We defined 3 different levels of community engagement: 1. Public dissemination: which could include newsletters summarising research findings, online blogs or public events. 2. Dialogue: which might comprise direct communication or consultation between researchers and research participants often as part of research being conducted.
this view. All groups of respondents agreed, however, that active research partnership was a rare occurrence. In terms of satisfaction with the engagement they had experienced, the responses varied greatly across all four stakeholder groups, with researchers most commonly reporting ‘dissatisfaction’ with the level of engagement, and non-researchers most commonly endorsing ‘neither satisfied nor dissatisfied’. When open-ended responses were analysed from the survey, focus groups and interviews, three main themes emerged, which were common to all non-researchers (autistic people, family members and practitioners). The first of these was attitudes. All three stakeholder groups stressed the importance of researcher attitudes to their level of satisfaction with engagement and related largely positive experiences of interacting with researchers. “Those [researchers] I have come into contact with have had a genuine interest and concern for people with autism.” Mother of young person with autism
3. Partnership: which includes joint working between researchers and participants, family members and practitioners, where research is carried out ‘with’ or ‘by’ community members rather than ‘to’, ‘about’ or ‘for’ them.25
“Some of the researchers have been informative and collaborative. Others have no interest in what practitioners need or have to share.” Experienced autism practitioner The second theme was lack of reciprocity. Non-researchers commonly spoke of the frustration caused by researchers who make little or no contact following their participation. “I don’t think many researchers feel they can talk to autistic people as if they matter; they’re too busy studying them like specimens or looking for a ‘cure’.” Early career autism practitioner “Researchers are more keen on collecting data, but not providing results.” Autistic woman “I would like more details of the results of research, particularly when I have given time and effort to helping with it.” Mother of child with autism “It feels like researchers are working in their own world, with little direct engagement with us,