Occupational Therapy at Curtin University, Australia, an Adjunct Professor at the University of Western Australia, and affiliated with the Center of Neurodevelopmental Disorders at the Karolinska Institutet (KIND).  Sonya Director of the Curtin Autism Research Group (CARG) and Director of Program 3 (Adulthood) of the 'Living with Autism' Cooperative Research Centre in Australia. 


Research description

Sonya oversees all research activity and programs within CARG. Sonya has extensive experience in the field of autism research and neurodevelopmental disorders more broadly.  Sonya is particularly interested in understanding functioning in autism using the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (WHO), the development, evaluation and translation into practice of evidence-based interventions (particularly social skills,  strengths-based programs and mental health), and research directed at improving the participation of autistic individuals in major life areas such as employment and education. 

The work of CARG is underpinned by a philosophy of "Nothing about you without you" with all projects either being co-lead or informed by autistic individuals themselves (Photovoice study looking at quality of life from the perspective of autistic adults).  CARG is fundamentally committed to impact and translation, frequently holding community and virtual events, informing the community of the latest evidence-based practice.  

Sonya is the lead researcher on the 'Talk to Me' Mass Open Online Course  and the Managing Study, Stress and Mental Health at University which teaches strategies to help improve the mental health of young people, recognize concerning behaviors, and feel better prepared to have conversations about mental health with others.  To date these  MOOC have reached over 40,000 enrollments world wide.  

Sonya is active in advocating and supporting other women in research in STEMM related fields, recently completing a story telling project with the Centre for Stories sharing her journey to Professor (Sonya's Centre for Stories recording - Women in STEMM) and recording a Podcast with SAGE (Science in Australia Gender Equity) “Gender equity is a whole of university issue, not just a women’s problem”