CRAE Annual Report Oct 2017 - Sept 2018

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CRAE ANNUAL REPORT Oct 2017 - Sept 2018

CRAE ANNUAL REPORT Oct 2017 Sept 2018



Message from the Director CRAE CRAE Members Oct 2017 - Sept 2018

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Research - Employment Experiences of Autistic Graduates - Know Your Normal - Access to Justice - Attention and Perception - Robots, Artificial Intelligence and Autism

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Engagement - Communications - Media - Events - School Partnerships



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Appendix 1: CRAE Research Projects: Funding & Awards (Oct 2017 - Sept 2018) Appendix 2: CRAE publications & Reports (Oct 2017 - Sept 2018) Appendix 3: CRAE Conference Presentations (Oct 2017 - Sept 2018)


Message from the Director The past year has been one of change for CRAE. In October 2017, Professor Liz Pellicano, CRAE Director since 2012, left the UK to take up a prestigious new role as Professor of Autism Education at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. Liz is an outstanding autism researcher who conducts exceptional scientific research with sensitivity and respect for all those involved in it, or those who stand to benefit from it. Liz shaped CRAE in that image: an emphasis on cutting-edge research, but with equal importance given to conducting that research in collaboration with autistic people and their families, and translating the findings into immediate, practical and positive impact on people’s lives. Although we will miss Liz terribly, we are thrilled that she remains a key collaborator on the many CRAE projects. Following Liz’s departure, I was honoured to be appointed as her successor. Having worked closely with Liz over the past five years I look forward to building on her excellent legacy and taking the Centre forwards into its next phase. In particular, I am committed to developing our participatory research agenda even further: working with autistic scholars, advocates and community members at all levels within our projects. We will also be expanding the range of training courses we offer, hoping to provide more options for those who would like to learn more about autism research and practice. All this will be underpinned by a new emphasis on lifelong learning – driven by the lack of support or employment opportunities that is often seen after autistic young people leave formal education. 4

At my side I am thrilled to have Dr Laura Crane who became CRAE Deputy Director in November 2017. Laura’s research has already made important contributions to our understanding of autistic people’s memory, eye-witness testimony, and experiences of healthcare, diagnosis and education. In addition, Laura is one of the pioneers of participatory autism research and has won a number of awards for her work in this area. Our first year at the helm has been a busy one – filled with award-winning CRAE research, new events and exciting initiatives! In this Annual Report you can read about some of these projects and get a taste of what has been keeping us busy over the past 12 months – we hope you enjoy it. As a new academic year begins, we look forward to continuing this work in collaboration with our wonderful partners. We are hugely grateful for the ongoing support of The Pears Foundation, Ambitious about Autism, Autistica, our colleagues and friends both within and beyond the Institute of Education, and of course the many participants and collaborators who contribute to our research: all the autistic and non-autistic young people and adults, their family members, and the professionals that work with them. We are aware of how much still needs to be done, but optimistic that together we can make a difference. We look forward to having you with us to share the next stage of our journey.

I am looking forward to taking the Centre forward in exciting new ways...

A bit more about our new Director... Anna joined CRAE in 2013 and her research looks at whether autistic people see, hear and feel things in a different way from others. She is particularly fascinated by the idea of autism as a condition that has advantages, as well as challenges. She investigates how these superiorities develop, and ways in which autistic people might capitalise on these strengths. Among others, her current research projects include working with autistic people in the family justice system, investigating autistic people’s greater capacity to detect sound and ways to promote autistic employment. Anna is also co-founder and Director of MiniManuscript. com – a free, openly editable online database of academic article summaries. You can read a Q&A with Anna and find out more about her research here: ioe/people/academics/qa-anna-remington


CRAE At the Centre for Research in Autism and Education (CRAE), within the Department of Psychology and Human Development (PHD), UCL Institute of Education, our mission is to help enhance the lives of autistic people and their families.

First and foremost, we aim to conduct ground-breaking scientific research to enhance our knowledge about support, education and outcomes for autistic people, their families and those who support them. This research aims to be collaborative in nature; doing research with autistic people, rather than on or about them.

Second, we work to ensure that this evidence-based knowledge is translated so that it can have meaningful impact and make a real difference to people’s everyday lives.

Third, we are committed to actively engage with autistic people and their allies (e.g., families, teachers, clinicians), as well as policy-makers and the wider public, to promote awareness - and acceptance - of autism. We strive to achieve this through collaborative research practice, sharing of knowledge and hosting an active programme of free public engagement events.

CRAE was established in 2009, with the help of generous donations from The Clothworkers’ Foundation and the Kirby Laing Foundation. CRAE receives continued support from the Pears Foundation, Ambitious about Autism, UCL Institute of Education and alumni of the Institute. We are indebted to our funders and supporters, plus all of the fabulous children, young people, adults, families, practitioners, and school staff who so generously give up their time to work with us.



CRAE members Oct 2017 - Sept 2018


Anna Remington Director and Senior Lecturer.

Laura Crane Deputy Director and Senior Lecturer.

Melissa Bovis Research Communications and Engagement Officer.

Alyssa Alcorn Post-doctoral Researcher on the DE-ENIGMA project.

Eloise Ainger Research Assistant on the DE-ENIGMA.

Alria Williams Research Assistant on the DEENIGMA project.

Lorcan Kenny PhD student investigating executive function in autism.

Ellie Buckley PhD student exploring autism in the performing arts with RADA.

Jana Brinkert PhD student investigating perceptual and working memory capacity of autistic and non-autistic people. Clare Truman Part-time PhD student exploring pathological demand avoidance (PDA) and auitsm.

Rachel Prosser Undergraduate third-year placement student from the University of Bath. Demi Eades Undergraduate third-year placement student from the University of Kent.

Liz Pellicano Key collaborator and former CRAE Director (now at Macquarie University, Australia).

Joe Barker Research assistant working on the Deutsche Bank project (Nov 2017-Apr 2018).

Ali Northcott Artist-in-Residence exploring links between neurodiversity and creativity.

Tyrel Oshinowo Work experience student. Siena Castellon Work experience student.

Jeff Edelstein Summer placement student from the University of Michigan Ann Arbour (USA). 9



Employment Experiences of Autistic Graduates Know Your Normal Access to Justice Attention and Perception Robots, Artificial Intelligence and Autism

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Employment experiences of autistic graduates:

Figures released by the National Autistic Society highlight that only 32% of autistic adults are currently in some kind of paid work (full-time or part-time), compared to 47% of other disability groups. In September 2017, the global banking and financial services company, Deutsche Bank,

funded by UK charity Autistica, launched a unique Internship programme aimed specifically at autistic graduates to address the autism employment gap. The programme marked a huge step forward in improving employment opportunities for people on the autism spectrum.

Sometimes you just need someone to take a chance on you

an internship at Deutsche Bank UK

The scheme follows a successful programme piloted last year with eight interns, where CRAE’s Anna Remington and former CRAE Director, Liz Pellicano, worked to conduct research evaluating the programme, gathering the experiences of all involved. This culminated in a report on how to promote autistic employment (and to overcome a lack information on how best to do this), as well as providing evidence in favour of such a scheme and recommendations for improvement.

The work has been championed as a beacon of good practice. The third round of the internship ran successfully in summer 2018, and the Autistica-funded research (led by Anna Remington) has continued throughout. We look forward to reporting subsequently on the latest findings from the project. Read more:


Know Your Normal research was co-led by a group of young autistic people from the charity, Georgia Harper, Fern Adams and Jack Welch, and researchers from CRAE, Laura Crane and Liz Pellicano. The aim was to find out about the mental health experiences of young autistic people and to make recommendations on how best to meet their needs.

One in six adults has a common mental health condition and a fifth of adults have thought of taking their own life at some point. Young people are a particularly vulnerable group, given that most mental health conditions develop between childhood and adulthood and may be at their peak between the ages of 16-25 years. But what about mental health in young autistic people? In June 2017, new research - ‘Know Your Normal’ - was launched, which explored the mental health experiences of young autistic people (1625 years) across England. Commissioned by UK charity (and founding partner of CRAE) Ambitious about Autism, the 14

The team worked in equal partnership throughout the project life-cycle on research design, data collection, interpretation of results, and dissemination of findings. The young people used these research findings in the development of a toolkit to help autistic individuals monitor their own mental health. They further created an animation designed to bust myths around mental health and autism, and a series of resources to share their experiences and encourage others to work in this way. You can freely access the report and published research paper:

The annual UCL Provost’s Public Engagement Awards is hosted by the UCL Public Engagement Unit (PEU) and UCL Provost, Michael Arthur. The Awards recognise the work of UCL staff, students, and their community partners, to open up the university’s research and teaching to the wider world. In early June 2018, CRAE was thrilled to announce that the ‘Know Your Normal’ research project team won the Team Award category following a nomination from CRAE’s Director, Anna Remington. The team have also worked to promote the research findings on a global scale, producing blogs and videos about the research and their experience of working together and coproducing the research, providing practical tips to encourage others to work in this way.

The team’s Laura Crane and Georgia Harper attended the ceremony to receive the award (shaped to mark the 10-year anniversary of the UCL PEU) from Michael Arthur. The Know Your Normal team has been widely praised for the enormously important, highquality work and exemplary example of best practice in participatory research.

They have further presented this work at national and international conferences and non-academic events; notably Laura Crane gave a keynote talk for Princess Marie of Denmark at the 2017 Meeting of Minds conference in Copenhagen, Jack Welch was invited to meet HRH Duke and Duchess of Cambridge for his mental health campaigning and both Jack and Laura hosted a workshop together as part of the 2018 UCL Festival of Culture (more on pg 29).


Access to Justice Access to justice is a key issue for many sectors of society, but can be particularly problematic for those with communication difficulties. This makes us think that autistic people may be at risk of encountering difficulties in the justice system. There is a growing body of research on how to support autistic people in the criminal justice system. For example, CRAE’s Laura Crane has been working on a large research study, which aims to determine how best to support child witnesses on the autism spectrum through all different stages of the criminal justice system (e.g., during initial contact with a police officer, when taking part in a full investigative interview, when identifying perpetrators in a line-up, when being cross-examined by barristers in court and when having testimony evaluated by members of a jury). While this has led to some autism-specific guidance on navigating the criminal justice system, there is little about the broader justice system beyond the criminal setting (for example the family courts). The family court is important, since family court disputes are more emotionally fraught than many other areas of the law, and also (since the reduction in the scope of legal aid in 2012) more prone to people being in court without legal representation. 16

CRAE’s latest project aims to help with this by looking at the experiences of autistic people who have been involved with the family court, and the experiences of the legal professionals who have worked with them. As part of this project, CRAE’s Anna Remington and Laura Crane, together with Dr Rob George in UCL Laws, conducted an online survey and in-depth follow-up interviews with legal professionals working in the family court. They found that legal professionals reported good knowledge of autism but low confidence in working with autistic individuals, along with an absence of training. The paper reporting on these data includes discussions of particular legal cases and concludes by making a series of recommendations for legal professionals to enhance access to the family justice system for autistic individuals. Read the publication via: We hope that by understanding people’s experiences, we can produce recommendations for adjustments that can be made to improve the family court process for autistic people and their families. To that end, over the past 12 months, Anna and Rob have run a series of autism training sessions for family justice system professionals (i.e., judges, lawyers, social workers) across the UK. A further programme of events and initiatives is scheduled for the coming year. Watch this space!


Attention And Perception


CRAE’s Anna Remington is well-known for her groundbreaking work on attention and perception in autism. In 2018, she published research highlighting that autistic people can take in more sounds at any given moment compared to non-autistic people. In her latest research, using two behavioural experiments, Anna and her colleagues examined whether an increased capacity for processing sounds could underlie both difficulties and enhanced hearing abilities that are found in autism. The study found autistic people were better at detecting a target sound, hidden amongst other sounds, and noticed irrelevant background information more often when listening to a conversation. Anna suggests that the reason behind this is that autistic people have a higher perceptual capacity, which means that they are able to process more information at once. Having this extra processing space would be useful in some situations, but problematic in others. Understanding that differences in autistic attention might be due to this extra capacity, rather than an inability to filter out irrelevant information, can change the way

we understand autism and how we might intervene to help those who are struggling. The findings suggest that to reduce unwanted distraction, autistic people may need to fill their extra capacity with information that won’t interfere with the task at hand. For example, it might be helpful to listen to music while reading. While we must not downplay the challenges associated with autism, the study raises awareness of a more positive side to the condition. By promoting evidence of autistic strengths, we embrace diversity and undermine the traditional view that autism is only associated with deficits. Anna published findings from this research in the scientific journal Cognition: Further, her research has received wide national media coverage; Anna wrote an article for The Conversation (People with Autism can Hear More than Most – which can be a Strength and a Challenge’: http:// and the findings were also picked up by mainstream media, print (e.g., The Independent, Daily Mail,) and broadcast (London Live News).


Robots, Artificial Intelligence and Autism The DE-ENIGMA Horizon 2020 project is a large, EU-funded project investigating the potential of humanoid robots as tools in autism education. It runs from 2016-2019. This project brings together the UCL Institute of Education and partner institutions across Europe, representing both technical and autism-focused expertise. The consortium includes CRAE’s Dr Alyssa M. Alcorn, Eloise Ainger, Alria Williams and former CRAE Director, Professor Liz Pellicano, who is the Co-Investigator of the project. Over 20 students have also been part of the UCL DE-ENIGMA team in 2017 and 2018, gaining first-hand research experience in the laboratory and in schools. One strand of the DE-ENIGMA project has focused on understanding current autism education, and making cross-cultural comparisons between the UK and Serbia, with partner organisation, the Serbian Society for Autism (SSA). This has


involved classroom observations of childadult interaction, and over 40 in-depth interviews with educational professionals about their social skills teaching and views on educational technology. The more technical strand of the DE-ENIGMA project has been developing custom artificial intelligence (AI) for commercial robot hardware (Zeno, manufactured by US-based RoboKind), through cycles of development and testing with autistic children. Ultimately it is working toward developing a robot that can be an adaptive tool, reasoning about a child’s expressions, gestures, and verbalisations in real time. Both strands of the project come together to explore the feasibility of robotassisted teaching as a part of autism education, particularly for children whose social, daily life, or language skills may present barriers to participation in more “traditional” programmes. We look forward to reporting the results in 2019. The DE-ENIGMA project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 688835.




Communications Media Events School Partnerships

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Communications Sharing our research CRAE’s active communication strategy seeks to boost online presence and engagement through different digital platforms. Increasing the accessibility of our research and enhancing social media reach helps to widen impact and expand the profile of the Centre. Most importantly, it means we can share our work with the autistic and broader autism communities with whom we work and seek to serve. Some highlights include: CRAE’s Twitter followers (@CRAE_IOE) have almost doubled in less than two years, to over 6.5K.

CRAE’s Facebook Page has also seen similar growth, with Page ‘Likes’ doubling in the same period and an average organic reach of up to 1K engagements per news post.

The CRAE website ( has maintained steady growth with 6,000 visitors/year of which 82.4% are organic users and 17.6% are returning visitors.


CRAE share our filmed public talks online via our YouTube channel and our research members have produced short films to share their autism research accessibly (~50 uploads to date).

Each year CRAE launch their annual Xmas Card Design Competition and 2017 marked the fifth year of the competition. We received over 200 entries from 14 different autism schools across the UK. The winning design is shared with over 750 of our colleagues, collaborators, friends, families and, most importantly, all our participants and those with whom we work, across the world.

CRAE and its team members are consecutively listed as one of the Top Ten Influencers on Twitter (via Symplur) from international conferences they attend. By live tweeting from events we help to reach millions more people worldwide with the latest autism research and news.


Media Are You Autistic? During World Autism Awareness Week 2018, the Channel 4 TV show, ‘Are you Autistic?’, aired to the nation. Fronted by two young autistic women, Ambitious about Autism Youth Patrons - Georgia Harper and Sam Ahern - the hour-long programme aimed to bust myths and uncover the true face of autism in the UK today by following the journey of two adults seeking a diagnosis later in life; Jo and JP. Voiced and shaped by autistic people, highlighting their lived experience and personal insights, the show’s tone was refreshingly positive, with a strong focus on autistic women and ethnic minorities, who are often underrepresented in mainstream media and autism research. Dispelling ‘binary stereotypes’ of autism, the show aimed to raise people’s knowledge and understanding of the diversity of autism in an accessible way. Members and alumnae from CRAE, including Anna Remington (CRAE Director), Liz Pellicano (former CRAE Director now at Macquarie

University), Lorcan Kenny (final year PhD student), and Zeno the robot (from the DEENIGMA Project), featured in the show. As in our research, CRAE championed autistic involvement in the show’s development and showcased research from our Centre that focused on the strengths associated autism, as well as the challenges. Together with host Anna Richardson, Liz helped to explain UK autism diagnosis rates and headed to Queensmill School in London to demonstrate how robot technology (Zeno) might be a helpful learning tool for autistic children. Anna and Lorcan also ran research tasks with Jo and JP, which aimed to explore the lesser known non-social aspects of autism (e.g. sensory differences, everyday organisation skills) and how these might impact autistic people’s lives. When the show aired at 10pm on Channel 4 on Wednesday 28th March 2018, it reached an audience of 1.6 million viewers and was trending on Twitter (No.2) in the UK, creating 20.8 million impressions. Follow or join the conversation on Twitter via #AreYouAutistic

“Autism is still seen as a ‘binary stereotype’ - either as a ‘high-functioning’ genius where all your difficulties are ignored - or as ‘low-functioning’ and all your abilities are ignored... Autistic people are everything in between.” Georgia Harper 26

CRAE research in the news Anna Remington wrote an article for The Conversation - ‘People with autism can hear more than most – which can be a strength and a challenge’: The findings were also picked up by mainstream media, print (e.g., The Independent, Daily Mail,) and TV media (London Live News). Ahead of her talk at the New Scientist Live (2018) Anna was interviewed for New Scientist Magazine about her work on strengths in autism:

CRAE’s Alyssa M. Alcorm wrote an article for the Times Educational Supplement (TES) on what different technological initiatives, such as DE-ENIGMA, strive to achieve in educational settings (2018): An article in the Financial Times (FT) mentioned CRAE’s Autistica-funded research on evaluating an internship programme for autistic graduates at Deutsche Bank, on the benefits of employing people who think differently:

Zeno on your screens! Zeno the robot has proved very popular, appearing with the lead researcher of the DE-ENIGMA project team at CRAE, Dr Alyssa M. Alcorn, in several TV appearances since December 2017. This includes the iconic Royal Institute (Ri) Christmas Lectures hosted by UCL’s Professor Sophie Scott, CBBC’s children’s educational show Operation Ouch with Dr Chris and Dr Xand, interacting with children and Professor Liz Pellicano at Queensmill School London for Channel 4’s ‘Are You Autistic?’ show, and twice in one day (!) at the end of February 2018, where he mimicked Victoria Derbyshire’s face on her BBC news programme before appearing on BBC World News Global with Matthew Amroliwala.


Events DINA: Film Screening CRAE run an active annual programme of free public engagement events and are committed to engage with autistic people and their allies (e.g., families, teachers, clinicians), as well as, policymakers and the wider public, to promote awareness - and acceptance - of autism.

In October 2017, CRAE hosted a screening of the film ‘Dina’, which follows an autistic couple, Dina and Scott, as they navigate their relationship and prepare for their upcoming marriage. Winner of the Sundance Film Festival’s U.S. Documentary Grand Jury Prize, Dina is a film documentary that brings to light important themes of autism in adulthood, relationships, physical intimacy, independent living, autism in women and domestic abuse; issues that are rarely bought to light or broadcast to wider audiences. On the evening, we were lucky enough to be joined by the film’s lead Dina Buno, the its two directors, Antonio Santini and Daniel Sickles, for a panel discussion following the screening, which was chaired by Lucy Skilbeck, Director of Actor Training at RADA.


UCL Festival of Culture Everyone’s ‘normal’ is different. But what are the consequences on our mental health when we are pressured to act more like other people and their view of ‘normal’?

For the second year running, CRAE took part in the annual UCL Festival of Culture, which aims to open up UCL’s research to the public through talks, workshops and exhibitions.

On the opening day of the festival in June 2018, CRAE’s Laura Crane, and young autistic advocate, Jack Welch, co-hosted an interactive talk. The session aimed to explore themes from the Know Your Normal research about the experiences of mental health in young autistic people by encouraging attendees to share, discuss, reflect and challenge their own idea of ‘normal’.


Events CRAE Careers event for Autistic Students In November 2017, CRAE hosted an exciting and bespoke careers event for autistic students, in partnership with Ambitious about Autism, AS Mentoring, UCL careers and UCL Disability Services. This free-to-attend event enabled autistic students, their

families and those who support and care for them, to hear about career opportunities from companies who employ and support autistic people. The sold-out evening gave attendees the chance to meet and that with employers. Companies included: Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, Auticon, Network Rail, Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), and Interserve.

A very positive atmosphere enhanced by open and aware people. Student


Experience UCL: Prospective Students UCL Access and Widening Participation (Discover UCL) provide information, support and activities for young people, prospective students, teachers and UCL​staff. CRAE worked with UCL Widening Participation to help host a one-day event: Experience UCL, for students on the autism spectrum in Years 11-13 and their parents and families in May 2018.

The event was an exciting opportunity that gave students and their families a chance to find out more about UCL and the support available for them at university. This included a ‘taster’ lecture, an opportunity to meet current students, a talk from UCL Disability Services (#UCLCares) on what support is available at UCL and a UCL campus tour. The day was completely free, and lunch was provided. UCL have subsequently released a ‘Guide to UCL for autistic students’ and offer the ‘Autism & Uni toolkit’ for prospective and new autistic students:



Aut2Engage: Participatory workshops CRAE’s Deputy Director, Dr Laura Crane, was the proud recipient of a 2017-2018 British Academy Rising Star Engagement Award, awarded to a handful of distinguished early career academics to enable them to organise events, training and mentoring activities for other early career researchers. As part of this award, Laura organised a training event for early career autism researchers on participatory autism research (i.e., working with - not on, 32

about or for - the autistic community) at Kings College London in February 2018. The event included a wide range of talks, panel discussions and workshops about participatory autism research, led by members of the autistic community, research funders, and researchers who are engaged in participatory research. All talks and panel session from the day were filmed and have been made freely available online: You can check out the #Aut2Engage Twitter hashtag to read more about the discussions from the day and join the conversation!

New Scientist Live 2018 On Friday 21st September, CRAE’s Director, Anna Remington, gave an invited keynote talk at New Scientist Live (NSL) 2018 on the Humans Stage. Anna presented to a packed out auditorium and challenged the audience’s perception of autism with her talk entitled, ‘Is Autism A Gift?’, highlighting the many strengths of autism, as well as the challenges. She spoke of how her research in this area has shown that many autistic people often perform better than non-autistic people in awareness and perception tasks (i.e., detecting more visual or audio information more accurately) and argued that these unique abilities are slowly being recognised. Anna highlighted how, together with the autistic community, her and others are trying to change overly negative attitudes and perceptions of autism and by championing and supporting autistic people so we can push society forward. Read this wonderful review of the talk by autistic blogger, Lauren Alex Hooper:


Events 8th CRAE Annual Lecture & Farewell to Liz Pellicano Can non-autistic scientists ever really understand what autistic people and their families need from their research? That’s a question that activists and community groups have been asking with increasing vigour over recent years. In September 2017, in what was the 8th CRAE Annual Lecture, worldrenowned researcher and departing CRAE Director, Professor Liz Pellicano, spoke on this critical topic in her talk entitled, ‘Knowing Autism’. As part of this talk, Liz looked back at her years


at the Centre to investigate, in depth, what the autistic community rightly demands of autism research and the major changes that will need to be made to deliver on their expectations. Attended by over 300 guests, we would like to thank Liz, everyone who came along to the lecture and all of our wonderful sponsors - it was an emotional and fitting farewell for Liz who has left an indelible mark on the face of UK autism research. Watch the talk online:

Brain Detectives turns 5 years old! Brain Detectives is a series of free, four-hour science workshops held at the UCL Institute of Education throughout the year that gives autistic and non-autistic children and young people a chance to learn about the workings of the human brain, engage with real scientists about their work and take part in ongoing scientific research. CRAE ran four of our ever-popular Brain Detectives science clubs, welcoming 106 autistic and non-autistic children and young people (6-18 years old) to CRAE to take part in research and engage with researchers to learn about the brain and mind. In the Easter holidays 2018, we hosted our 15th Brain Detectives and celebrated the 5-year anniversary of Brain Detectives, which began in 2013. To-date, we have welcomed over 600 children, young people and their families through our doors. THANK YOU to everyone who has joined us! T: 020 7331 5126


School Partnerships


CRAE is honoured to work closely with a number of schools through our research partnerships. The Pan London Autism Schools Network (PLASN) is a network of schools from across London that all specialise in autism. The PLASN-Research group is a subgroup of PLASN that provides links between these schools and autism researchers (from a range of universities). This research-practice link enables us to identify priority topics for research that have a positive impact on the educational experiences of autistic children and young people. By working collaboratively, we ensure that schools adopt evidence-based practice. The group, chaired by CRAE’s Deputy Director, Laura Crane, meet termly (hosted by CRAE) and has grown to include educators and staff from 15 autism special and researchers from four insitutions across London. CRAE also work to produce the biannual PLASN-R newsletters, which detail the latest research projects that members are currently involved in. We have released Issues 1 - 3 to date. All are made freely available for wider dissemination to share best practice:




A huge thank you to all the autistic children, young people and adults, their families and those who support them, and to all of the schools with whom we work. Our work would simply not be possible without their continued support. We are also extremely grateful to our funders, including Pears Foundation, Ambitious about Autism, Autistica, Bloomsbury Colleges, British Academy, Economic and Social Research Council, European Research Council, UCL Grand Challenges, and Wellcome Trust. We would also like to thank those who helped draft the report, to Melissa Bovis for design and production, and to all the individuals, families and schools who contributed photographs. Thank you all ever so much.


From Appendix Research 1: CRAE toResearch Practice Projects: Funding And Awards (Oct 2017 - Sept 2018)

Research Funding Wellcome Hub Award, funded by Wellcome Trust, (Co-Investigator: Anna Remington, Principal Investigator: Heart n Soul, a creative arts company and charity in London). The project combines research and public engagement to explore what we can learn about wellbeing and productivity through the lens of those with learning disabilities and autism, £1 million, 2018-2020. Discover Autism Research and Employment Service (DARE), funded by Autistica (Principal Investigator: Anna Remington). New largescale longitudinal initiative to investigate employment in autism, £89K, 2018-2020. Evaluating the experiences of autistic and non-autistic graduates at Deutsche Bank UK, funded by Autistica, (Principal Investigator: Anna Remington, CoInvestigator: Liz Pellicano). £68K, 2016-2018. Bloomsbury Colleges PhD Studentship, secured by Anna Remington to support a CRAE PhD student on ‘harnessing strengths: assessing and improving cognitive control in autism’ (now held by Jana Brinkert), £64K, 2016-2019. Research Passport, funded by Autistica, (Principal Investigator: Laura Crane, CoInvestigators: Liz Pellicano and Robyn Steward). Project to develop a tool (to be integrated within Autistica’s Discover network) aimed at improving the experience of autistic people who are participating in research, £28.6K, 2018-2020.


Know Your Normal, funded by Ambitious about Autism, (Principal Investigator: Liz Pellicano). Investigating the mental health experiences of young autistic people in England, alongside young autistic volunteers from Ambitious, £6K, 2016-2017. Philanthropic Donations, CRAE was one of the charities chosen for Alex Wilson’s (Deutsche Bank Corporate Investment Bank Treasurer) Fundraising BBQ. Attendees donated over £3.5K, 2018.

Awards British Academy Rising Star Award, British Academy, Laura Crane, Principal Investigator. Award given to a handful of distinguished early career academics to enable them to organise events, training and mentoring activities for other early career researchers, £14K, 2017-2018. Team Award. Annual UCL Provost’s Public Engagement Awards. Know Your Normal project team won the category (ab0ve nine other UCL teams). The awards recognise and celebrate the commitment and dedication of UCL staff and students to public engagement in their research, 2018. Community Engagement Award. Autistica, Discover Conference, in recognition of Laura Crane’s participatory research projects, 2018. Nomination: Community Organisation Award. National Diversity Awards, CRAE team, 2018.


From Appendix Research 2: CRAE toPublications Practice & Reports (Oct 2017 – Sept 2018)

2018 Boesley, L., & Crane, L. (2018). “Forget the Health and Care and just call them Education Plans”: SENCOs’ perspectives on Education, Health and Care plans. Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs (JORSEN). Crane, L., Adams, F., Harper, G., Welch, J., & Pellicano, E. (2018). “Something needs to change”: Mental health experiences of young autistic adults in England. Autism DOI: Crane, L., Batty, R., Adeyinka, H., Goddard, L., Henry, L.A., & Hill, E.L. (2018). Autism diagnosis in the United Kingdom: Perspectives of autistic adults, parents and professionals. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. Crane, L., Wilcock, R., Maras, K., Chui, W., Marti-Sanchez, C., & Henry, L.A. (2018). Mock juror perceptions of child witnesses on the autism spectrum. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. Fletcher-Watson, S., Adams, J., Brook, K., Charman, T., Crane, L., Cusack, J., Leekam, S., Milton, D., Parr, J.R., & Pellicano, E. (2018). Making the future together: Shaping autism research through meaningful participation. Autism


George, R., Crane, L., Bingham, A., Pophale, C., & Remington, A. (2018). Legal professionals’ knowledge and experience of autistic adults in the family justice system. Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law. George, R.H., & Remington, A. (2018). Autistic individuals and the family justice system: research findings and good practice. Family Law. Maras, K.L., Mulcahy, S., Crane, L., Hawken, T., & Memon, A. (2018). Obtaining best evidence from the autistic interviewee: Policereported challenges, legal requirements and psychological research-based recommendations. Investigative Interviewing: Research and Practice, 9(1), 52-60. Steward, R., Crane, L., Roy, E., Remington, A., & Pellicano, E. (2018). “Life is much more difficult to manage during periods”: Autistic experiences of menstruation. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. White, R.C., & Remington, A. (2018). Object personification in autism: This paper will be very sad if you don’t read it. Autism. Wilcock, R., Crane, L., Hobson, Z., Nash, G., Kirke-Smith, M., & Henry, L.A. (2018). Supporting child witnesses during identification lineups: exploring the effectiveness of Registered Intermediaries. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 32(3), 367-375.

2017 Brede, J., Remington, A., Kenny, L., Warren, K., Pellicano, E. (2017). Excluded from school: Autistic students’ experiences of school exclusion and subsequent re-integration into school. Autism & Developmental Language Impairments. Croydon, A., Karaminis, T., Neil, L., Burr, D., Pellicano, E. (2017). The light-fromabove prior is intact in autistic children. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology. 161, 113–125. Galpin, J., Barratt, P., Ashcroft, E., Greathead, S., Kenny, L., & Pellicano, E. (2017). The dots just don’t join up”: Understanding the support needs of families of children on the autism spectrum. Autism. Karaminis, T., Lunghi, C., Neil, L., Burr, D., & Pellicano, E. (2017). Binocular rivalry in children on the autism spectrum. Autism Research. 1-14.

Karaminis, T., Neil, L., Manning, C., Turi, M., Fiorentini, C., Burr, D., & Pellicano, E. (2017). Ensemble perception of emotions in children with autism is similar to typically developing children. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience. 24, 51–62. Makin, C., Hill, V., & Pellicano, E. (2017). The primary-to-secondary school transition for children on the autism spectrum: A multi-informant mixed-methods study. Autism and Developmental Language Impairments, 2, 1-18. Manning, C., Morgan, M. J., Allen, C.T.W., & Pellicano, E. (2017). Susceptibility to Ebbinghaus and Müller-Lyer illusions in autistic children: a comparison of three different methods. Molecular Autism: 8:16. Maule, J., Stanworth, K., Pellicano, E., & Franklin, A. (2017). Ensemble perception of colour in autistic adults. Autism Research. 10: 839–851, 201. Neil, L., Green, D., & Pellicano, E. (2017) Brief Report: The psychometric properties of a new measure of sensory behaviours in autistic children. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. 47: 4, 1261–1268.

Parsons, O.E., Bayliss, A.P., & Remington, A. (2017). A few of my favourite things: circumscribed interests in autism are not accompanied by increased attentional salience on a personalized selective attention task. Pellicano, E., Kenny, L., Brede, J., Klaric, E., Lichwa, H., & McMillin, R. (2017). Executive function predicts school readiness in autistic and typical pre-schoolers. Cognitive Development. 43, 1–13. Remington, A., & Fairnie, J. (2017). A sound advantage: Increased auditory capacity in autism. Cognition. Rider, A., Coutrot, A., Pellicano, E., Dakin, S., & Mareschal, I. (2018). Semantic content outweighs low-level saliency in determining children’s and adult’s fixation of movies. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology. 166:293-309. Sproston, K., Sedgewick, F., Crane, L. (2017). Autistic girls and school exclusion: Perspectives of students and their parents. Autism & Developmental Language Impairments. 2, 1–14. Turner, H., Remington, A., & Hill, V. (2017). Developing an intervention to improve reading comprehension in children and young people with autism spectrum disorders. Educational and Child Psychology, 34 (2).

Unigwe, S., Buckley, C., Crane, L., Kenny, L., Remington, A., & Pellicano, E. (2017). GPs’ confidence in caring for their patients on the autism spectrum: an online self-report study. British Journal of General Practice. 67(659): 445 452.

Reports Croydon, A., Remington, A., Kenny, L., & Pellicano, E.: Satellite Classes: A Promising Model for Educating Children and Young People on the Autism Spectrum’ (2017). Remington, A., & Pellicano, E.: An Internship Programme for Autistic Graduates at Deutsche Bank, UK (2017). Crane, L., Adams, F., Harper, G., Welch, J., & Pellicano, E.: Mental Health in Young Autistic Adults: Know Your Normal (2017). Croydon, A., Crane, L., Kenny, L., & Pellicano, E.: Assessing the impact of the Wac Arts Interactive project (2017).


From Appendix Research 3: CRAE toKey Practice Conference Presentations (Oct 2017 – Sept 2018) CRAE members have been invited to present their research nationally and internationally at conferences, academic institutions, schools, charities, companies and festivals including in the USA, Canada, Denmark, Norway, Belgium, Portugal, Montenegro, Estonia, Italy (over 50 presentations). Key presentations include:

INSAR 2018, Rotterdam, NL A. M. Hussein, E. Pellicano & L. Crane. Knowledge and Awareness of Autism Amongst Somali Parents in the United Kingdom. S. Crockford, A. Remington & L. Kenny. An Investigation into Executive Function:Differences between Autistic and Non-Autistic Monolinguals and Multilinguals.


E. Buckley, E. Pellicano and A. Remington. Higher Levels of Autistic Traits Are Associated with Lower Wellbeing in Performing Arts Professionals and Students. J. Shen, E. Ainger, A. M. Alcorn, E. Pellicano, … & DE-ENIGMA consortium. Autism Data Goes Big: A Publicly-Accessible Multi-Modal Database of Child Interactions for Behavioural and Machine Learning Research. A. M. Alcorn, D. Girard, E. Ainger, E. Pellicano …& DE-ENIGMA consortium. Autism Characteristics, Adaptive Skills, and Performance in an Emotion-Recognition Teaching Programme with a Humanoid Robot. D. Girard, A. M. Alcorn, E. Ainger, E. Pellicano …& DE-ENIGMA consortium. Are Some Emotions Harder Than Others? a Study of Autistic

Children Recognising Human and Robot Facial Emotion Expressions in the UK and Serbia. B. R. Schadenberg, E. Ainger, A. M. Alcorn, E. Pellicano …& DE-ENIGMA consortium. Design of a Robot-Based Emotion-Mirroring Game to Engage Autistic Children with Emotional Expressions. A. Remington, O. Negri & R. C. White. Personification in Autism: This Abstract Will be Very Sad If You Don’t Read It. A. Remington & J. Brinkert. Making Sense of the Perceptual Capacities in Autistic and Non-autistic People.

L. Kenny, A. Remington & E. Pellicano. Testing the Ecological Validity of Executive Function Assessment in Autism with a Novel ‘Tea-Making’ Task. S. Mantinioti, E. Ainger, A. M. Alcorn & E. Pellicano. Educator Practices and Perspectives on Social and Emotional Skills Teaching in UK Autism Education. E. Ainger, Y. Shek, A. M. Alcorn & E. Pellicano. Observing Interactions between Teaching Staff and Autistic Children: Who Communicates, How Often, and Why? a Cross-Cultural Comparison between UK and Serbia. L. Crane, F. Adams, G. Harper, J. Welch and E. Pellicano. ‘Something Needs to Change’: Mental Health in Young Autistic Adults. E. Pellicano, S. Cribb & L. Kenny. Childhood Executive Function Predicts Later Adaptive Functioning and Autistic Features: A 12-Year Longitudinal Study.

IMFAR 2017, San Francisco, USA A. Remington, L. Crane and R. George. Access to Justice: Legal Professionals’ Experience and Knowledge of Autism in Family Courts in England. S. O’Brien, M. Hanley, D. M. Riby, J. Swettenham and A. Remington. Enhanced Perceptual Capacity in the Classroom: Harnessing Cognitive Strengths to Promote Learning. W. Mandy, J. Heron, E. Pellicano, B. St. Pourcain and D. H. Skuse. Investigating GenderSpecific Trajectories of Autistic Traits Across Childhood and Adolescence in a Large Birth Cohort. M. J. Bovis, A. Alexander and E. Pellicano. “My Brain Helps Me Think about Stuff”: Autistic Children’s Understanding of the Brain and Its Role in Behaviour. F. R. Sedgewick, V. Hill and E. Pellicano. “Friends Are Hard…but It Gets Better”: An Examination of the Friendship Experiences of Adolescent Girls and Adult Women on the autism spectrum.

S. Unigwe, L. Kenny, C. Buckley, A. Remington, L. Crane and E. Pellicano. Understanding General Practitioners’ Knowledge, Attitudes and Experiences in the Recognition and Management of Individuals on the Autism Spectrum. J. L. Brede, A. Remington, L. Kenny, K. Warren and E. Pellicano. Back to School: Understanding the Path to Re-Integration for Autistic Children Who Previously Experienced Educational Exclusion. A. Croydon, A. Remington, L. Kenny, H. White and E. Pellicano. Satellite classes: a promising model for educating children and young people on the autism spectrum. E. R. Palser, A. Fotopoulou, E. Pellicano and J. M. Kilner. Interoceptive Sensibility Predicts Anxiety in Children on the Autism Spectrum. A. Remington, E. Roy, R. Sealy and E. Pellicano. Getting Autistic People into Work: Evaluation of a Paid Internship Programme for Autistic Graduates. S. J. Cribb, L. Kenny and E. Pellicano. Life after School: Understanding the Transition to Adulthood from the Perspectives of Young Autistic People and Their Parents.

Invited talks A. Remington. Increased Perceptual Capacity. McGill University and Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM), Canada (2017). L. Crane. Mental health in young autistic people. 6th Meeting of Minds conference, Denmark (2017). (Meeting with Her Royal Highness Princess Marie of Denmark, Patron of the Danish parent organisation, Landsforeningen Autisme). A. Remington. The Autism Gift: valuing autistic skills. 1st Ministry of Health symposium (in collaboration with UNICEF), Montenegro (2017). DE-ENIGMA team. Robot technology as a socio-emotion recognition learning tool for autistic children. Tallin Digital Summit (attended by all EU Heads of State and governments), Estonia (2017). L. Crane. Know Your Normal research, Talk Autism! Series, Merton Mencap and for The Learning Trust’s conference for Special Educational Needs Coordinators (SENCOs), London (2017). A. Alcorn. Evidence on technologies for autism, Cambridge Wireless, Cambridge (2017).

L. Kenny, S. J. Cribb and E. Pellicano. Childhood Theory of Mind and Cognitive Flexibility and Early Developmental Change in Planning Skills Predict Later Behavioural Outcomes in Autistic Adolescents: A 12-Year Prospective Study.

M. Bovis. CRAE showcase: embedding public engagement into research best practice, Thai Networks: Engagement Thailand (EnT) and Knowledge Network Institute of Thailand (KNIT), London (2017).

R.Sealy, A. M. Alcorn, T. Tavassoli, S. Babovi Dimitrijevic, S. Petrovi, S. Skendzic, V. Petrovi and E. Pellicano. Robots Teaching Autistic Children to Mind Read: A Feasibility Study of Child-Robot Interaction during Emotion-Recognition Training.

A. Alcorn. Challenges and risks that young people may be vulnerable to online, Safer Internet Forum, Belgium (2018).

J. Galpin, P. Barratt, E. Ashcroft, S. Greathead, L. Kenny and E. Pellicano. “the Dots Just Don’t Join up”: Understanding the Support Needs of Families of Children on the Autism Spectrum. N. Harada, E. Pellicano, Y. Tojo, T. Hasegawa, H. Osanai and A. Senju. Cultural Influence on Natural Scene Viewing in Autism: A Comparison Between Japan and the UK.

A. Remington. Autism and Employment, National Autistic Society’s Professionals’ Conference, Harrogate, UK (2018). A. Remington. Disability and Society, Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences, Norway (2018). A. Remington & L. Crane. Participatory Research, New York University (NYU), London (2018).


Centre for Research in Autism and Education (CRAE) Department of Psychology and Human Development UCL Institute of Education University College London (UCL) 55-59 Gordon Square London WC1H 0NU © 2018 UCL Institute of Education

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