Researchers from our Centre for Applied Autism Research have been shortlisted for the National Autistic Society's prestigious Autism Professionals Awards, in the Most Impactful Researcher category.

Making a difference

The annual awards recognise people, services and schools across the UK who are making a difference to autistic people and their families. The winners will be announced at a special ceremony on 27 February at Birmingham Town Hall, following the first day of the National Autistic Society’s Professionals Conference.

The team were shortlisted by an independent panel of autism specialists, who were looking for high standards of innovation, creativity, impact and sustainability. By celebrating their achievements, the National Autistic Society hopes to increase public understanding of autism and inspire other people and organisations to make a difference too. There are 13 awards for individuals and organisations, covering education, health, social care, employment, and volunteering.

Working with the autistic community

Researchers from the Centre have co-developed a range of novel initiatives to ensure that findings make a positive impact for autistic people and the professionals who support them. These include behavioural interventions and supporting learning, the development of novel digital technologies, health service interventions, improving access to higher education and securing employment, and enabling access to justice in Criminal Justice System. Their research embraces participatory design, working with the autistic community.

There are around 700,000 autistic adults and children in the UK. Many autistic people need extra time to process information, like questions or instructions, feel intense anxiety in social or unexpected situations and find noise, and bright lights painful and distressing.

Every autistic person is different and will have their own strengths and challenges. Some autistic people might need 24-hour care; others may need clearer communication or a little longer to do things at school or work. Without the right support or understanding, autistic people can miss out on an education, struggle to find work and become extremely isolated.

Speaking about the award, Professor Mark Brosnan, Centre Director, said: "Our whole team are delighted to be shortlisted for this award. Our research is very much a group-effort and a central aspect of this is participatory research. We have learned so much working with the autistic community and are co-developing our future plans together."

Carol Povey, Director of the National Autistic Society’s Centre for Autism, said: “Our awards celebrate exceptional people, schools and services making a huge difference to autistic children and adults, and their families.

“All the finalists should be commended for impressing the judges and standing out among so many excellent nominations.

“We want to celebrate their achievements and share their stories, so we can promote innovative autism practice and inspire other people and organisations to help create a society that works for autistic people."