Department of Psychology

Support for adults with autism in interviews

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

Project overview

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is associated with social and cognitive difficulties. Those with ASD can find it hard to put forward their case in important real-life contexts, such as the Criminal Justice System (CJS), healthcare consultations and employment interviews.

ASD can make reporting information in a formal social interview difficult. In particular:

  • 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.

The aim of this project is to create guidance for professional groups so they can better support adults with ASD in interviews.

A supportive interviewing model will be developed for use across:

  • victim/suspect interviews in the CJS
  • employment interviews for job seekers
  • health and social care consultations with service users.

There will be two stages to the research.

  1. Characterising the social and cognitive strengths and difficulties that those with ASD experience in reporting episodic and personal autobiographical information under different conditions.
  2. Explaining how service providers can best interact with people with ASD to help access to services.

Budget: £279,555

Funder: Economic and Social Research Council

Principal Investigator

Academic collaborators


Project phases

The project will run from 31 August 2017 – 1 February 2020.

Phase one: Initial preparation and design

Initial preparation and design work will start for this project.

A postdoctoral research associate will be recruited to work on the project for 24 months from 1 October 2017.

Phase duration: 31 August 2017 – 1 December 2017.

Phase two: Characterising strengths and weaknesses in reporting in autism

Studies 1-3 will examine the strengths and weaknesses that people with autism have in reporting episodic and autobiographical information across a range of different conditions in the laboratory.

During this phase, a one-month visit to collaborate with Professor Neil Brewer in Australia will take place.

Phase duration: 1 December 2017 – 1 February 2019.

Phase three: Developing and testing a new interview model

This phase will be conducted in collaboration with CJS, healthcare and employment professionals to develop questioning protocols that support the difficulties experienced by people with autism whilst capitalising on their strengths.

Phase duration: 1 September 2018 – 1 November 2019.

Phase four: Final impact and public engagement activities

The phase includes 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.

Phase duration: 1 November 2019 – 1 February 2020.


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