My name is Dr Samantha Flynn and I am an Assistant Professor in CEDAR at the University of Warwick.
I am involved in a variety of research projects in CEDAR, including supervising a Cerebra funded PhD project called Positive Family Connections, which aims to develop and evaluate a positively focussed family-systems intervention for families of children with developmental disabilities.
During my undergraduate degree I was convinced, as were most other Psychology students I knew, that I would be a Clinical Psychologist working with children with learning disabilities.
In my third year, I found myself a voluntary placement in my local CAMHS LD service and, while I was not able to engage in any clinical work, I loved meeting children and their families and seeing the difference that could be made.
When I graduated, I applied for more Assistant Psychologist jobs than I care to remember. While I was applying for all of these jobs I was also working as a Voluntary Research Assistant for my dissertation supervisor, and I quickly realised two things: (1) I really enjoyed the work, and (2) I could build a fulfilling career in research and still work with people with learning disabilities and their families.
Soon after this, I started my PhD and began working on various research projects alongside it to build up my experience. In April 2016, I started working as a Research Assistant in CEDAR at the University of Warwick on a project being led by Professor Richard Hastings.
Since starting in CEDAR, I have been fortunate to work on many projects, including studies of interventions for children and adults with learning disabilities, and the people who support them (e.g., their family members, paid support staff).
A lot of my research is related to the mental health and well-being of children and adults with learning disabilities and their families, but I am also co-leading a research project that is looking at the effects of a school-based intervention to improve the reading skills of children in special schools. I am also interested in the impact of physical illness and chronic health conditions on the wellbeing of people with learning disabilities.
I feel incredibly proud to be part of a department that focusses on doing research that has a real-world impact for people with learning disabilities and the people who support them. During my time in CEDAR, I have been able to grow as a researcher and this is, in part, due to being able to work with and learn from a variety of other people, including people with learning disabilities, family carers, professionals, and other academics.
When I am not working, I can be found spending time with my daughter, reading a book, catching up on episodes of Call the Midwife, or enjoying a cup of tea and a slice of cake in a cosy local café.