Research Autism: Research Projects Underway

This section of our website contains information about some of our current research projects.

All research undertaken by Research Autism has been identified as likely to have a positive impact on the quality of life of people with autism and their families.


Hooode man at computerDescription:

Cybercrime is defined as crimes committed through the use of information communication technology.

There is a growing perception among law enforcement agencies that a significant number of those being arrested in connection with cybercrime may be on the autism spectrum. This is an area that has received much attention in the media but little in the way of systematic research.

Research Autism is seeking to undertake a research project to explore the profiles of cyber offenders and their pathways into such offending.


- Identifying whether or not an autism spectrum condition makes for a greater vulnerability to cyber offending

- Raising awareness of autism and cyber offending in law enforcement agencies

- Understanding the pathways into cyber offending to aid prevention

- Developing strategies for raising awareness of risk factors and better prevention of cybercrime by individuals on the autism spectrum

More information: Cybercrime project

Cygnet Project: Mentoring Scheme for Young People with Autism Spectrum Conditions

Woman with an adolescent on the autism spectrumDescription: This project was identified as a priority by adults with autism. The Cygnet project is a specialised mentoring (life coaching) scheme for young people with autism.

The project has been designed by a group of adults with Asperger syndrome and high functioning autism facilitated by Research Autism. It is proposed to establish and evaluate the impact of such a scheme.

Impact: Working with the London South Bank University, this project is designed to provide

- reduction in social isolation, stress and anxiety for participating individuals

- achievement of personal goals for participating individuals

More information:  Cygnet Project

Employment Toolkit

Young man with autismDescription: Developing an online job-to-person matching and reasonable adjustment toolkit for employees with autism.

This project will use findings and feedback provided by employers and employees with autism to hone a toolkit, and design a cost-effective online platform to facilitate enhanced job matching and retention.

Impact: This toolkit will be designed to enable:

- the assessment of individual profiles of people with autism in terms of cognitive profiles, vocational preferences and employability skills sets

- enhanced matching of individuals to jobs

- the provision of person-centred guidance for employers to aid the process of making adjustments

The effectiveness of the toolkit will also be fully evaluated as part of this project which is being run with the University of Portsmouth.

Quality of Life Measure

Young woman with autismDescription: Ensuring a Quality of Life Measure for adults on the autism spectrum is appropriate and valid.

This project is being undertaken by the Autism Research team at Newcastle University. With the input of people in the autism community, they are exploring the international standard World Health Organisation Quality of Life tool, WHOQOL-BREF, and additional Disabilities module, with permission from the WHOQOL group in Geneva. Rather than develop a new, stand-alone tool, they are investigating the usefulness and acceptability of the WHOQOL items and whether there are issues to address in an add-on autism-specific set of items.

Impact: The new proposed items will be freely available. The validation study of the WHOQOL-BREF has the potential to ensure that services aimed at adults on the autism spectrum are effective in terms of outcome and cost.

The Royal College of General Practitioners Autism Clinical Priority Project: Overcoming Barriers and Achieving Access to GPs


Each year the RCGP adopts three 'clinical priorities' in order to raise the profile and awareness of a particular condition among the GP population. The Clinical Champion for Autism is Dr Carole Buckley, a GP with a clinical practice in Bristol and mother of a son on the autism spectrum. Dr Buckley, together with a wide range of partners including people on the autism spectrum, parents and carers, professionals in the field, and the national charities Research Autism and the National Autistic Society, will lead on the delivery of a programme of activity that achieve the aims of the priority.

Likely impact

Over the course of the three years of the programme, the project aims to:

  • raise awareness and promote earlier diagnosis of autism
  • ensure that education and training is compulsory for anyone supporting people on the autism spectrum and their families and carers
  • improve access to health care for people on the autism spectrum
  • improve outcomes for people on the autism spectrum and their families and carers
  • encourage primary care to take part in evidence based research in autism
  • support Clinical Commissioning Groups in making change happen
  • make the lives of people on the autism spectrum and their families better

More information:RCGP Project

Uncertain Futures

Carer and adult with autismProject Area: Adults in later life

Description: Anxiety related to uncertainty about the future is a very real and significant concern for many individuals on the autism spectrum and their families. Many parents and carers will have increased concerns about what the future will hold for the individual on the autism spectrum they support or care for, once they die or are no longer able to provide the level of support previously given.

Difficulty tolerating uncertainty about the future has been identified as a major contributor to the development and maintenance of anxiety disorders. Previous research has found that many family members of adults on the autism spectrum experience mental health difficulties and individuals on the autism spectrum are also more likely to experience difficulties with anxiety.

Impact: This research may help us to find out how we may be able to provide appropriate support to increase wellbeing in individuals on the autism spectrum and their carers.

More information: Uncertain Futures

Widening Reach

Choosing Autism Interventions: A Research-Based GuideDescription: Widening the reach and impact of our information service

Research Autism has a firm commitment to ensuring that our independent and impartial information about autism treatments and therapies reaches those who need it the most, particularly disadvantaged communities. We therefore continue to seek ways in which to make our information more accessible particularly, though not exclusively, by utilising new and available technologies.

Impact: Improved awarenss of autism, the issues facing poeple on the autism spectrum and evidence-based interventions designed to help improve the quality of life for people on the autism spectrum.

More information:Widening Reach 

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16 Feb 2017