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Case study: Autism@Manchester

Autism@Manchester is a community of academics, clinicians, practitioners, autistic adults, parents of autistic children and family members working together to achieve quality research with real meaning for people with autism.

Autism@Manchester was founded in 2014 and is currently chaired by Dr Emma Gowen.

Why is it important to connect the autism and research communities?

Increasingly aware of the concerns of the autistic community that researchers were not working on issues important to them, Autism@Manchester academics wanted to create an environment that encourages communication and collaboration between researchers and the community.

As autism affects so many different aspects of life, this approach is particularly important because researchers need to work both across disciplines and with the autistic community to produce effective research with real meaning and impact for autistic people.

"From my own point of view, I do feel that research should not simply be undertaken from the perspective of experts who have some kind of vaulted higher position from which they can examine the rest of the world."

Autistic adult / Member of the autism community

What does Autism@Manchester do?

Our key aims are to bring academics, clinicians and other practitioners together with members of the autistic community to:

  • share knowledge and understanding around autism research;
  • collaborate on the selection, design and conduct of research.

Our ultimate goal is to enable researchers to produce quality research with real meaning for autistic people.

To accomplish this goal, we have developed a number of initiatives based on consultation with the autism community. These include the circulation of newsletters, an 'Expert by Experience' advisory group, organising workshops and inviting speakers on the topic of autism, and the development of educational resources.

In line with our aims, these activities and resources are organised and facilitated by both researchers and members of the autistic community. To find out more about these projects and resources please visit our website.


Autism@Manchester meeting

What are the benefits?

Linking up with Autism@Manchester has a number of benefits.

For the autism community:

  • opportunities to input into all stages of research;
  • easier identification of ways to get involved in research;
  • connections to research news and events;
  • increased understanding of the practical benefits of research.

"I enjoyed being involved in the production of a set of guidelines for opticians working with autistic patients. I felt I was making a difference for the real-life struggles of autistic people, and my wish is that it relieves the stress in that type of situation. I was also happy to help the opticians themselves to run successful sessions with all their clients. It is my hope that these guidelines will be revised based on actual experiences."

James Pelham / Autistic adult

For researchers:

  • strengthening your grant impact case;
  • improved research design;
  • wider dissemination and publicity of your research to the autism, research and clinical communities;
  • increased participation in your research;
  • identification of translational opportunities.

Dr Emma Gowen

"Since forming Autism@Manchester, my understanding of autism research outside my field has increased and I have a much deeper appreciation of what is important to the autism community. This has strengthened my own research and enabled me to see where it fits into the bigger picture of autism."

Dr Emma Gowen / Chair, Autism@Manchester

How to get involved

Please contact Dr Emma Gowen for more information.