The Australian Autism Research Council (AARC) was established to review and define national priorities for autism research and identify areas of research needed for the autistic and autism communities.
The current AARC has formed a list of 10 priority areas which will guide autism research into the future
How can built environments be made more accessible to the autistic community?
Many autistic individuals have different sensory experiences, co-occurring medical conditions or disabilities that may impact their degree of accessibility. Inclusive spaces increase the ability for people on the autism spectrum to live comfortably, work, socialise and contribute to the community
Choice in living and housing
How do we ensure that autistic people have choice and control over where they live and who they live with?
Many autistic people live with family or in situations where they have not chosen their home, supports or housemates. Autistic people should have the opportunity to make real choices and have access to inclusive models of housing.
How can we best support the communication skills of autistic Australians?
Individuals on the autism spectrum experience challenges with communication. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) reported in their 2015 Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers found that almost half (49%) of people on the spectrum need help with communication
How can we transition to an inclusive education system that meets the needs of students on the autism spectrum?
Autism may have an impact on a person’s education. The Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers found that 83.7% of children and young people reported difficulty in education.
How can Australia transition to an inclusive workforce that provides opportunities for meaningful employment to all autistic people?
The Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers reported that labour force participation was 40.8% for autistic Australians, compared to 53.4% for people with other disabilities and 83.2% for the general population.
Family and carer support
How can we best support families and carers of people on the spectrum?
Families and carers of autistic individuals need access to evidence-based, best practice models of support. This includes acknowledging that families and carers have diverse strengths, needs and circumstances, including carers who are autistic themselves.
Gender, diversity and inclusion
How do we ensure equity for autistic individuals regardless of gender, intersectional identity or cultural background?
Whilst research has traditionally focused on male presentations of autism, an estimated 20% of autistic individuals in Australia are female. The autistic population also includes individuals who are LGBTQIA+, Culturally and Linguistically Diverse, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and those with intersectional identities.
Health and disability services delivery
How is the physical and mental health of autistic Australians affected by the availability and accessibility of health, disability and education services?
Access to diagnosis and support is often challenging in more regional and remote areas and for particular populations. Health service needs may vary among the autistic population. Differences in communication, sensory experience and executive functioning may impact people’s ability to access services.
Health and wellbeing
How do we ensure optimal physical and mental health for all autistic Australians?
Individuals on the autism spectrum have an increased chance of additional chronic medical conditions than the general population. These include sleep disorders, gastro-intestinal problems, epilepsy, anxiety and other mental health issues.
What measures can be taken to prevent discrimination, exploitation, violence and abuse of autistic Australians, and ensure equity in accessing justice?
In 2019, Australia launched a Royal Commission into the violence and abuse against people with a disability. There are barriers to accessing and receiving justice for individuals on the autism spectrum.
How were the research priorities identified?
- The AARC looked at domestic and international research commitments, and surveys on autism research priorities.
- Seven broad research priority areas were identified.
- The Autistic and autism communities were asked what was important to them through an online survey and submission process. More than 1,000 responses were received.
- The AARC considered the survey and submission results and formed a list of 10 priority areas which will guide autism research into the future.
The research priority areas for community consultation were developed by the AARC, using the following guiding principles:
Autistic people at the centre
The priorities should be focused on assisting autistic people to discover what they want for their own lives and supporting them to achieve their goals.
Inclusive of all autistic people
The priorities should reflect the full diversity of the autism spectrum, including autistic people living without formal diagnosis. Priorities should focus on challenges and issues and positive models of care being inclusive of: age, gender, LGBTIQA+, geography, ethnicity, co-occurring disability, socio-economic disadvantage, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals and families.
The research priorities should target areas that will create the most meaningful impact for autistic individuals and their families.
You can now read the final Report of the Australian Autism Research Priorities 2019 and its supporting documents.
If you would like to view a copy of the original draft priorities which were the subject of the community consultation:
- Download the Australian Autism Research Council: Draft Research Priorities for Consultation 2019
- Download the Easy Read version – includes pictures and larger text