ResearchEnsuring Autistic Voices Are Heard and Heeded
Why I Research
No one believes what autistic people say. They only listen when there is academic research to back it up. And autistic people are disadvantaged in education and academia so too often that credence is given to research done by neurotypical people (non autistic) over the autistic voice.
I’m an autistic academic dedicated to researching autistic parenthood to help make improve the lives of autistic people and I intend to continue researching autistic experience as an Doctoral student.
My current research is around autistic parenthood. To my knowledge there is no research about the experiences or needs of autistic people who are parents. When I began my research topic it became clear that the words ‘autism’ and ‘parent’ were strongly linked and people often confuse the terms and my tweet about this has received 759 likes.
When I say my dissertation is about ‘autistic parenting’ everyone assumes I mean parenting autistic children.
When I look for literature I have to wade through irrelevant stuff about parenting autistic kids.
Do people think autistic parents don’t exist?
— Shona (Proud to be autistic) (@ShonaDav) December 28, 2017
So outside of my research I’ve started a hashtag, #AutisticParent, for autistic parents to connect with each other.
When a minority group is so overlooked that research and Goggle seem unaware that autistic parents exist then we are being erased. The concept of autistic parenting doesn’t exist yet many autistic people have children and autistic children are likely to have an autistic parent. It could be said that this is a feminist issue as autistic women are often later diagnosed than autistic men and some women are being affected by being undiagnosed autistics and The Guardian (2016) explains what this may mean :
“But experts are warning that these mothers risk having their children forcibly adopted in the fight to get them diagnosed and supported, as social workers misinterpret the parent’s autistic traits as indicating potential harm to the child.”
“Their own autism, often undiagnosed, means they put professionals’ backs up and can be accused of causing or fabricating their children’s condition,” said Dr Judith Gould, the lead consultant and former director of the Lorna Wing Centre for Autism who developed the first and only female-specific diagnostic tests, and who trains doctors in how to recognise late-adult female diagnosis.”
Dr Judith Gould, The Guardian 2017
Other Research Interests
I am a member of the Autism Matters Research Team who are currently researching support for autistics in secondary school and research into wellbeing.