MSc Autism Studies Panagiota Katsonopoulou, Greece

Tell us a little bit about your background...
I grew up in a small seaside town of Greece called Aigio and finished my Bachelor studies in Speech and Language Therapy in the nearby city of Patras. I have always wanted to live the life of a big city, which is why I moved and worked for 2 years as a Speech and Language Therapist in Athens. As a professional, I realized the knowledge gaps I had and that led me to search for higher education with the prospect of specializing in my chosen field.

What inspired you to study your chosen subject at Strathclyde?
While working as a paediatric Speech and Language Therapist, the majority of my caseload were children on the Autism Spectrum. That sparked my curiosity and made me want to learn more in order to provide the best support possible for these children and their families. Therefore, I decided that a masters in Autism Studies would be ideal for me.

What advice would you give to someone considering studying your course?
I would advise them to go for it! This course gave me the opportunity to learn in a holistic way, not from the perspective of a Speech and Language Therapist only. Having students from other disciplines provided the best environment to exchange knowledge and learn from each other through constructive conversations. Moreover, a very good asset of this course is their excellent professors, that will support and guide you throughout this journey. Also, Scotland is a very beautiful place to live in and explore.

Tell us a little bit about your experience on the course...
Being a small group of eleven people I think it was beneficial, as it gave us the opportunity to spend a lot of time exchanging opinions and discussing in depth about the information that was the topic of the presentation. Having assignments instead of tests was another good thing: I believe it helped me develop my own research skills and critical thinking, rather than having to prerform at a specific day and time. Strathclyde as a university provided very good facilities as well. The library was a good place to study and find relevant information to support your studies.

Tell us a little bit about your experience on placement...
We had a school placement in a special high school that I managed to go to twice but unfortunately the pandemic happened and we were unable to continue. I believe it would have been extremely helpful to apply all the theoretical knowledge of the course into practice. I hope the placement will continue to be part of the course.

What are your professional aspirations for the future?
Completing this course, I hope to acquire specialised knowledge in Autism and be able to support autistic children and their families in community and school settings. Also, I would like to promote awareness around Autism as there are still a lot of misconceptions.

How do you think this course helped prepare you for your future career?
This course has provided me with the in-depth knowledge and critical thinking I had hoped for and I can already see the difference in which I approach my profession towards supporting autistic individuals. It has helped me boost my professional career as a Speech and Language Therapist specialized in Autism, and I can already see the impact of this while I was looking for a job and now I am already working in my chosen field here in Scotland and trying to work out with my managers how best to use the knowledge I acquired during the course.

Were there any memorable moments you experienced during your time on the course?
I will never forget the day our professor and now course leader Gillian gathered us in a room and provided us with coloured pens and big papers in order to brainstorm for our dissertation ideas. That was amazing as everyone could help each other have a look over their ideas and offer their opinions. What a fun day and how helpful!

Any final points or words of wisdom?
I definitely recommend to anyone wanting to gain more in depth holistic knowledge in Autism to join the course. Strathclyde is an amazing university as a whole, with its facilties and university life to support its students. Moreover, Glasgow is an amazing city to spend your time and why not decide to live in, this is what I did in the end!