Last month we were delighted to host the Participatory Autism Research Symposium. This online event featured presentations from four individuals who are either autistic or autism allies.

Steven, an independent autism workplace consultant, mentor and educator, and chairman of the Lincolnshire Autistic Society spoke about the importance of including autistic people in research and service development, and gave an insight into his own experiences as an autistic individual accessing emergency care in the health service.

Alison is a non-autistic ally, a lecturer in SENDI at Bishop Grosseteste University, and a former teacher, advisory teacher, and SENCO. She provided a reflection on the current and conflicting thinking regarding autism as presented at the 13th Autism-Europe International Congress, held in Krakow.

Alison identified 4 key themes arising from the presentations:

  • Participation and methodology
  • Mental health and trauma
  • Co-occurring health conditions
  • Heterogeneity and authentic self

Susanna is a dyslexic, autistic, freelance educator. She used creative research methods to help her become ‘unstuck’ when she experienced difficulties in making a start on analysing the data from her MA dissertation study into the experiences of an autistic trainee teacher. Her creative processes included spending time immersed in nature observing migratory common swifts. She credits swifts for a catalogue for artworks which helped her to break through her complete academic block and helping her see a way forward.

Gemma, a parent and educator shared her experiences of dealing with the Education Health and Care Plan process from an education perspective, and also from a parent’s perspective. She stressed the importance of ensuring that supportive elements of primary school settings are maintained in a secondary school context, and that support is tailored toward the needs of student across both academic, emotional and social engagement. She also described the dangers of not recognising that autistic masking is taking place, which can lead to serious difficulties due to needs not being met when the student looks like they are “fine”.

The event highlighted the importance of involving autistic communities in matters that impact upon them, and touched on current thinking and research regarding autism. It also explored the role of creative processes in academic research, an area which is hoped to be further showcased at the next Participatory Autism Research Symposium, planned for Spring 2023.

For more information on Participatory Autism Research Symposia at BGU, check out the BGU Autism Resources and Support Hub (ARCH) webpages, or contact

The full video of the presentations can be viewed here

Saint Mary's Basilica, Krakow

Saint Mary's Basilica, Krakow

scrapbook image of swifts migrating

Scrapbook image of swifts migrating

13th December 2022

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