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Dr Jenny Gibson

Social impact and cognitive underpinnings of specific language impairments; pragmatic language impairments and autism; development of non-literal language comprehension and pragmatic language development
Dr Jenny Gibson

Lecturer in Psychology and Education

Fellow Lucy Cavendish College

Member of the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists

Member of the British Academy of Childhood Disability Strategic Research Group

Social impact and cognitive underpinnings of specific language impairments

Pragmatic language impairments and autism

Development of non-literal language comprehension and pragmatic language development

Office Phone: +44 (0)1223 767734

Departments and Institutes

Faculty of Education:

Research Interests

My research interests lie in the interplay between linguistic and social development from childhood through to adolescence. I studied at University of Manchester where I gained a BSc (Hons) in Speech and Language Therapy, before going on to win ESRC/MRC funding to complete a Master of Research in Psychology followed by a PhD. After my PhD, I went on to do post-doctoral research in child and adolescent mental health in the Department of Developmental Psychiatry, University of Cambridge.

I held a lectureship in Developmental Language and Communication Disorders at the University of East Anglia for one year before coming to the University of Cambridge Faculty of Education as a University Lecturer in Psychology and Education in November 2014.

I am a qualified Speech and Language Therapist and, although I have focused my career mainly on research, I have maintained my clinical registration specialising in assessment and treatment of complex language disorders and autism spectrum conditions.

Current research projects: 

  • Evaluating playground peer interactions in the Preschool Autism Communication Trial Follow-Up 7-11 years (PACT 7-11)
  • Social cognition in children with pragmatic language impairments
  • Emotional vocabulary use in looked after children and young people
  • Outcomes of bullying, victimisation and friendships in childhood and adolescence


  • Language impairment
  • Autism

Key Publications

Gibson, J., Kelvin, R. and Goodyer, I. (2013). A call for greater transparency in health policy development. Observations from an analysis of Child and Adolescent Mental Health policy. Evidence and Policy Journal

Gibson, J., Adams, C., Lockton, E. and Green, J. (2013). Social communication disorder outside autism? A diagnostic classification approach to delineating pragmatic language impairment, high functioning autism and specific language impairment.Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry54, 1186-1197.

Gibson, J., Hussain, J., Holsgrove, S., Adams, C. and Green, J. (2011). Quantifying children’s playground peer interaction skills: Development of the Manchester Inventory for Playground Observation.      Research in Developmental Disabilities, 32(6), 2458-2466.