Department of Psychology

Supporting autistic adults in interviews

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

Project overview

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.

Budget: £279,555

Funder: Economic and Social Research Council

Project phases 

The project will run until February 2020.

Stage one: Experimental Stage

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

Phase 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.

Principal Investigator

Postdoctoral Research Associate

Academic collaborators



If you would like to find out more about this project then contact Dr Katie Maras.

We are recruiting both autistic adults and adults without autism (aged 18-65 years) to take part in this research. Participants are paid £8 per hour for their time, and we can reimburse reasonable travel expenses. Please contact Dr Jade Norris for further information by email or phone: 07391 268 102.

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