Aim of the project

The aim of the of the two previous vulnerability projects was to increase knowledge and understanding of vulnerability in autism. The Vulnerability in Mental Health study conducted the first ever survey to measure rates of vulnerability experiences in autistic adults across different areas of life. Two versions of the survey were created, one for autistic adults and one for parents of autistic children. The Vulnerability Experiences Quotient (VEQ) included vulnerabilities at school (e.g., bullying, exclusion), at work (e.g., unemployment), in intimate relationships (e.g., domestic violence, sexual abuse), in friendships (e.g., financial exploitation), in the criminal justice system (e.g., arrest), in contact with social services (e.g., separation from children), and in mental health (e.g., suicide, self- harm). 426 autistic adults and 202 parents of autistic children took part, along with similar number of people without autism.


The National Pupil Database Study extended this work to analyse data from the National Pupil Database to examine vulnerability of children whose special educational needs (SEN) was recorded as autism in comparison to children with other SEN and no SEN. Alongside analysing data from the NPD, the ARC will carry out an additional survey study to look at transitions post 16 years old to find out about the impact of transitions out of the education system for autistic individuals and other special educational needs. In particular, the survey will focus on those who are currently not in education, employment or training (NEET) and will look at how these young people might be more vulnerable when NEET.


The results of these two studies will be translated into new policy guidelines and recommendations for interventions and safeguarding procedures across different contexts (in the community, services, educational settings, etc.,), to reduce the vulnerability of autistic individuals.

Importance of research

This research is important because it has the potential to reduce the risk of harm to autistic individuals. The findings will also empower autistic people to make positive changes in their lives that will serve to protect them.

Researchers involved

  • A researcher with experience in policy related research will be recruited to start in September 2019.

Key findings

This will be a one year study running until September 2020