I was born in Sheffield and studied at Royal Holloway College, University of London; the University of Massachusetts at Amherst (where I spent a scholarship year in 1980-81); and the University of Warwick. Having studied History as an undergraduate, and with a PhD in Political Science, I subsequently trained as a secondary school teacher of English and worked in Educational Research. I work at Sheffield Hallam University as a Lecturer in Education.

I am also a poet and have worked as a freelance creative writing tutor in Higher Education and in community and other organisations, including a prison and local BBC radio. In 1998  my first full-length collection of poetry, Walking on Tiptoe, won the Staple First Editions Award for best manuscript. This book included a number of poems based on Dylan’s autism diagnosis and on the years immediately following diagnosis. The book is out of print now but was re-issued by Bluechrome Press in 2007 as Walking on Tiptoe and Other Poems.

In 2000 I was awarded an Arts Council of England grant to complete my second full-length collection of poems, The Bat Detector (Wrecking Ball Press, 2005). The title sequence of poems and a further section of the book draw on my experience of  living with autism. The violist Robin Ireland composed original solo viola music for some of the poems in The Bat Detector  and these were released as a spoken word/music CD by Meridien Records in 2007. My most recent collection, A Dart of Green and Blue (Arc Publications, 2010) has a less explicit focus on autism although Dylan continues to make an appearance.  For more details about my poetry please see the Poems page.


8 thoughts on “Liz

  1. Liz, hi! I’m glad you stopped by–thank you. You reminded me that I saw a recent book write up that immediately made me think of you:

    The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida. It is a novel written by a 13 year old Japanese boy with autism.

    I’ve seen some fab reviews, and I’ve also read much is lost in translation:

    But still may be of interest you and others.

    Hope you are well,


    • Hi Christy – nice to hear from you. I loved your last post – very timely. Such an eclectic mix of quotes and music – the overall impact was very powerful. Now if the civil servants added such montages to their daily briefings to ministers, they might make decisions differently…

      Thanks for thinking of me. BBC Radio here serialised the Higashida book and I was so very moved by it when I caught it on the drive into work one day. I’m reading the book at the moment and am having different reactions to it now – thought I might blog a review at some point…

      Look forward to your next post 🙂



      • Liz’s observations on autism and language and communication are so insightful, beautifully put, stimulating to much thought about the extraordinary span of this condition that I have recommended to the National Autistic Society,of which in my long ago youth I was Chairman, that their magazine (for which I have severe criticism ) would benefit and all its readers if Liz wrote a piece for them each quarter, distilling her unique view point as mother, teacher.and poet. I am a father and now and then write poetry …so I too think about words and the challenge of writing, not always from a place of agony but from a place that might be akin to sitting on a branch of a tree that might fall at any moment and waiting for a wind to blow in a line or two… and then. How I wish that some lines would blow into my son’s 57 year old head. Right now he is sitting behind me and I am wondering whether I should try the jigsaw, explore the true wonders of the IPad and all the autism applications, and find the words he lost or never learnt but which I feel convinced are buried somewhere all but unreachable.. So it is good to be reminded of Coleridge …and his essay on the imagination ….

        Liked by 2 people

      • Hello Michael – I want to thank you for reading my blog and for your support. You have so much experience and knowledge of autism – as you say, 57 years of living with it – and much to teach us from the branch of your tree. So thank you. I love the image of you sitting while the wind blows poems – I hope there are bats up there too 🙂 Like you, I am convinced there are words buried somewhere. The realisation that Dylan could still be sitting behind me at 57 gives pause for thought. Again, thank you.


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  4. This is not a comment from an admirer of the blog but a sort of way to pass on information to anyone with profound interests in autism and its people as Liz and I do. On 22 October at the Institute of Psychiatry (De Crespigny Park SE5 8AF) a hosts of experts including one parent take part in a discussion on treatments for autism… the title of the evening -6-8 pm- is The Promises,Perils and Politics of Pharmaceutical Intervention. The event is ticketed.



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