Re-Mapping Autism Research in the UK: Identifying Priorities for the Decade Ahead

US spends 18 times more on autism research than UK

Levels of autism research in the UK fall way behind those of the US, finds new research The research, undertaken on behalf of Research Autism, is published today by the Centre for Research in Autism and Education (CRAE) at the Institute of Education (IOE), London and King's College London's Institute of Psychiatry.

House of Commons Reception, 3 May 2012. Launch of the Re-Mapping Project.

Child with autism and teacher looking at globeProject Area: Systematic survey which summarises the current state of UK research activity on autism.

Lead Researcher: Professor Tony Charman

Institution: Centre for Research in Autism and Education, Institute of Education, University of London

Status: Complete

Length: 15 months from the point at which funding is secured

Method: Systematic literature review, along with interviews of individuals with autism, carers, researchers and others


This project

  • Contributed to scientific understanding and knowledge
  • Ensured that research funding is targeted to areas where it is most needed
  • Helped to unlock the potential of people with autism in the UK and support their families

Funding: We would like to thank the Waterloo Foundation for its support of this project.

Additional Information

This project was designed to identify the priorities for autism research over the next decade. We achieved this by identifying and evaluating the existing research in this area and by soliciting the views of people with autism, parents of people with autism and autism researchers.

It is essential that we have an up-to-date understanding of what research is taking place and where, to ensure that future activity is co-ordinated and rational. In order to direct funds where they are most needed, there needs to be an exercise which summarises the current state of the field in terms of UK research activity and spending, that consults parents, people with autism, researchers, funders and government agencies about future priorities, and places UK research within a European and international context. Parents and carers, and people with autism, are rarely actively engaged in the research process (in saying how an issue is researched, how it becomes funded, who undertakes the research and so on). This re-mapping exercise continued a much-needed dialogue between these communities and researchers, and enabled parents and people with autism potentially to actively shape the future UK research agenda.

By undertaking a systematic study of current research, this project identified areas of urgent need and gaps in research, and inform the research agenda for the next decade. In so doing, it helped to unlock the potential of people on the autism spectrum in the UK, support their families, and contribute to scientific understanding and knowledge. The project also has the potential to ensure that research funding is targeted to areas where it is most needed (as decided by the communities for whom scientific research is most relevant) over the coming decade.

This project built on and updated a similar project undertaken by Professor Charman in 2004, which was published as Charman T., Clare P. (2004). Mapping autism research: identifying UK priorities for the future London: National Autistic Society.

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14 Mar 2018