Autism Awareness Month To mark Autism Awareness Month, we are sharing blogs based on recent research projects and papers carried out the Autism Research Centre (ARC), as well as two personal accounts of life with autism - all of which highlight different perspectives of this challenging and complex condition. The future of autism research and support We talk to Dr Meng-Chuan Lai about the contemporary definition of autism and the importance of a collaborative approach when designing autism-friendly interventions. We learn more about the joint aim to maximise the individual's potential, to minimise barriers, and to optimise the person-environment fit. Find out more The Unique Experiences of Autistic Mothers Until now, there has been relatively little research into the important and complex topic of autism and pregnancy, particularly the unique experiences of autistic mothers. However, during the past year, ARC researcher Sarah Hampton has conducted interviews with autistic and non-autistic mothers to see what has been going right and wrong. While the challenges faced are significant and can have serious consequences, it also important to recognise that with the right support autistic mothers can flourish and enjoy parenting with an insight like no other. Find out more Autism and the Criminal Justice System There have been a number of criminal cases in which the defendant is reported to have a diagnosis, or a suspected diagnosis, of autism. This research will pose questions such as 'when an autistic person is the defendant in a criminal case, does their autism affect how the court case is conducted and affect sentencing?' and hope the outcome will inform the public and judicial system to ensure policy recommendations for possible reasonable adjustments can be made for autistic defendants in order that lawyers, judges and the court system conduct fair trials. Find out more The COVID pandemic and autism Dr Meng-Chaun discusses the various experiences and reactions among autistic people and the families in the face of the life-altering pandemic. While the last year has shown unprecedented levels of stress and trauma for many families, COVID has also forced us as a nation to be imaginative and create different ways of learning, living and working - does this demonstrate what we should have been doing all along and how autistic people benefit from these new approaches? Find out more Dan's story - preparing the world Dan' describes his 7 year old son, Joshie, as 'the light of my life and also the hardest working boy in the UK!'. Additionally Joshie is severely autistic, and non-verbal - but while being on the Autistic Spectrum is far from easy, Dan says it is the lack of awareness within society that is the real challenge. Find out more Lisa's story - progress of the last 20 years Mother to 22-year old Robert who is autistic with moderate to severe learning difficulties, Lisa explains the importance of Autism Awareness Week while shining a light on their own family experiences. While there is still so much for be done for support and acceptance for people across the autism spectrum, Lisa remarks on the clear progress we have made over the past 20 years, which should be celebrated. Find out more Remember you can follow us on Twitter and Facebook, where these stories and more will be posted. To donate to the Autism Research Trust, please click here.