Autistic researchers inside and outside of academia

In this post we explore our experiences as autistic researchers.  Both of us were diagnosed later in life, Aimee at 37 and Helen at 56, having already completed PhDs and established careers as researchers. Aimee has worked within a charity, the NHS and mostly within academia.

During two of her roles, Aimee was not able to access agreed reasonable adjustments related to her neurodivergence, resulting in her experiencing mental ill health, battling to (re)instate adjustments and needing to leave the jobs.

By contrast, most of Helen’s career has been spent as an independent researcher, working on commissioned research for statutory and third sector organisations and partnerships. Before this she had various employee roles, in business, social services, and charities, none of which lasted very long.

Doing the actual work was never a problem for either of us; in fact, in common with many autistic people, we experienced rebuke for working too fast and too effectively

The problem was our inability to thrive in workplaces designed by and for neurotypical and able-bodied people. In this blog we focus on our strengths as autistic researchers, and the environments in which we flourish

The strengths of Autistic researchers

Autistic people are often viewed negatively, and seen through a lens of deficits. This applies to undiagnosed autistic people too, who may be seen as weirdos, attention-seeking, needy, chatterbox, anti-social, and so on. But what would happen if we turned this on its head, and looked at autistic strengths and how they c