IMFAR 2016: Bridging the Research Gap: Incorporating Autistic Intellect in Research Design & Evaluation

Dena L. Gassner and Stephen Shore, Alexa Pohl and John Elder Robison discussed the importance of including autistic people in all areas of the autism research process. Unfortunately, session catalyst Monique Blakemore was unable to attend IMFAR due to funding hiccups.


  1. Special Interest Group (SIG) description: Recent IMFAR gatherings have emphasized the need to close the gap between the bench and the community in regard to autism outcomes. This SIG seeks to create dialogue about what autistic individuals can bring to the research bench as contributors to design, analysis and review of potential research. One case example; a study on autistic women wherein such collaboration enhanced the quality and outcomes will be shared. This paradigm shift from "for people with autism" to "with autistic collaboration" is key in order to target, prioritize and expedite proactive outcomes. We will also discuss making these situations meaningful for the person with autism, rather than tokenistic or demeaning in nature. Finally, we will discuss changes needed to insure an accessible and inclusive workplace for autistic researchers.
  2. "Well, yeah" example: Spectrum Magazine reported on IMFAR 2016 research indicating autistic people have "unusual sensory processing" even during basic tasks. The Thinking Person's Guide to Autism Facebook forum on the article contains 60+ comments, mostly confirmations, mostly from autistic people.