Skip to content

Toggle service links

You are here

  1. Home
  2. Dr Lindsay O'Dell

Dr Lindsay O'Dell

Profile summary

Professional biography

I am a senior lecturer in the Children and Young people group in the Faculty of Health and Social Care. My key area of teaching and research interest focuses on children who are in some way ‘different’, including children with autism, working children, sexually abused children and children with a visible difference. I have pursued this through my teaching and research at a number of universities before joining the OU in September 2008.

I am interested in ‘difference’ in terms of concepts such as cultural identity, geographical location, gender, ethnicity, age and (dis)ability. This has led me to become involved in a number of projects such as a DelPHE/British Council funded project to work with the Royal University in Phnom Pehn (where I was an adjunct professor to the Psychology Department) and an ESRC funded project to examine young people’s unusual work roles (including young people who act as young carers and language brokers). I am also editor of the international journal Children & Society.

Research interests

My research focuses on three broad areas:

  • Constructions of child development in contemporary society, including issues of migration and 'culture'
  • neurological difference and the construction of autism
  • Child abuse, gender based violence across the lifespan

My recent research and development grants have included:
Principle Investigator on an ESRC funded project ‘Young people’s representations of conflicting roles in child development’ (project value £45,000 for 18 months 01/04/2004- 01/10/2006).
The project was rated as ‘good’ by the ESRC and we are currently writing a new bid.

  • different childhoods
  • Facebook, social networking and young people with autism
  • autistic spaces


Teaching interests

My key teaching interests are within the children and young people area, particularly:

  • Lifespan development and early years development
  • Child abuse, child protection
  • Developmental psychology
  • Research methods

I am interested in acknowledging 'difference' in teaching situations, including difference around gender, 'culture', ethnicity, (dis)ability and geographical location. I have a strong commitment to equal opportunities and valuing diversity. I have experience of committee membership on the University of Brighton’s Committee for Diversity and Widening Participation. In additon, I have been an Education Liaison Officer at the University of Luton, which involved working on Departmental and University level initiatives to broaden access to Higher Education in the local community.

I have experience of examining undergraduate programmes at 3 British Universities and at Masters' level I have examined work at the University of Cape Town, South Africa.  I have experience validating Masters and undergraduate programmes (as the external consultant on the validation Framework for Continuing Professional, Personal and Practice Development, Faculty of Health, Social Care and Education at Manchester Metropolitan University, 2007 and BSc Developmental and Educational Psychology programme at University of Northampton 2008).

I have been successful in obtaining funds for two teaching related projects:

British Council and Delphe funded project working in partnership with the Psychology Department at the Royal University of Phnom Pehn, Cambodia. Project value £24,000 over 3 years commencing September 2007
Erasmus Organising Mobilities and University of Brighton funded. The project was to organise an Erasmus exchange programme between the University of Brighton and Frederico II, Naples, Italy in November 2007. Project value £1,000.

Research groups

NameTypeParent Unit
Children and Young People Research GroupGroupFaculty of Health and Social Care


Externally funded projects

Swedish/UK research dialogue on critical approaches to autism
RoleStart dateEnd dateFunding source
Lead01 Sep 201631 Aug 2017ISRF Independent Social Research Foundation

The project will enable academics from the UK and Sweden to engage in a series of meetings and dialogues. Dr Lindsay O’Dell (The Open University, UK) and Associate Professor Hanna Bertilsdotter Rosqvist (Umea University, Sweden) will visit each other to explore and refine conceptual work around the construction of autism. Their joint work to date has begun to develop a critical approach to understanding autism, conceptualising it as an identity rather than as a medical diagnostic category. This approach, whilst becoming more recognised, is still in its earliest stages of development as an international research field.

Narratives of ADHD: A qualitative study of women’s narrative accounts of living with ADHD
RoleStart dateEnd dateFunding source
Lead01 Apr 201531 Mar 2016BRITAC British Academy

Taking a qualitative, discursive approach to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder we focus on the narratives of women in the UK who have either a formal, or self defined, diagnosis of ADHD. Understandings and patterns of diagnosis of ADHD can be seen to be gendered, with the assumption that it affects boys and men. The study will contribute to knowledge on the lives of girls and women with ADHD, examining women’s retrospective accounts to make sense of their transition through childhood to become adults with ADHD. The project is an exploratory study to collect a new, small corpus of qualitative data on women with ADHD and to identify issues to be explored in a future larger scale research project. The project aims to carry out a discursive analysis of women’s narratives to: • Investigate the identity work of women in relation to their experiences of living with ADHD • Explore (possible) differences in the way women assumed an ADHD identity in either childhood or adulthood; in order to examine how ADHD impacted upon their childhood and the role of diagnosis in childhood, later in adulthood or self-identification • Explore how women account retrospectively for ADHD in their childhood and how they construe their transitions to adulthood This will be of interest to qualitative researchers in ADHD, gender and disability studies and practitioners in health, social care and education.

Evaluation of Spinal Injuries Association
RoleStart dateEnd dateFunding source
Lead26 Jan 201530 Apr 2015Spinal Injuries Association

Aims of the evaluation: • To cover all 10 regional centres in England and Wales, including the service based at Headley Court for armed forces • Evaluate current peer support service in the regions • Explore areas of need for additional service provision e.g. peer support in the community, further support for families and friends, additional support for healthcare practitioners • Explore other issues as required for example, examine the mixed feedback regarding feeling more/less isolated following seeing a peer support worker

Critical autism network: Policy, practice and identities in 5 national contexts
RoleStart dateEnd dateFunding source
Lead01 Sep 201431 Aug 2017LEVERHULME The Leverhulme Trust

Drawing on expertise from the UK, Australia, Brazil, Canada and Sweden, the Critical Autism Research Network brings together researchers who are keen to advance and deepen knowledge about the complex worlds of autism experiences, identities, cultures, politics and policy. Bridging a range of academic disciplines from sociology to philosophy of science to political science and psychology, network leaders are interested primarily in locating what we can learn comparatively about the experience of autism in different national contexts focusing on five themes: the construction of autism; advocacy; neurodiversity; policies and interventions. The bid will support three annual meetings which will enable the group to work together, to host conferences around the network’s key themes and to produce a series of publications.


Views and Experiences of Sex, Sexuality and Relationships Following Spinal Cord Injury: A Systematic Review and Narrative Synthesis of the Qualitative Literature (2020)
Earle, Sarah; O'Dell, Lindsay; Davies, Alison and Rixon, Andrew
Sexuality and Disability ((Early Access))

Adult women and ADHD: on the temporal dimensions of ADHD identities (2019-06-03)
Stenner, Paul; O'Dell, Lindsay and Davies, Alison
Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour, 49(2) (pp. 179-197)

Role of peer support for people with a spinal cord injury (2019-03-27)
O'Dell, Lindsay; Earle, Sarah; Rixon, Andrew and Davies, Alison
Nursing Standard, 34(4) (pp. 69-75)

Childhoods past and present: anxiety and idyll in reminiscences of childhood outdoor play and contemporary parenting practices (2019)
Rixon, Andy; Lomax, Helen and O'Dell, Lindsay
Children's Geographies, 17(5) (pp. 618-629)

Doing it differently: emancipatory autism studies within a neurodiverse academic space (2019)
Bertilsdotter Rosqvist, Hanna; Kourti, Marianthi; Jackson-Perry, David; Brownlow, Charlotte; Fletcher, Kirsty; Bendelman, Daniel and O'Dell, Lindsay
Disability & Society, 34(7-8) (pp. 1082-1101)

[Editorial] Different adulthoods: Normative development and transgressive trajectories (2018-08-01)
O’Dell, Lindsay; Brownlow, Charlotte and Bertilsdotter Rosqvist, Hanna
Feminism & Psychology, 28(3) (pp. 349-354)

Young peoples’ reflections on what teachers think about family obligations that conflict with school: A focus on the non-normative roles of young caring and language brokering (2017-11-01)
Crafter, Sarah; Cline, Tony; Abreu, Guida de and O'Dell, Lindsay
Childhood, 24(4) (pp. 517-530)

‘‘You try to keep a brave face on but inside you are in bits’’: Grandparent experiences of engaging with professionals in Children’s Services (2017-05-01)
Tarrant, Anna; Featherstone, Brid; O'Dell, Lindsay and Fraser, Clare
Qualitative Social Work, 16(3) (pp. 351-366)

Critical autism studies: exploring epistemic dialogues and intersections, challenging dominant understandings of autism (2016-05-07)
O'Dell, Lindsay; Bertilsdotter Rosqvist, Hanna; Ortega, Francisco; Brownlow, Charlotte and Orsini, Michael
Disability & Society, 31(2) (pp. 166-179)

Using vignette methodology as a tool for exploring cultural identity positions of language brokers (2015-11-24)
Crafter, S.; de Abreu, G.; Cline, T. and O'Dell, L.
Journal of Constructivist Psychology, 28(1) (pp. 83-96)

"What's the point in having friends?" reformulating notions of friends and friendship for adults with autism. (2015-10-01)
Bertilsdotter Rosqvist, Hanna; Brownlow, Charlotte and O'Dell, Lindsay
Disability Studies Quarterly, 35(4)

Whose development are we talking about? Commentary on Deconstructing Developmental Psychology (2015-08)
O'Dell, Lindsay
Feminism & Psychology, 25(3) (pp. 402-407)

“An Association for all” - Notions of the Meaning of Autistic Self-Advocacy Politics within a Parent-Dominated Autistic Movement (2015-05)
Bertilsdotter Rosqvist, Hanna; O'Dell, Lindsay and Brownlow, Charlotte
Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology, 25(3) (pp. 219-231)

Children, money and work: transitions to adulthood (2014-06)
O'Dell, Lindsay; Crafter, Sarah; Abreu, Guida and Cline, Tony
Australian Community Psychologist, 26(1) (pp. 28-36)

The citizen-worker: ambivalent meanings of ‘real jobs’, ‘full citizenship’ and adulthood in the case of autistic people (2014-06)
Bertilsdotter Rosqvist, Hanna; O'Dell, Lindsay and Brownlow, Charlotte
Australian Community Psychologist, 26(1) (pp. 18-27)

Mapping the social geographies of autism – online and off-line narratives of neuro-shared and separate spaces (2013)
Bertilsdotter Rosqvist, Hannah; Brownlow, Charlotte and O'Dell, Lindsay
Disability & Society, 28(3) (pp. 367-379)

The problem of interpretation in vignette methodology in research with young people (2012-12)
O'Dell, Lindsay; Crafter, Sarah; Abreu, Guida de and Cline, Tony
Qualitative Research, 12(6) (pp. 702-714)

Young people’s representations of language brokering (2011)
Cline, Tony; Crafter, Sarah; O'Dell, Lindsay and de Abreu, Guida
Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 32(3) (pp. 207-220)

Constructing 'normal childhoods': Young people talk about young carers (2010-10)
O'Dell, L.; Crafter, S.; De Abreu, G. and Cline, T.
Disability and Society, 25(6) (pp. 643-655)

Recent research on child language brokering in the United Kingdom (2010)
Cline, Tony; De Abreu, Guida; O'Dell, Lindsay and Crafter, Sarah
MediAziono: Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies on Language and Cultures, 10 (pp. 105-124)

Challenging understandings of 'theory of mind': a brief report (2009-12)
Brownlow, Charlotte and O'Dell, Lindsay
Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 47(6) (pp. 473-478)

Representations of autism: Implications for community healthcare practice (2009-07)
Brownlow, Charlotte and O'Dell, Lindsay
Community Practitioner, 82(7) (pp. 18-21)

Changing families, changing childhoods: changing schools? (2009-03)
Cline, Tony; Crafter, Sarah; de Abreu, Guida and O'Dell, Lindsay
Pastoral Care in Education, 27(1) (pp. 29-39)

Young peoples' representations of 'atypical' work in English society (2009)
Crafter, Sarah; O'Dell, Lindsay; Abreu, Guida de and Cline, Tony
Children and Society, 23(3) (pp. 176-188)

'Coping quite well with a few difficult bits': Living with disfigurement in early adolescence (2009)
Prior, Jess and O'Dell, Lindsay
Journal of Health Psychology, 14(6) (pp. 731-740)

Suffering children, dead babies and the appeal of the universal child (2008)
O'Dell, Lindsay
Annual Review of Critical Psychology, 6

Representations of the ‘damaged’ child: ‘child saving’ in a British children’s charity ad campaign (2008)
O'Dell, Lindsay
Children and Society, 22(5) (pp. 383-392)

Complexities and ambiguities in the bonds of love: women carers of elders (2007)
O'Dell, Lindsay
Psychology of Women Section Review, 9(2) (pp. 29-32)

Constructing an autistic identity: AS voices online (2007)
Brownlow, Charlotte and O'Dell, Lindsay
Mental Retardation, 44(5) (pp. 315-321)

Constructing an autistic identity: AS voices online (2006-10)
Brownlow, Charlotte and O'Dell, Lindsay
Mental Retardation, 44(5) (pp. 315-321)

Media reports of links between MMR and autism: a discourse analysis (2005-12)
O'Dell, Lindsay and Brownlow, Charlotte
British Journal of Learning Disabilities, 33(4) (pp. 194-199)

The turn to culture (2004-03)
O'Dell, Lindsay; de Abreu, Guida and O'Toole, Sarah
The Psychologist, 17(3) (pp. 138-141)

Evaluating a schools' service for children with a facial disfigurement: The views of teaching and support staff (2004)
O'Dell, Lindsay and Prior, Jess
Support for Learning, 20(1) (pp. 35-40)

Distinctly different? Descriptions of the sexually abused and 'non abused' child (2003)
O'Dell, L.
Educational and Child Psychology, 20(1) (pp. 22-33)

Ethical Issues for Qualitative Research in Online Communities (2002-10)
Brownlow, Charlotte and O'Dell, Lindsay
Disability and Society, 17(6) (pp. 685-694)

Smokers' representations of their own smoking: A Q-methodological study (2002)
Collins, Patricia; Maguire, Moria and O'Dell, Lindsay
Journal of Health Psychology, 7(6) (pp. 641-652)

Conclusion: theorising transgressive developmental trajectories and understanding children seen as ‘different’ (2018-10-10)
O'Dell, Lindsay; Brownlow, Charlotte and Bertilsdotter-Rosqvist, Hanna
In: O'Dell, Lindsay; Brownlow, Charlotte and Bertilsdotter-Rosqvist, Hanna eds. Different Childhoods: Non/Normative Development and Transgressive Trajectories (pp. 146-156)
ISBN : 9781138654037 | Publisher : Routledge

Introducing normative and different childhoods, developmental trajectory and transgression (2018)
O'Dell, Lindsay; Brownlow, Charlotte and Bertilsdotter-Rosqvist, Hanna
In: O'Dell, Lindsay; Brownlow, Charlotte and Bertilsdotter-Rosqvist, Hanna eds. Different Childhoods: Non/Normative Development and Transgressive Trajectories
ISBN : 9781138654037 | Publisher : Routledge

Working Children (2018)
O'Dell, Lindsay; Crafter, Sarah; de Abreu, Guida and Cline, Tony
In: O'Dell, Lindsay; Brownlow, Charlotte and Bertilsdotter-Rosqvist, Hanna eds. Different Childhoods: Non/Normative Development and Transgressive Trajectories (pp. 119-131)
ISBN : 9781138654037 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : Abingdon

Child language brokers’ representations of parent-child relationships (2017)
Cline, Tony; Crafter, Sarah; Abreu, Guida de and O'Dell, Lindsay
In: Antonini, Rachele; Cirillo, Letizia; Rossato, Linda and Torresi, Ira eds. Non-professional Interpreting and Translating: State of the art and future of an emerging field of research. Benjamins Translation Library (129) (pp. 281-294)
ISBN : 9789027258755 | Publisher : John Benjamins Publishing Company

The 'harm story' in childhood sexual abuse: Contested understandings, disputed knowledges (2003)
O'Dell, L.
In: Warner, Sam and Reavey, Paula eds. New Feminist Stories of Child Sexual Abuse (pp. 131-147)
ISBN : 978-0-415-25943-9 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : UK

The 'harm' story in childhood sexual abuse: contested understandings, disputed knowledges (2003)
O'Dell, Lindsay
In: Reavey, Paula and Warner, Sam eds. New Feminist Stories of Child Sexual Abuse: Sexual Scripts and Dangerous Dialogues (pp. 131-147)
ISBN : 0-415-25943-6 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : London

Different Childhoods: Non/Normative Development and Transgressive Trajectories (2018)
O'Dell, Lindsay; Brownlow, Charlotte and Bertilsdotter-Rosqvist, Hanna eds.
ISBN : 978-1-138-65403-7 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : Abingdon, Oxon

Creating a Virtual Research Environment to build a research Community (2014)
Bruce, James; Faulkner, Dorothy and O'Dell, Lindsay
In : UKCGE International Annual Conference (2014, Dublin)

Using the vignette methodology as a tool for exploring cultural identity positions (2010-09)
Crafter, Sarah; De Abreu, Guida; Cline, Tony and O'Dell, Lindsay
In : European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction (EARLI) Special Interest Group 21: Learning and Teaching in Culturally Diverse Settings: Moving through cultures of learning (2-3 Sep 2010, Utrecht, The Netherlands)

Researching children and young people's lives: the problem of interpretation in vignette methodology (2010-08)
Crafter, S.; O'Dell, Lindsay; Cline, T. and de Abreu, G.
In : BPS Qualitative Research in Psychology Section QMiP conference (23-25 Aug 2010, Nottingham, UK)