Aim of the project

The research aims to get a broad but detailed representation of types of vulnerability experienced by autistic children and adults. A key aim is to document vulnerabilities which may be risk factors for developing mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression.
The project involves the autistic community through consulting an advisory panel of autistic adults and parents of autistic children during the design of the research and interpretation of the results.

Importance of research

Around 70% of autistic adults meet the diagnostic criteria for anxiety or depression. Additionally our own research has shown that two thirds of autistic adults have thought about suicide and 35% have planned or attempted suicide.
Negative life experiences are an important risk factor for mental illness and suicide. Autistic people are more vulnerable to many negative life experiences such as unemployment, bullying, financial exploitation and involvement in abusive relationships, which all could have impact upon mental health.
Research into life experiences is needed to improve our understanding of the types of vulnerability faced by autistic individuals. This project seeks to identify and quantify the areas of vulnerability so that recommendations for tailored support can be made to policy makers.

Scientists involved

  • Sarah Griffiths
  • Gareth Richards

Key findings

Data from the project will be presented at the International Society for Autism Research conference in May 2018.

This project has been joint funded by ART and Autistica