Answering the questions from people with autism, their families and health professionals

Published: 03 January 2018

The charity Autistica completed its PSP looking at research priorities from all those who know and understand Autism in May 2016.  Since then, Autistica has set about funding researchers in the UK to help provide some answers to the questions that people who responded to the PSP thought were most important.

Dr James Cusack, Director of Science at Autistica said:

“We are proud to be funding so many of the top questions prioritised by autistic people and their allies.  Those that we are not currently funding are being discussed with other funders, or being explored at collaborative workshops with researchers and the community. We have reshaped our research strategy to reflect the outcomes of the JLA and will continue to consult and involve autistic people and families in all the research and campaigning that we do.”

The top priority from the PSP was Which interventions improve mental health or reduce mental health problems in autistic people? How should mental health interventions be adapted for the needs of autistic people?’

So far Autistica has funded four research projects in response to this number one priority:

Why are autistic people more vulnerable?

Treating anorexia in autistic women

Understanding suicide in autism

Anxiety and depression in autistic people who speak few or no words

In response to priority number two: language and communication, they have an open call on language and communication.  Researchers will need to apply by 19th January 2018.  

Their third priority, around support and social care for adults will be explored in a scoping report with the National Institute for Health Research’s School for Social Care.

Priority number four from the PSP was ‘Which interventions reduce anxiety in autistic people?’

These projects are addressing that question:

A personalised anxiety treatment for autistic adults

Coping with uncertainty

Priority number eight involved support in employment. In partnership with Deutsche Bank, Autistica created an autism internship programme, and commissioned UCL to qualitatively evaluate the scheme and publish a report of recommendations.  

Priority nine from the PSP was ‘How can sensory processing in autism be better understood?’  This project addresses that question and priority four too:

Sensory reactivity and anxiety

These two projects apply to priorities one, four, five and six (early parent-led intervention focussing on a variety of outcomes)

Incredible Years for autism

A family toolkit for everyday life with autism

Autistica’s research strategy for 2017-2021 makes it clear that they intend to maintain this high level of commitment to the autism community’s Top 10 priorities for research.  Each year they will announce a competitive call for research ideas on a theme based on one of the priorities.

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