Sonya Girdler

Photograph of Sonya Girdler, showing head and shoulders, wearing professional atire.

Prof Sonya Girdler

Program 3 Director, Adulthood

PhD, MSc (Occupational Therapy), BSc (Occupational Therapy)

Professor Sonya Girdler is Program Director of the Autism CRC Adulthood (Program 3), Director of the Curtin Autism Research Group and a Professor of Occupational Therapy at Curtin University in Western Australia. She is also an Adjunct Professor at the University of Western Australia and Affiliated with the Centre of Neurodevelopmental Disorders (KIND) at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden.

Sonya has extensive experience in the field of autism research and neurodevelopmental conditions more broadly. She 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. Sonya has published over 100 papers focussing on these topics. She is passionate about co-producing research with her autistic colleagues and ensuring that the work of Autism CRC makes tomorrow better for autistic Australians.

“I’m passionate about interdisciplinary research and I work closely with colleagues from engineering, humanities and business. I believe that ‘magic happens’ when neurodivergent individuals share their ideas and talents. As Alan Turing once said ‘We can only see a short distance ahead, but we can see plenty there that needs to be done.’”