Gemma Williams

Dr Gemma Williams

Research Officer, Public Health
Available For Postgraduate Supervision


Gemma is an autistic Early Career Researcher, whose Linguistics PhD investigated the breakdowns in mutual understanding that can occur between autistic and non-autistic people, based on the idea of the ‘double empathy problem’. Her doctoral research has also included a focus on loneliness in autism and the use of creative and participatory methodologies.

Prior to joining Swansea University as a Research Officer on the Wellcome Trust-funded ‘Autism: from menstruation to menopause’ project led by Dr Aimee Grant, Gemma held an ESRC Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Brighton in Social Policy. In her current post Gemma also draws on her experience working as a Maternity Auxiliary Nurse and a trainee midwife in her early twenties.

Gemma is a member of the Westminster Commission on Autism and an Associate with the National Development Team for Inclusion where she’s contributed to a number of commissioned reports, projects and inquiries aimed at improving service provision for autistic and neurodivergent people within the UK, NHS England and Local Authorities.

Gemma is currently working on her monograph ‘Understanding Others in a Neurodiverse World’, due for publication by Pavilion Press in 2024.

Areas Of Expertise

  • autism and neurodivergence
  • cross-neurotype communication
  • cognitive linguistics (relevance theory)
  • health and social care policy
  • autoethnography
  • creative methodologies
  • co-production
  • sensory environments (and neurodivergent sensory processing)

Career Highlights

Teaching Interests

Gemma holds a postgraduate teaching qualification (Masters in English Language Teaching, from the University of Sussex), of which at least 50% was focused on pedagogy and practice.

Prior to entering academic Gemma spent eight years teaching English as a foreign language in a number of contexts: from asylum seekers, refugees and members of the settled community in Brighton, to Business English learners. She has also worked as a Teaching Assistant for a vocational NQV provider (Fashion and Music) with young people who had fallen outside of typical education services.

In 2021 she also lectured on modules shared by BA courses in English Language, English Language and English Literature, English Language and Media and English Language and Creative Writing at the University of Brighton.

Research Award Highlights Collaborations