Autistica is inviting research proposals for their social care development awards 2022, which enable researchers to develop high quality research proposals to submit to the National Institute for Health and Care Research's (NIHR) Research for Social Care Call (RfSC).

Projects will focus on important, under-researched areas of social care provision accessed by or impacting autistic adults and will help researchers to refine and strengthen RfSC proposal ideas, plans and objectives. The awards and Autistica’s partnership with NIHR aim to address the substantial lack of evidence guiding autism social care provision in England. In doing so, we aim to develop and establish social care practices that are supportive, accessible and beneficial to autistic adults across the lifespan. We encourage applicants to review Autistica’s 2030 goals to leverage opportunities.

Awards funding
Autistica are funding two to four projects, each up to a value of £10,000. This grant funding will cover direct costs associated with research expenses, materials and dissemination of outputs, but will not cover indirect costs related to existing salaries or estates costs.

Awards duration

Proposals should plan for a programme of work spanning six months, culminating in an application to the 2022/2023 RfSC call. Applicants must provide clear justification for the staff time allocated to project activities so to demonstrate that they can develop a strong RfSC research proposal within the timeframe.

Who can apply?

Autistica are keen to encourage novel ideas from researchers from a range of backgrounds, including early career researchers who have the support of an experienced, multidisciplinary team. Additionally, the lead investigator must:

  • Hold a PhD or similar qualification (applicants must have been awarded their PhD by the start of the proposed work).
  • Be based at an eligible UK institution (Higher Education, Public sector, non-academic Health and/or social care facility).
  • Hold continuous employment with the host organisation for the duration of the award.

Please note, while proposals will be accepted from investigators at institutions within the UK, they must develop RfSC proposals for projects based at institutions within England.

Download the full application pack (PDF download)

Project partnerships

Autistica have developed relationships with several organisations eager to work in partnership on autism and social care research projects. Where relevant, we encourage applicants to engage with these organisations and to explore the value and benefit potential partnerships could bring to their proposed projects. The organisations include:


The UK’s largest social care provider, with autism, learning disabilities, acquired brain injury, and mental health support services.

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Community Integrated Care (CIC)

A leading social care charity, CIC provide support services across the UK in a range of settings and for a range of people, including autistic people and people with learning disabilities.

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The PDA Society

A charity providing support, information and training on pathological demand avoidance (PDA) to individuals, families and professionals. The organisation is also committed to improving outcomes for PDA individuals through engagement and involvement in high quality research.

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The National Autistic Society (NAS)

The UK’s largest autism organisation, providing schools, services and training, and guiding national policy and campaigns.

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Areas of interest

To highlight research priorities relating to autism and social care, Autistica held a social care summit involving autistic people, researchers, and social care professionals and commissioners. While we encourage applicants to draw from these priorities, we also recognise that there are manifold issues affecting autistic people accessing social care, and so welcome ideas where a need or issue requires greater research attention.


  • May 3rd 2022 – June 17th 2022 Application period
  • June 20nd 2022 – 17th July 2022 Review period
  • August 2022 – Projects begin
  • September 2022 – NIHR RfSC call opens for applications
  • January 2023 – NIHR RfSC call closes

Application process

All applications must be made through the Autistica Grant Platform by Midnight, June 20th 2022. Any questions or queries can be directed to Autistica’s Research and Partnerships Manager, Dr Ned Redmore

These Social Care Development Awards and Autistica’s NIHR partnership is made possible with generous support from CareTech Foundation