Autism Catalyst is a RITA project built on the insight that research funding had failed to focus on the concerns and needs of the autism community. This event would be the ‘catalyst’ to contribute towards changing this.
Led by Professor Fiona Hallett, and funded through Edge Hill’s PGMI interdisciplinary funding, the first stage of the Autism Catalyst project saw practitioners, educators and parents of children with autism gather at Edge Hill for a chance to influence future research. This included a genuinely interdisciplinary group from Edge Hill, with colleagues from all three faculties involved, from Computing to Clinical Research, reflecting expertise in relevant fields including education, psychology and technologically enhanced ‘smart spaces’.
The event was facilitated by NHS Research and Development, Northwest, who worked with animators from More than Minutes to create a unique record of the discussions, which could be shared with those unable to attend.
A facebook group was set up to enable the group to keep in touch, and contacts and support information was shared. The next step will be taking forward these insights working in small teams, having identified two broad themes from the day:
- Societal attitudes
“…there are things that run through all of it really, things like there’s no clarity if you’ve got a child with autism or if you’re an adult with autism, there’s no clear pathway…”
These groups will now develop collaborative research projects that reflect the interests of the autism community, and bring together diverse specialisms and interests from across Edge Hill and beyond, to make an impact in autism research. As part of this they plan to put together research funding proposals and ultimately, publications.