Autistic people need a greater say in where NZ’s autism research funding is spent – here’s a way forward

Autistic people need a greater say in where NZ's autism research funding is spent – here’s a way forward

Shutterstock Research has tremendous potential to help the estimated 93,000 autistic New Zealanders live the lives they want to live. The trouble is, funding for autism research is currently skewed away from the areas autistic people themselves say would be most useful. When asked what future autism research should be prioritised , autistic people and autism communities often point to the need for support and services in education, health and well-being across all ages. Yet we found a staggering two-thirds of funding for autism research awarded in Aotearoa New Zealand has been invested in projects that seek to understand biological differences associated with autism. By contrast, 32% of total funding was invested in research into support for autistic people. There was no investment in research aimed at maximising the quality of life of autistic people by addressing the accessibility and quality of services, or into the needs of autistic people as they age. Biology bias Within Aotearoa there are multiple perspectives on autism. According to a Western viewpoint, it’s a neuro-developmental condition characterised by differences in the way people think, how they perceive the world and how they process social information, including communication and interaction with others. Indigenous understandings […]

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