POST briefing note on autism

Ella Rhodes reports.

A briefing document produced by last year’s winner of the joint BPS and Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) postgraduate award has now been published. Margaret Laurie’s note covers information about autism and its prevalence, co-occurring conditions, interventions and support, legislation and policy, and the provision of services for autistic people.

The award gives postgraduate students the opportunity to work alongside the POST to produce a concise and evidence-based document on psychological topics for MPs and peers. In her note Laurie, a PhD student in clinical brain sciences at the University of Edinburgh, also pointed to evidence that autistic people have the lowest employment rates of all disability groups. ‘Many autistic people can and do work, but face barriers in employers’ understanding of autism and lack of reasonable adjustments. The Department of Work and Pensions and the Autism Alliance produced an Autism and Neurodiversity Toolkit, which promotes awareness and understanding of autism and other neurodevelopmental conditions in the workplace. Research suggests that tailored support can reduce pre-university anxiety and improve graduate employment.’

Laurie said she was grateful for the three months she spent at POST learning about how scientific research is used in policy settings and has taken that knowledge back to Edinburgh speaking with colleagues about how to make their research more accessible to policy makers. ‘My PhD is about autism, so it was a great opportunity to take a step back and think about broader implications of my work, and I got to meet and interview some fantastic researchers and advocates whose work I’ve been following for years.

It was great to learn about new topics I haven’t quite studied before (like genetics!) and I relived the thrill of starting and finishing a project in only a couple of months… I cannot oversell the placement opportunities at POST in the slightest – it was challenging, invigorating, rewarding and unforgettable.’

Applications for the 2020 award will open in June, please see for more information and to apply.

To download a pdf of Laurie’s note please see:

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