Centre for Applied Autism Research

Research themes

Social, cognitive and interoceptive processes

The Centre for Applied Autism Research (CAAR) leads in developing and integrating novel cognitive and neuroscientific methodologies to improve the understanding of autism. A specific focus of our research falls within social cognition (including both cognition and emotion, which includes anxiety) and relating processing of the self to the processing of others. Interoception refers to the sensing of internal bodily changes and is an important keystone in subjective accounts of one’s internal experiences. Many of the defining characteristics of autism can be conceptualised in terms of atypical interoception and we are working to develop a theoretical perspective relating atypical interoception to autism.

Developing practical applications

This theme includes both clinical and educational interventions. Our experience here includes developing interventions to address high levels of anxiety within autism as well as supporting maths learning and reducing what is often referred to as ‘challenging behaviour’ in autism. These latter two interventions are technology-based, and digital interventions are a theme within this stream. CAAR incorporates the development and implementation procedures and guidelines for evidenced-based practice to improve consistency and fidelity of interventions.

Inclusive communities

This theme includes transitions into school, university, employment, as well as clinical, health, social services and the criminal justice system. Our experience here includes the Autism Summer School for people with Autism considering going to university and the development of interview protocols for the police and legal professionals when they are interviewing people with Autism.

CAAR liaises with health-related professionals (adult and child) supporting efficient transition in and out of appropriate service provision. This can best be achieved working with the autistic and autism communities. Our centre provides a forum through which the autistic and autism communities can contribute to the development of research evaluating service provision.