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issue 14

spring/summer 2019

10 years of CRAE...


editor: anne fritz


Autism and Employment Discover Autism Research and Employment (DARE) is a collaboration between CRAE and the autism research charity Autistica. DARE works with organisations across the UK to understand the experiences of autistic employees and job seekers. DARE aim to build a holistic and longitudinal evidence-base for understanding the factors behind the current autism employment gap disadvantaging autistic adults. Together with Autistica, we recently contributed to an Employment Action Briefing, summarising the most important scientific findings about employment in the autistic community. Read the briefing here: https://bit.ly/2rdhNuP

Research Passport Autistic people and their families are more likely to take part in research if they feel that their needs are met and their views are listened to. Thus, there is an urgent need to find an easy way that people can share their needs and experiences with researchers, so that everyone feels comfortable taking part in research from start to finish.

Aware of these difficulties, Robyn Steward, one of our autistic collaborators, had the idea of developing a Research Passport. So now, together with autism research charity Autistica, we are developing this! Our aim is for the Research Passport to be a way for autistic people and researchers to be able to have a conversation about things like communication preferences and the research environment, and make the process of taking part better for both the autistic person and the researcher. We’re currently trialling the Research Passport and look forward to sharing the finished product with you next year!

New PLASN-R Project UCL recently launched the #MadeAtUCL campaign to highlight innovative research being conducted at the university that has made a significant impact on society. CRAE Director Anna Remington’s research on improving employment prospects for autistic adults has been featured by the campaign under the category of “Justice and Equality”. You can read more and vote for the story here: https://bit.ly/2kNL50j

empower schools to conduct their own research. This ensures that research makes a real difference to pupils and staff at PLASN-R schools.

We are excited to announce that CRAE has received funding to work on a new project with PLASN-R: the Pan London Autism Schools Network Research Group. PLASN-R is a network of special schools from across London that all specialise in autism. PLASN-R is chaired by CRAE’s Laura Crane, together with Lucia Santi from The Grove School in Hackney. PLASN-R facilitates the opportunity for schools to collaborate with autism researchers, and

Starting in November 2019, CRAE’s Laura Crane and Anne Fritz will work with Lucia Santi and CRAE collaborator Jamie Galpin across the PLASN-R partner schools. The central outcome of this project is for better educational practice, and therefore better support, for pupils, families and staff at specialist autism schools, on research topics that really matter to them.

UPCOMING EVENT: 10th Annual Lecture with Luke Beardon Tuesday, 31st March 2020 We are excited to announce that Dr Luke Beardon from Sheffield Hallam University will host our 10th Annual Lecture. Luke’s talk ‘Autopia (Autistic Utopia)’ will identify what he believes to be the current state of play regarding societal and professional conceptualisations of autistic individuals, and provide a vision for what a future autistic utopia might look like, purely from his perspective. Luke’s presentation will be wide-ranging, possibly provocative, probably contentious, and unapologetically celebratory in tone. Visit our new website, for more information and to sign up for your ticket.

inside crae

Autistic Peer Group CRAE Travel The World: Conferences CRAE’s PhD Student Kana Umagami has recently set up the Autistic Peer Group (APG). The APG is a new and unique initiative set up BY and FOR autistic students at University College London. For many reasons, life can be difficult for autistic students. Kana started this community in January 2019, with the hope of giving autistic students a sense of belonging and safety at university. APG provides an hour a week when autistic students can engage with each other in a safe and calming environment, providing a space for developing an authentic sense of connection. The APG meets every Wednesday from 4pm to 5pm during term time. If you’re a current or prospective autistic student at UCL and are interested in joining, email Kana for more details. kana.umagami.18@ucl.ac.uk

It’s been another busy year for CRAE members! We have been invited to present our research nationally and internationally. Key highlights include the annual International Society for Autism Research (INSAR), held in Montreal (Canada) in May 2019. Here the CRAE team presented 9 posters. CRAE’s Brett Heasman also gave a talk on disclosing a diagnosis of autism.

In June 2019, CRAE members presented at the Autistica Discover Conference in Reading, UK. In addition to poster presentations by several CRAE members, Brett Heasman hosted a breakfast workshop sharing insights from CRAE’s Neurodiversity Employment Survey. Several members of the CRAE team then travelled to Nice (France) in September for the Autism Europe International Congress. In addition to CRAE’s Laura Crane chairing a session on family and stakeholder experiences, CRAE presented two posters and gave two talks. CRAE’s Alyssa Alcorn also co-led a workshop, sharing practical ‘lessons learned’ from DE-ENIGMA’s studies with over 180 school-aged autistic children with additional intellectual disabilities in the UK and Serbia. In October 2019, Laura Crane travelled to Madrid in Spain, to give a talk on mental health in young autistic people for the Confederation Autismo Espana.


10-Year Anniversary


In April 2019, CRAE handed over its Facebook and Twitter accounts to our autistic team members and collaborators for World Autism Awarenss Week (WAAW)! Contributors shared their views and experiences of autism research.

It’s All Academic

In October 2019, CRAE took part in UCL’s third It’s All Academic Festival. It’s an opportunity for the public to go behind the scenes at UCL, quiz leading academic and get hands-on with some of UCL’s most exciting work through talks, workshops and exhibitions. CRAE’s Jana Brinkert, Kana Umagami, Maria Ashworth and placement student Julie Cumin hosted an interactive stall, where audience members were able to wear Muse headbands to measure their brain’s electrical activity, and (with the help of an app) visualise their mood! Contact us: IOE.crae@ucl.ac.uk

CRAE turned 10! This year, CRAE celebrated 10 years of autism research! This would not have been possible without the generous support from our funders and supporters, plus all the fabulous children, young people, adults, families, practitioners, teachers and school staff who so generously give up their time to help with our research. So to commemorate this momentous occasion, and say THANK YOU, we had our 10-Year Anniversary Celebration at the beginning of November 2019. We took this opportunity to showcase snapshots of our research over the years, and delved further into the next decade of autism research.

crae news


Hellos and goodbyes Since the autumn of 2018, we’ve welcomed and said goodbye to many fabulous people! There have been lots of changes in the CRAE PhD office. Firstly, the arrival of four new PhD students. We warmly welcome Kana Umagami, Mel Romualdez, Alison Livemore and SarahLouise Quinnell. Kana’s PhD research involves a comprehensive investigation of loneliness in autistic people across different stages of their life. Mel joined CRAE to investigate work experiences of autistic people and how employment-related support services can be improved. Alison examines best practice in autism resource provisions, and Sarah-Louise investigates how to make group-based learning more inclusive for neurodiverse students.

Brett Heasman joined CRAE in October 2018 as Post-Doctoral Researcher. Brett manages the Discover Autism Research and Employment (DARE) project. He works closely with a number of organisations throughout the UK to understand the experiences of autistic employees and job seekers. He builds a holistic and longitudinal evidence-base to understand the factors behind the current autism employment gap disadvantaging autistic adults.

smoothly and efficiently.


CRAE is delighted to have welcomed Anne Fritz to the team, as our new Research Communications and Engagement Officer. Anne brings a wealth of experience to this role, having completed her postgraduate training in neuroscience at King’s College London specialising in autism, and having worked as a producer of patient and public involvement/engagement programmes for the last nine years.

Last but not least, we wish our incredible Director, Anna Remington, the very best for her maternity leave! We miss her immensely, but are so very happy to have welcomed our youngest CRAE member (a new Brain Detective!), Finn, born in July 2019!

In the meantime, we said a tearful farewell to research assistant Alria Williams and Engagement Officer Melissa Bovis. Alria worked as part of CRAE’s DE-ENIGMA team, and has now moved on to the Maudsley, King’s College London to work as Assistant Psychologist. Mel moved on from CRAE to take up the role of Public Engagement Coordinator at King’s College London. We wish them all the best in their new roles! We sadly said goodbye to our 2018-19 undergraduate placement students, Beth Tobiansky and Monique Bellchambers-Joseph. We want to take this opportunity to thank them both for their hard work over the past year, helping out with various research projects and CRAE events. We will miss them greatly and wish them all the best for their final years at the University of Manchester! However, we are happy to have welcomed Julie Cumin, all the way from Canada, and Jade Davies, from the University of Manchester.

Maria Ashworth joined us as our new Research Assistant in May 2019. Maria works on the Research Passport project, developing a tool to improve the experiences of autistic people taking part in research. She has also been supporting the DE-ENIGMA team at CRAE. We are excited to announce that Pravina Tailor joined CRAE as our new centre coordinator in February 2019. Pravina makes sure that the administrative aspects of our lab’s research run

In the meantime the fabulous Laura Crane has taken over as Acting Director of CRAE.

In October 2019, Finn Diebel spent his one-week work experience placement with us at CRAE. Finn is interested in IT, and has been helping us with our new website. It was a pleasure to have him join the CRAE team!

PhD upgrades CRAE congratulates our PhD students, Jana Brinkert and Clare Truman who passed their upgrade vivas earlier this year! Jana’s PhD research focuses on attention and superior perceptual processes in autistic people. Clare’s PhD research focuses on the educational and support experiences of autistic children who display extreme demand avoidance behaviours.

Newsflash! CRAE has a new website! Visit www.crae.ioe.ac.uk to have a look!

At the Centre for Research in Autism and Education (CRAE), UCL Institute of Education, our mission is to help enhance the lives of autistic people and their families. We aim to fulfil our mission by (i) conducting ground-breaking scientific research, (ii) ensuring this evidence-based knowledge is translated, and (iii) actively engaging autistic people and their allies in the conversation to make a real difference to people’s everyday lives.

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Visit us at crae.ioe.ac.uk

Profile for CRAE

CRAE Newsletter Issue 14  

The latest research, news and events from The Centre for Research in Autism and Education (CRAE), UCL Institute of Education.

CRAE Newsletter Issue 14  

The latest research, news and events from The Centre for Research in Autism and Education (CRAE), UCL Institute of Education.

Profile for crae.ioe