University of Bath

Supporting autistic adults in interviews

This project will create guidance for professional groups so they can better support those with autism.

A table with the hands of an interviewer and interviewee opposite each other
This research will help us understand what interviews are like for autistic adults

People with autism are often disadvantaged in employment, healthcare and police interviews because impairments in social and cognitive processes (such as memory and communication) can affect their ability to relay relevant and important information.

This project aims to elucidate the difficulties that autistic adults have in reporting information in these contexts, and to develop appropriate methods of interviewing to support them.

You can find out more about this study in our blog post.

Research funding

The research is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council.

Participant recruitment

We're currently recruiting both autistic adults and adults without autism to take part in this research.

Project team

Principal Investigator

Postdoctoral Research Associate

Academic collaborators

Supporters

Stage one: Experimental work

This stage will characterise not only the difficulties but also the strengths experienced by autistic people in reporting episodic and personal autobiographical information under different conditions in the laboratory.

Social and cognitive abilities particularly relevant in formal interview contexts will be the focus of this investigation. These include:

  • reporting memories of specific past events
  • gauging an appropriate level of detail to report, depending on the - context and the question
  • monitoring the accuracy of reported details
  • switching between different tasks
  • understanding the interviewer’s intentions

Stage two: Development of practical support

This stage of the project will create practical guidance for professional groups so they can better support adults with autism in interviews. Informed by findings from Stage one and developed in collaboration with end users, questioning protocols will be established that support the difficulties experienced by people with autism whilst capitalising on their strengths.

This supportive interviewing model will be developed for use across:

  • victim/suspect interviews in the criminal justice system
  • employment interviews for job seekers
  • health and social care consultations with service users

Impact and public engagement activities will include the production of policy brief, summary video (working with the Institute for Policy Research), and an e-learning package for end-users of the research, in collaboration with Professor Coral Dando.