A Liverpool mum who works with young people and adults with autism is on a mission to change society’s attitudes towards the condition, with the help of her training from Edge Hill University.

Mum of three Moira Riley has a 14-year-old son with autism and says that it is something she has always seen as a positive and something to be celebrated. 

After graduating from Edge Hill in 2020 with a BA (Hons) in Childhood and Youth Studies, Moira has since landed a role as a supported living team leader with young people and adults diagnosed with autism, learning disabilities, acquired brain injury (ABI) and various mental health diagnoses. 

She returned to the University’s campus this week to celebrate her graduation day. 

Moira says that her degree has made her more determined to tackle the attitudes and societal barriers that prevent autistic adults accessing and feeling included in their local communities. 

She said: “I’m interested in young people and educational inclusion, including social and community inclusion for autistic children.   

“My son has autism, and this is something I’ve always seen as a positive and something to be celebrated.  

“But through looking at autism critically, I was surprised to how medically based existing research and theory was.   

“Within education, autism is seen as a deficit that often leads to exclusion. But I believe a lot of problems and inequalities stem from misunderstanding, so I’m hoping to continue my studies with a Critical Autism Masters at Edge Hill to challenge this negativity.”  

Moira, 40, who used to work as a teaching assistant, wanted to come back to education after not excelling at school when she was younger.  

After completing the Fastrack course she was able to get a place on her degree and even found herself studying alongside her daughter who is in the second year of her Nursing degree at Edge Hill.  

She said: “The Fastrack course was intense but prepared me well for the degree. Being a mature student it was all a bit daunting but my tutors were really supportive.  

“During lockdown I worked as a carer in a supportive living setting and considered pausing my studies, but I’m so glad I made the decision to carry on.”   

Professor Tom Cockburn, Head of Social Sciences at Edge Hill, said: “Moira is an excellent example of someone who has taken the chance to return to study after raising a family.  

“She’s always worked at least part-time to look after her family and was debating whether to pause her studies at one point but made the decision to continue and look at the result. With planning and determination it’s amazing what people can achieve.”  

Fastrack gives you the skills and confidence to study for a degree at Edge Hill, find out more about the seven-week programme on the website. If you would like to know more about social sciences courses, visit the website