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Michele Dawson

The Lessons of Autism History: by Michelle Dawson

Michelle Dawson, Canadian autism researcher, gives her thoughts as part of this Autistica blog series examining what we can learn from history in order to guide future autism research.

History tells us about the great importance of standards in human research—standards of science, standards of ethics. History also tells us that segregation harms human beings. The costs and injustices of segregated schools, workplaces, and neighborhoods are well known, but there are other more insidious ways to segregate. Denying a group of people the benefit and protection of standards in research is especially harmful and violates basic human rights. It is segregation at its worst, destructive to human well-being and scientific progress both. Yet in autism intervention research, these lessons have not been learned.

Autistics have long been subject to separate, unequal standards in both research and practice. Claims that standards must be lower for autistics than would be acceptable for anyone else continue to prevail. When it comes to autism interventions, autism-specific low standards have proliferated, by popular demand, and are now nearly universal. History tells us to recognize this as segregation at its insidious worst, but this has not yet happened.

Instead autism organizations and advocacy leaders, including those known for attacking each other, agree when it comes to segregating autistics this way. In their documents, policies, recommendations, and lobbying, they all promote autism-specific low standards—especially in interventions. Ignoring the strong lessons of history, they all support the segregation of autistics from the basic rights and standards which protect and benefit everyone else. Their high-profile disputes are, instead, over which kinds of bad science and bad ethics should be foisted on autistics.

The results are obvious. In non-autism areas, poor quality research and its harms—its waste of resources, its misleading findings—are vigorously condemned. There is recognition that even the best existing research standards are flawed and need always to be improved. But when it comes to autism, standards have instead been lowered or discarded to accommodate the extremely poor autism intervention literature. Poor standards in intervention research are seen not as harmful and wasteful, which they are, but as what autistics need and deserve. Resources have poured not into improving these abysmal standards, but into making the very poor quality autism intervention literature more powerful and influential.

In one influential paper, the authors devised an elaborate system of autism-specific low standards for evaluating intervention research, then suggested extending this segregated system to other developmentally disabled individuals. The authors did not suggest doing this to the typical population, to people like themselves—this clearly would be harmful and unacceptable.

The segregation of autistics from basic standards in research has also lowered the bar for autistics in other areas: in practice and professional ethics, in public policy, politics, law, journalism, medicine, education, and the list goes on. It has further removed any incentive to fund, conduct, or publish good quality autism intervention research. Yet, the popular effort to impose autism-specific low standards in the area of intervention research can be shown to lack any scientific or ethical foundation.

It is remarkable that while alarming claims about “costs of autism” are everywhere, there has been no concern whatsoever about the high costs, at every level, of autism-specific low standards. What is the way forward? We should listen to what history tells us. We should stop segregating autistics from the basic rights and standards everyone else can take for granted. Then we can see what else is needed.


Michelle Dawson is affiliated with University of Montreal’s autism research group and can be followed on Twitter @autismcrisis

James Fitzpatrick teenage and Mike 2

The Lessons of Autism History: by Mike Fitzpatrick

Mike Fitzpatrick, a GP and parent of a young adult with autism contributes to this Autistica blog series examining what we can learn from history in order to guide future autism research.

‘Neurodiversity advocates propose that instead of viewing this gift [autism] as an error of nature – a puzzle to be solved and eliminated with techniques like prenatal testing and selective abortion – society should regard it as a valuable part of humanity’s genetic legacy while ameliorating the aspects of autism that can be profoundly disabling without adequate forms of support.’ Steve Silberman, Neurotribes:  The legacy of autism and how to think smarter about people who think differently, 2015.

Priorities in autism research: basic science or practical interventions?

In his new book, American journalist and author Steve Silberman endorses an emerging consensus, extending from autism activists to autism academics, based on insisting on a rigid dichotomy between basic scientific research, on the one hand, and research into practical interventions likely to have immediate practical benefits, on the other. Silberman echoes neurodiversity activists in disparaging research in the fields of genetics and neuroscience, partly because earlier promises of rapidly transformative effects have not been fulfilled, and partly because biomedical studies are linked to the quest to find ‘a cause and a cure’ (or even to proposals for eugenic ‘preventive’ interventions). He also upholds the demand made by many adult autistic advocates that resources should be diverted into investigations of educational, psychological and social interventions that may ameliorate some of the day to day difficulties experienced by people with autism and their families.

But this argument is based on a false counterposition. Genetic and biomedical research need not be linked to a eugenic agenda, but may have more humane and more realistic objectives. Despite the disappointments following the hype surrounding the human genome project, some progress is being made in a number of areas. Investigating the pathways linking genes and central nervous system pathways and neurotransmitter systems involved in particular patterns of behaviour may open the way towards treatments for many clinical features associated with autism. For example, many people with autism experience problems of anxiety and depression, obsessional and compulsive behaviours; others manifest self-injurious or challenging behaviour; many have epileptic fits. Scientific studies may yield insights into problems of learning disabilities and even into some of the difficulties of social interaction experienced by people with autism.

There can be no doubt that we need more research into many of the practical interventions currently in use for people with autism, from medications to teaching techniques to behavioural programmes. But this should not be at the expense of basic biomedical research which may yield more substantial longer-term benefits.

Michael Fitzpatrick, GP and parent of James, a young adult with autism.


Steve Silberman & book cover

The Lessons of Autism History: by Steve Silberman

Steve Silberman, author of the recently released book Neurotribes, discusses how he believes we can learn from what has gone before to shape autism research in the future.

What lessons can researchers learn from the history of autism? To answer that question accurately, it’s crucial to get the history right first. While undertaking the research for my book NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and How to Think Smarter About People Who Think Differently, I was surprised to discover that even the basic timeline of autism’s discovery, reiterated in thousands of textbooks and Wikipedia, was incorrect.

Though Leo Kanner is usually given the credit for discovering autism at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore in 1943, I learned that Hans Asperger and his colleagues at the University of Vienna were already writing about it insightfully as early as the mid-1930s. Furthermore, Asperger’s conception of autism was much more expansive and prescient than Kanner’s, encompassing a broad “continuum” of clinical presentations, from children with profound intellectual disability and no speech to a chatty assistant professor of astronomy; in other words, the autism spectrum as we know it today. And while Kanner insisted that autism was rare — a bit of speculation that prevailed unchallenged until Lorna Wing and Judith Gould overturned it in the 1980s — Asperger believed that autism and autistic traits are common, and that once you learn to recognize them, you see them everywhere.

Now we know that Asperger was right about the scope and prevalence of the condition he described. Particularly in the United States, however, the notion that autism is a formerly rare condition that suddenly exploded in incidence in the 1990s has lingered in the public imagination, despite the fact that the hypothesis that the MMR vaccine was responsible has been discredited by multiple studies. As a result, much of the research funded by American organizations like the National Institutes of Health and Autism Speaks has focused on hunting down autism’s causes in an ever-lengthening list of candidate genes, de novo mutations, and potential environmental triggers. Meanwhile, less than two percent of the research funded by the NIH and Autism Speaks focuses on improving the lives of autistic adults — and that number is falling, according to a recent U.S. government report.

Though some of this research may eventually result in more effective therapies, the problem with the relentless focus on causation, says John Elder Robison, who formerly served as an advisor to Autism Speaks’ science board and is autistic himself, is that:

“the translational horizon is ten to twenty years out. We need to balance this long-game approach with research that will benefit autistic people and their families now.”

Areas of study that are perpetually overlooked and underfunded include: investigating the incidence of autism among women, people of color, and communities that don’t have good access to health care; addressing problems in sensory integration; developing more affordable methods of enabling communication for nonspeaking autistics; reducing the incidence of seizures (one of the leading causes of death in autism), sleep disorders, and gastrointestinal distress in people on the spectrum; exploring ways of facilitating inclusive education; developing strategies for preparing autistic teenagers to enter the workforce; helping people on the spectrum to live more independently in their communities; probing the connection between bullying, chronic anxiety, and depression; reducing discrimination in employment and housing; and providing more resources to enable families to make informed choices about service providers.

There is much work left to be done.

Steve Silberman is the author of NeuroTribes: How to Think Smarter About People Who Think Differently (Allen & Unwin 2015).

Christmas cards

Autistica Paperchase Christmas cards


We are fortunate this Christmas to again have the support of Paperchase who will be donating 50p from the sale of every pack of Autistica branded card packs to our vital research.

There are two designs to choose from, and you can buy instore or online. If you are making the purchase online, why not go via Easyfundraising so that we get up to an  extra 4% on your purchase.

Each pack contains 8 charity Christmas cards. Cards measure 150mm x 150mm. They are available as a 3 for 2 deal.


Winter card

BUY ONLINE: Winter landscape – £4.00 


Retro christmas card

BUY ONLINE: Retro Merry Christmas – £3.50








Baby in brain scan

We owe it to the autism community to base services on world-class research

The value of clinical trials

The key to good services is knowing why they work. In the case of autism, we know very little about what approaches improve outcome for people with autism – outside of every day common sense adaptations. Thus, it is not surprising to find that the autism community rates the innovation of treatments from diagnosis through to adulthood as a key research priority.

The best way to empirically understand whether a treatment works is through a clinical trial. A clinical trial allows for the exclusion of confounding factors which may skew results. An example of a confounding factor is the placebo effect: where an ineffective treatment elicits an improvement (or report of improvement) as there is an expectation that it will be helpful.

Natural development or effective intervention?

Autism is a developmental disability, and research shows that people with autism, like those without autism, generally reach various developmental milestones through childhood. The reaching of these milestones can be claimed as evidence of an effective treatment when they would have naturally occurred anyway.
It’s also important that the aims of a treatment are clearly stated and registered. If not clearly stated, those undertaking the research (academics, clinicians , educationalist, parents, autistic individuals or pharmaceutical companies) can perceive specific improvements as signs of treatment effectiveness when they were, in fact, just random effects.

Effective reporting

Another marker of world-class research practice is reporting. This means that every result of every clinical trial is reported. This can stop an epidemic within research: where only research studies with positive treatment effects are reported – resulting in a publication or reporting bias. That is why Autistica supports AllTrials; a campaign which asks for every clinical trial to be registered and reported.

Making the most of limited resources

The UK only spends approximately £4m/year on autism research, which is minimal when you consider the estimated £32 billion/year cost of autism to the economy in treatment, lost earnings, care and support for children and adults with autism. Given the lack of funds for autism research (particularly in comparison to other medical conditions) it is critically important that every penny dedicated to autism research is spent on the highest quality studies and studies which are based on community priorities.

As John Elder Robison has said, autism research must focus on making improvements in services which can help and support people affected by autism now.

Dr James Cusack, Research Director at Autistica.

Isabel York

Meet the Researcher: Isabel Yorke

Isabel Yorke is one of 4 fellows funded by Autistica at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience as part of our Casting Light on Mental Health project.


What is your research background?

I’m embarking on my PhD after having just completed an MSc at the Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre at King’s College London. emotional symptoms of autism. Before this I spent several years working with young people with autism in education settings.

What attracted you to do research into autism and mental health?

Since working with children and young people with autism in education, I have been intrigued by the condition. I have always been especially struck by the diversity within the group of individuals diagnosed with it, especially in terms of what was holding them back. This has led me to believe that in many, it is the secondary mental health issues associated with autism and not autism itself that may cause the most problems and at the same time be the most treatable. Finding out that this topic was of particular importance to those with autism themselves, has also really attracted me to the field

What are you working on with Autistica?

I’m involved in a project that is gathering data on a variety of environmental factors from a group of children with autism, at various time-points over their childhood and adolescence. Such longitudinal research is very important as it allows us insight into which factors in childhood are important in affecting the mental health outcomes of those with autism, by the time they reach adolescence.

What will your average day involve?

The project is currently in an important wave of data collection, so when I start, I will be meeting families and collaborating with my team on gathering the information required to investigate the variables of interest. This will involve much work before the sessions with families to ensure that everything is set up in such a way that the children and their parents are transitioned smoothly through all the tasks. It will be important to strike a balance between collecting as much valuable data as possible, whilst making the day an enjoyable one for the families who are putting their time and effort into the process too.

Autistica puts families at the heart of everything they do, and this is the reason why we are embarking upon research into mental health: their top priority. How will you involve families and individuals in your research and promote the findings to the wider autism community?

Our research design is based heavily around collecting data from children with autism and their parents, and we wish to keep these families fully informed as to how their data will be used. As well as publishing papers for the scientific community, we want to ensure our findings are made available in a format which is accessible by anyone who is interested, including those with autism and their families. Working with Autistica will be a great help for this aim, as they are experts in providing links between researchers and the autism community.

What impact do you think your research will have on people with autism and mental health issues?

I really hope that by identifying environmental factors which affect mental health outcomes in those with autism, interventions can be developed to change environments which contributing to the onset of disorders such as anxiety and depression. Further, parents, families and schools may be helped to provide environments which tend to promote good mental health, from an early age.

Can you recommend any previous studies that might be relevant for readers who are interested in autism and /or mental health research?

My supervisor, Professor Emily Simonoff, has been involved in tracking the psychiatric well-being of young children with autism and has found evidence that signs of mental health issues can be identified and assessed at an early age. Further developing instruments to assess mental health in young children with autism will aid researchers in understanding how problems unfold and develop over time. For example:

Salazar, F., Baird, G., Chandler, S., Tseng, E., O’sullivan, T., Howlin, P., … Simonoff, E. (2015). Co-occurring Psychiatric Disorders in Preschool and Elementary School-Aged Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. doi:10.1007/s10803-015-2361-5

Simonoff, E., Pickles, A., Charman, T., Chandler, S., Loucas, T., & Baird, G. (2008). Psychiatric disorders in children with autism spectrum disorders: prevalence, comorbidity, and associated factors in a population-derived sample. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 47(8), 921–929. doi:10.1097/CHI.0b013e318179964f

 When you’re not working, what do you enjoy doing?

My passion has always been Irish dancing, which I have done since the age of 9. I am now a qualified teacher and run classes for children and adults! Interestingly, I have been involved in dance clubs at the special needs schools at which I have worked and am very interested in the benefits of music and movement for some people with autism.


Find out more about our mental health project here.
Read about one of our other mental health research fellows here




all trials logo

Autistica signs AllTrials petition

AllTrials is a campaign calling for every clinical trial, to be registered and their results reported.

This call for greater transparency and more accessible information is an initiative that Autistica is proud to support. Currently approximately only half of all clinical trials ever conducted have reported their results, thousands more have never even been registered This lack of access to information could lead to poor decision making surrounding treatment of patients, missed opportunities for new medicine and many trials being needlessly repeated.

At Autistica we expect all trials that we fund to be registered and reported, and will include this as a requirement in all grant awards from now on. Developing treatments to support people on the autistic spectrum from diagnosis through to adulthood is a priority for the autism community. Bearing this in mind we need to ensure that all studies are clearly reported to be able to achieve maximum impact. The information gained from clinical trials being clearly reported and made readily accessible will enable autism research to improve clinical practice as effectively and efficiently as possible.

Autistica is committed to making our science accessible to the autism community. This is why we circulate lay summaries of the findings of our funded studies as widely as possible and why we actively encourage our researchers to do the same. Increased accessibility and availability of the findings from clinical trials will only improve clinical practice which is why Autistica is proud to support the endeavours of the AllTrials campaign.

You can find out more about the AllTrials campaign here: www.alltrials.net

If you wish to pledge your support for this campaign as an individual, you can sign-up here and join in the discussion on the hashtag #AllTrials

ASDUK banner

Latest research demonstrates value and validity of UK-wide autism cohort database

New research published in BMJ Open today confirms that families who participate in research via the UK’s national autism family research database are representative of UK families of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) overall.

This makes the database a valuable foundation on which to build autism research capacity in the UK. The ASD-UK database at Newcastle University, funded by Autistica, the UK’s leading autism research charity, now includes over 1700 families.

Autism researchers often find recruitment to studies challenging, despite more than 80% of families expressing interest in participating in research. As a result, many studies recruit biased samples of participants, at a slower than expected rate, limiting the pace of research and potentially costing research funders more money.

In response to these challenges, Autistica and Newcastle University launched the national Autism Spectrum Database-UK (ASD-UK) in 2011. This was built on the success of Daslne, a regional database of children with ASD in the North East, also funded by Autistica, which to date has registered 1400 children and supported recruitment to 37 studies. The two databases co-ordinate closely and families join one or the other depending on where they live. Thus, researchers can recruit to their studies from over 3000 families currently.

ASD-UK aims to include large numbers of children with ASD and their families, enabling researchers to have faster, better access to potential research participants and allowing families to participate more easily in autism science.

The BMJ Open report published today shows that 1000 families were registered with ASD-UK in 30 months, recruited through 50 UK child health teams and self-referral. Children of families who participated were compared to 208 families who chose not to, and were found to be very similar on gender ratio, year of birth, ASD diagnosis and social deprivation score. The reliability of parent-reported ASD diagnoses of children was very high when compared with clinical reports (over 96%); no database child without ASD was identified. A comparison of gender, ASD diagnosis, age at diagnosis, school placement, learning disability and deprivation score of children and families from ASD-UK with 1084 children and families from Daslne and families from population studies showed that ASD-UK families are representative of families of children with ASD overall.

Lead researcher at Newcastle University, Jeremy Parr, commented on the findings:

“Our partnerships between health and education professionals have been key to the success of ASD-UK, helping us recruit from a broad mix of families who are representative of the diverse autism spectrum. The materials we developed with parents to clearly explain the role of the database have also helped us to recruit families that may have otherwise felt unable to access alienated by research. We now have over 3000 families registered for research so there is enormous potential to increase the quality and quantity of autism studies in the UK.”

Autistica’s CEO Jon Spiers commented:

“We are proud to be funding the team at Newcastle to develop and grow the ASD-UK family database. It’s clear that investment in underpinning projects like this database are fundamental to maintaining the UK’s position as a leading location for autism science. This research highlights in particular the importance of a multidisciplinary, collaborative approach in bridging the gap between researchers and families. We look forward to the results of high quality studies using the database that are in the pipeline for publication later this year.”

A full copy of the report published in BMJ Open on 4 September 2015 can be found here:

F Warnell, B George, H McConachie, M Johnson, R Hardy, J R Parr. Designing and recruiting to UK autism spectrum disorder research databases: do they include representative children with valid ASD diagnoses?

ASD-UK is funded by Autistica and led by Dr Jeremy Parr and Professor Helen McConachie at the Institute of Neuroscience at Newcastle University. The Autism Spectrum-UK homepage lists the other ASD research database for adults and the aforementioned Daslne database.

ASD-UK is the only database of its kind in the UK. In the USA, the Interactive Autism Network (IAN) includes families who have a child with a clinical ASD diagnosis and includes over 45,000 people with ASD, and has supported over 300 research studies. However, the representativeness of IAN families compared with families of people with ASD generally is unknown. There is also a Canadian-American Research Consortium (ASD-CARC), and one based in Western Australia (WA).

You can find out more or sign-up to the adult or child autism databases on the website: autismspectrum-uk.com

Paula Taylor

Meet our new Finance and Administration Manager

Paula Taylor
Finance & Administration Manager

We are pleased to have Paula Taylor join the team as our new Finance and Administration Manager, dealing with our day to day accounts and office management. She will also project manage our Autism: Top Ten Research Priorities James Lind Alliance partnership.

Paula is bringing with her a wealth of experience in bookkeeping and a background in sales and customer service within publishing and the travel industry. She is a trained Accounting Technician and is currently completing an AAT level 4 qualification. She was keen to move into the charity sector having acted as Bookkeeper for an LGBT Switchboard in her hometown of Brighton and as Treasurer for the sexual violence charity Survivors Network. As an active runner and cyclist, Paula has also fundraised for charities in numerous charity challenge events including the London Marathon.

Autistica appealed to Paula due to a personal connection, and she is pleased to support the team to fund research that helps people with autism throughout their lifespan.

We look forward to working with her and seeing the contribution that she makes to the charity.

Jessica-Jane Applegate Paralympic Gold British Autism Autistica Abseil

August newsletter


Latest news from Autistica – August


Top Ten Research Priorities

We are very grateful to everyone who contributed to the James Lind Alliance (JLA) consultation on the AUTISM: TOP TEN RESEARCH PRIORITIES. An amazing 1213 people responded, resulting in 3,331 questions that autism research could address.

23% of respondents were individuals on the autism spectrum, 52% were family members and caregivers and 25% were clinicians and professionals.

Professional groups can be hard to reach but thanks to our strong partner network, we got a good number of responses.

Feedback on the project so far has been very positive: ‘”Very pleased to see the approach you are taking to generating research.”

We are cleaning the data to remove questions already answered by good quality trials, leaving just truly unanswered questions. We will ask you to vote soon on a longlist before a final priority-setting workshop.

More information about the process can be found in the James Lind Alliance Guidebook. You can subscribe to specific TOP TEN update emails here.

First adult self-assessment test for repetetive behaviours in autism

Psychologists, including Sue Leekham from the Autistica-founded Wales Autism Research Centre at Cardiff University, have developed the first self-assessment test designed to help diagnose autism in adults.

Published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, the test measures how adults are affected by repetitive behaviours – one of the core criteria used to diagnose autism.

These behaviours can include lining up objects or arranging them in patterns, fiddling obsessively with objects, or insisting that aspects of a daily routine remain exactly the same.

Researchers say the test is a reliable method of measuring these behaviours to indicate when they are unusually frequent or severe.

The trial showed that while adults without an autism diagnosis showed a high tendency for repetitive behaviours, the individuals with an autism diagnosis consistently scored significantly higher on this measure.

The test on its own cannot diagnose autism but has been designed to help in the diagnostic process.

The next step will be trialling the test on people of all ages with autism before implementing its use in clinics across the UK.

People aged over 18 are encouraged to participate in the research by visiting: http://sites.cardiff.ac.uk/rbq2a/online/.

Call for proposals

Our call for proposals in partnership with the Autism Research Trust has now closed and we have had some excellent submissions for projects researching interventions around the time of diagnosis. Selected applicants have been invited to submit full proposals that will be reviewed as part of our normal review processes. Final decisions on funding will be made by our Scientific Review Panel in February 2016.

Inspiring a new generation of autism researchers

We consider it very important to use the most experienced autism researchers to lead our projects, but also to foster emerging talent so that autism research has a bright future in the UK.

Through our Casting Light on Mental Health research project we are funding four PhD student Fellows, all of whom bring a unique range of experiences and personal motivations. We will be sharing profiles of each of these individuals over the coming months. First is Hannah, who is based at London’s Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience.

Meet the researcher: Hannah Pickard 

“I was particularly attracted to autism and mental health research because I have grown up alongside a brother who has autism and I have seen him struggle with many debilitating mental health issues, including both stress and anxiety. I am passionate about research helping people like him to get effective support.”

Read her full profile or see her speak on our Casting light on mental health film.


Researcher news

If you carry out autism research or are thinking about getting into the field, please get in touch. We are launching a Researcher News bulletin, which will be sent out regularly by email and will include funding opportunities from both Autistica and other bodies, key research papers that have been published, and other news of interest to the research community.

If you don’t think that you are registered with us as a researcher, please email us to be added to the mailing list.  

Tell us your story

Help us highlight the importance of research through your eyes

We are proud of our unique approach to research, where all the work that we do is shaped by the people that we serve. We know how important research is in supporting families, providing better understanding of autism and ultimately improving the quality of lives for all those with autism and their relatives, but we think this message is so much stronger coming directly from the families our research aims to help.

We want to raise the profile of research in the autism community so we need your help to bring this message to life.

Please get in touch if you have a personal connection to autism and can share your story with photographs to express how research could help you.

We will feature some of your stories on our website and keep others on file for media requests – we will always ask you before sharing your story.

Contact Rebecca Sterry, Communications Manager on 05601 188981 or email rebecca.sterry@autistica.org.uk. Please include a phone number when emailing. 

We look forward to hearing from you.

See our stories page, for the families that have shared their experiences already, including Francesca (pictured) talking about her son Tim and her motivations for supporting Autistica’s work around early diagnosis.

Fundraising events

Abseil for autism with a paralympic legend!

We are delighted to announce Jessica-Jane Applegate MBE, British Paralympic gold medal-winning swimmer, is joining Autistica for our charity abseil at the ArcelorMittal Orbit in London’s Olympic Park!

We asked Jessica-Jane to be involved with Autistica’s abseil as we know what a huge inspiration she is for young people and for those on the autism spectrum. Abseiling in a familiar environment for Jessica-Jane, the Olympic Park, is the perfect backdrop for the UK’s highest freefall

Jessica-Jane says “I can’t wait to freefall the ArcelorMittal Orbit to help Autistica raise funds for autism research”.

To secure your place, you can sign-up online. For more information, please do get in touch with the Autistica team on 05601 183 601 or email friends@autistica.org.uk.

Register by Friday for the Royal Parks Half Marathon.

The deadline is fast approaching to register for London’s premier half marathon – the Royal Parks Half Marathon. We have a handful of places left in Britain’s most beautiful city run.

Thousands of supporters turn out for this event every year which starts and finishes in Hyde Park, taking in St James’s Park, Green Park, Kensington Gardens and many magnificent landmarks along the way.

The Half Marathon takes place on Sunday 11 October so there is still plenty of time to prepare. ASICS have great 2 month training plans building up to race day and you can get your own personalised plan here.

By signing up to run the Royal Parks Half Marathon, you’ll also get the amazing benefit of free access to Fitness First gyms every Friday up until the race. This is a great opportunity to mix up your outdoor running with some other cross training, at no cost to you!

The deadline to register is Friday 21 August, so don’t delay! Sign up online

Join the conversation online #raceforautism


RideLondon cycle stars

We want to say a huge thank you to our eight fabulous cyclists who took part in this year’s RideLondon for Autistica. Riding 100 miles on a very hot August day is no mean feat and we are completely in awe of their amazing dedication!

The team raised over £5,800 for autism research, an incredible amount for which we are so grateful. Now give those legs a well-earned rest!

Trusts and foundations

We are grateful to have had recent pledges of support from the following organisations:

  • Alison Hillman Charitable Trust (£5,000)
  • Violet Mauray Charitable Trust (£2,000)
  • Appletree Trust (£1,000)
  • Annett Charitable Trust (£1,000)
  • Doris Field Charitable Trust (£1,000)