Jessica K Doyle is a Founding Director of Thriving Autistic
Jessica is an autistic researcher with a passion for engagement in psychological research on autism, specifically autistic neuro, perceptual and sensory systems. Jessica has attained an honours B.A. in psychology from Trinity College Dublin and is a graduate member (M.Ps.S.I) of the Psychological Society of Ireland (PSI), and is a committee member on the PSI Autism SIG. Jessica is currently working as an assistant psychologist at the Adult Autism Practice and a Sensory Processing Project officer at Trinity College Dublin
From 2019 to 2021, Jessica's focus has been on her international research into autistic perception, exploring the links between perception, cognition and anxiety in autistic adults through the lens of hierarchical predictive coding and investigating formats of thought in autistic adults. Previously she was on a research team that conducted international research that looked at the effects of anthropomorphism on loneliness in autistic adults. She is presently on a team exploring autistic individuals experience of psychiatric care. Jessica recently helped organise and took part in a series of webinars on Autistic Women and Girls, and you can hear more about her research in this video from that event: https://youtu.be/nEIbNPOmRhY
Jessica enjoys linking and uncovering patterns, hypothesising and investigating theories and experimenting with translating findings into applicable practice. Such applications include her prototype outdoor sensory space designed to be optimal for an autistic system by minimising uncertainty while enabling vestibular and proprioceptive input, fresh air and exercise. She is currently experimenting with adding a sound experience space to facilitate exploration of stimming and pressure of movement through sound. She designed The Autism Covid-19 Individual health Action Plan, a free visual resource for autistic individuals prepared to help clarify and navigate steps to a COVID-19 diagnosis and plan for hospital stays. You can find a link to the Action Plan here: https://www.thrivingautistic.org/covid/
From 2011 to 2014, Jessica was a founding director of Galway Autism Partnership (GAP) while she was in Galway studying TV and Film Production. In her role as a director of GAP, she conceptualised, applied for funding, developed, piloted, facilitated and advised on the 'special interest model' youth cafe; a youth cafe designed for autistic individuals aged 11- 17 years in mainstream education who are at risk of bullying or social isolation. Jessica created the special interest youth cafe to facilitate autistic youths in forming connections and friendships by helping them link their passions through various multimedia mediums (for example, creating a stop motion animation explored through graffiti about Thomas the tank engine and Moshi monsters). Her own experience of being a young autistic individual inspired Jessica to create a space where autistic youths could express themselves, feel empowered to be themselves, form friendships and belong. Jessica also designed and led the team that built the GAP sensory room. Jessica also put together a proposal for an autistic girls club.
When Jessica is not working, researching or working on her sensory space, she enjoys dancing outside her house, looking up at the stars and listening to music or the clicking high pitched sound of bats. Daily breaks from work involve walking outside and listening to that electric buzz of life, of little feet and little leaves, crushing twigs breaking rustling in the trees, across the grass, the vibration of little wings breaking from flight and the steady melodic squawks of birds, interrupted by talking to the cows in the field and trying to spot Ben, the cat, who is not quite sure yet if he wants to be her friend. She also enjoys hanging out with Fred, the scholar and Emmet, the elephant, snug under a weighted blanket listening to audiobooks. From time to time, Jessica enjoys hyper-focusing on inventing things, creating art, writing and attempting to play musical instruments and, most recently, growing far too many plants.
Jessica believes in an approach to autism research that takes a neutral perspective — similar to the difference between a diesel engine and a petrol engine. An autistic neurotype and a non-autistic neurotype have many similarities, but they also have many differences. Treating them both as the same will cause problems, as will treating one as a malfunction of the other. Respectful research must view different neurotypes as independently valid with a spectrum of contextually dependant strengths and challenges. Findings from such research can then be translated into the design and adaption of environments and societies that promote optimal functioning and outcomes for both