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The importance of Autistic people in Academia

Updated: Feb 1

The importance of having Autistic people in Academia, leading, creating and implementing new research has been the single most important factor for the Autistic Community in recent years.

By focusing on issues that Autistic people decide, they are able to prove the old theories on Autism wrong, while at the same time creating a new understanding of Autism.

This is also a victory for Autistic Rights and self determination. Any other cultural group is given the right to represent themselves, while for too many years Autistic people were deemed incapable of that.

For too long we have had others speak for us. Whilst their intentions may have been good, all too often the big charities would produce research on Autism with the goal of somehow 'fixing' us and making us more neurotypical. This was not research born from science but born out of stigma.

Now that Autistic people are doing our own research, we can focus on truly finding ways to support the Autistic Community, to live healthier and longer, happier lives.

Some examples:

Dr Damian Milton revolutionised how we understand communication by looking for the first time at how two Autistic people communicate, rather than just Autistic people with Neurotypicals.

The NHS Oliver McGowan Autism training is being led by Autistic people as experts by experience, in order to give NHS staff their first ever Autism training.

The National Autism Trainer Programme is being run by Anna Freud Centre and AT-Autism, involving Autistic people in training professionals in the NHS.

GRRAND at UCL is the Group for Research in Relationships and NeuroDiversity.

They are developing new approaches to services and patient care within the NHS in collaboration with Neurodivergent people and their families.


All of this change for the better stems from Autistic and Neurodivergent people in the academic world creating a much better understanding of Autism, which then enables better support for Autistic people to live healthier happier lives.

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