About SWAN

Scottish Women’s Autism Network (SWAN) was established in August 2012 in partnership with Autism Network Scotland.

We meet for peer support and networking. We help each other by sharing our experiences and knowledge, having open discussions, women having the opportunity to meet like-minded women.

SWAN is a network of women each with a unique perspective, shaped by individual experiences and circumstances; we represent a range of views on all sorts of issues from diagnosis to gender, from ASC as a difference rather than a disorder, to life in general.

Responsibility for planning, administration, communicating with the wider group, other organisations and individuals who contact us has been taken on a voluntary basis by a small number of us over the years.  We also have an ever expanding wider network of women involved through our informal meet-ups, social events, Facebook Page, and so on.

Some of us are also involved in public awareness activities and presentation services; we are committed to promoting information exchange with practitioners and service providers.

Download SWAN Conditions of Engagement (pdf)

Download the SWAN Constitution (pdf)


Dr Catriona Stewart


Organisational Development Lead

Catriona co-founded SWAN in 2012 after a journey that took her from academic lecturer and clinical trainer, through her PhD thesis on girls with AS and anxiety, to mother of an autistic girl, to autistic mother.

Catriona’s PhD research was the driving force behind SWAN and the underpinning to her work with Scottish Autism developing their Right Click for Women and Girls online resource. She was an advisor and ‘expert’ to 3-year UK initiative, the National Autism Project, has presented at numerous national and international conferences, including 2 international conferences on women and gender studies, delivers training and consultation services.

Catriona currently works full-time for Scottish Autism as an advisor; one of her current work streams is a Scottish Government funded initiative delivered through Scottish Autism’s Right Click programme and SWAN in partnership. ‘Under Our Wing’ is a pilot one-year peer-mentoring training programme.

Bill Colley

Bill is an independent educational consultant, specialising in additional support needs (ASN).

He has been a member of the National Autism Strategy Reference Group since 2010 and also sits as an educational expert on UKAP (United Kingdom ADHD Partnership). He is an educational advisor to Mindroom and to the Perth & Kinross ADHD Support Group, and has worked as a Service Manager with responsibility for ASN at local authority level, as the Headteacher of an independent residential special school, and as Housemaster and Head of Department in one of Scotland’s largest boarding schools.

Bill holds post-graduate qualifications in Asperger’s syndrome and in Social, Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties, and has acted as an expert witness/advocate in cases involving school exclusion, ADHD, and autism spectrum disorders. He has been trained in administering the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS), the Autism Diagnostic Interview (Revised), and the Development & Wellbeing Assessment (DAWBA).

He has a particular interest in complex diagnoses, in the challenge of identifying autism in women and girls, and issues surrounding gender identity. He is also keen to develop further his understanding of the impact of autism on family dynamics and in particular the parent-child dyad.

Professor Carron Shankland

Carron Shankland


I’ve been involved with SWAN since 2016. As a late-diagnosed autistic woman it was really important to connect with a peer community. SWAN helped hugely in those early years to explore what it meant to be autistic for me. I joined the board because I valued that support and wanted to give back to our community. I’m out as autistic, as a lesbian, and I’m open about mental health challenges (I have personal experience of depression and speak about this to higher education audiences). At home, I play classical chamber music, and snip things back into order in the garden and enjoy cooking.

My day job is as professor of Computing Science at the University of Stirling. My research is about understanding the behaviour of biological systems through mathematical and computational models. For example, our recent work considers vaccination and disease: how do different vaccination strategies provide more or less protection for the population? I’m passionate about giving back to that community too. Lack of diversity in science, especially in computing, is a real problem: we cannot create technology that works for everyone if we do not have diverse teams. I founded a national network to share good practice on diversity and inclusion, and help to promote computing to women and girls. In 2016 I was one of twelve women in Computing and Mathematics in the UK to receive a Suffrage Science Award, recognising both scientific achievement and ability to inspire others.

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