A Middlesex University academic has won a national award for her work in improving care and support for neurodivergent pregnant women and maternity staff.
Midwife Emilie Edwards who is herself autistic and a Senior Lecturer in Midwifery, received the Excellence in Midwifery for Leadership award at the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) annual awards in London last week.
RCM Chief Executive, Gill Walton said: “Emilie’s leadership to demolish taboos around neurodiversity and raise awareness of these issues is incredible, and worthy of all our praise. Not only that, but her efforts are also actively changing things for the better for neurodivergent pregnant women and staff, locally and nationally. She is so deserving of this award and the recognition it brings and I congratulate her wholeheartedly.”
Committed to breaking down the barriers she faced, Emilie has used her own lived experience to improve the situation for the maternity staff following her, and to improve the experience and care for pregnant neurodivergent women. Emilie is also heavily involved in initiatives to support neurodivergent student midwives in universities across the country.
After receiving her award, Emilie said. "It is a privilege to be able to bring to the forefront the conversation about tackling workplace stigma and inaccessibility for neurodivergent students and midwives. As an autistic healthcare professional and lecturer, I am dedicated to raising my voice to improve accessibility for neurodivergent people and to find concrete and impactful ways to create a sustainable workplace environment. I am thankful to the wonderful team at Middlesex University, who through true allyship, have ensured I have a supportive and inclusive environment in which to thrive."
In an impressive list of achievements Emilie has been instrumental in developing guidance around neurodiversity that is used in NHS trusts across London and nationally. She also sits on several national and regional high-level committees around neurodiversity and will soon be starting a PhD focused on improving support for neurodivergent midwifery students.
Emilie also authored the RCM’s online learning module for midwives on neurodiversity in the workplace used by midwives cross the UK and internationally.
Last year Emilie won the Educator of the Year Award at the 2022 Nursing Times Awards when she was hailed a “huge advocate for neurodivergent issues”.
Along with midwife Nicolette Porter and student Sophie Rayner, Emilie produced research papers which made recommendations on how universities and NHS employers can help and better understand neurodivergent students and staff.