On Wednesday 1 November, HRH The Countess of Wessex visited the University’s Centre for Applied Autism Research (CAAR) to see first-hand how a range of innovative projects are making a difference to people living with autism and those around them.

The Countess, who is Patron of the National Autistic Society, was greeted by the University’s President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell, Head of the Department of Psychology Professor Greg Maio and CAAR Director, Professor Mark Brosnan.

With nearly 700,000 people in the UK living with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), the Centre at Bath was established in 2016 with the hope of better understanding the condition and applying world-leading research to improve support available.

Learning about the work of CAAR

During her visit, The Countess learnt more about current research projects the team are involved in. These include projects looking at supporting children with autism through digital technologies, improving training for police to adapt to autism and adjusting interviewing techniques to better help autistic people secure employment.

As part of the day The Countess officially launched a new programme 'the Bath Employment Spring School for Autism', run in conjunction with JP Morgan Chase. This builds on a successful programme in the US and from early 2018 will see a first cohort of autistic students and recent graduates receive training in job hunting and interview skills, as well as on-the-job experience at JP Morgan Chase’s offices in Bournemouth.

Launching our new MOOC

She also officially launched a new online course, a MOOC - ‘SMART-ASD: Matching Autistic People with Technology Resources’. The completely free course, which starts this week and takes four-weeks to complete, is led by the CAAR and aims to better support parents and carers of children with autism.

During her visit she met members of the autistic community based locally, including children from Bath-based Margaret Coates Centre – a specialist school for primary aged children – as well as members of local community organisation ‘Autistic Eye’.

Commenting on the visit, Professor Brosnan said: “We were delighted to welcome Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex to the Centre for Applied Autism Research here at the University of Bath. As someone who takes a keen interest in this topic as Patron of the National Autistic Society, we were able to share with her how latest research is making a difference and the innovative ways in which we’re working with the autistic community to raise awareness and appreciation of a condition affecting significant numbers of people.”

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