Head Research Practitioner


Division: Occupational Therapy & Arts Therapies

Tel: 0131 474 0000

Marion Rutherford (Bsc (Hons), PGcert, PGDip) is a Head Research Practitioner in the Firefly Research Unit in the Occupational Therapy & Arts Therapies Division. She is also a full member of the Centre for Applied Social Sciences.

Marion Rutherford is an experienced Speech and Language Therapist, educator and researcher. She has worked in clinical practice with children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) and their families for over 20 years, and her research has developed new supports and insights related to children with a range of disabilities, particularly individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Since 2009, Marion has maintained a clinical role whilst working as a Head Research Practitioner at QMU.  She has focused on research with children with disabilities, including children with  Autism Spectrum Disorder  throughout.  She is currently advancing a PhD in Health Sciences and was a Member of the SIGN Autism Guideline Development Group (2016).

Affiliations/Memberships to Other Organisations:

  • Member of the Royal College of Speech & Language Therapists (MRCSLT) (1992-present)
  • Registered with the Healthcare Professions Council (HCPC) (2003-present)

Professional Social Media:

Research/Knowledge Exchange Centre Membership:

Ms Rutherford has used qualitative and quantitative methods to support development of new knowledge and evidence based change in clinical practice. As a researcher she has engaged in productive partnerships with practitioners in health and education, and a range of medical and non-medical health researchers nationally and internationally.

Active Research Interests:

  • Current research is focused on the development of evidence for clinical practice which has an impact on adults and children with ASD. Research also includes the Model of Human Occupation and approaches to support children with disabilities within home and school settings.

Research Methods:

  • Meta-Analysis, Systematic Review, Development of interventions/assessments, Realist Synthesis

Research Grants & Contracts Funding:

Scottish Government grant for the Autism ACHIEVE Alliance (2011-2013)


  • Member of SIGN Autism guideline development group for SIGN 145 2014-2016
  • Member of Scottish ADOS Consortium (2007 to present)
  • Clinical Lead for development and implementation of the Lothian children’s pathway for diagnosis and assessment of autism (2014 to present)
  • Edinburgh Autism Plan Strategy Group member (2014-2016)