Autistic co-led autism research priorities for Aotearoa New Zealand: A partnership with Autistic people, families and whānau, service and support providers and researchers

Status: Current

Māori Relevant Content: Yes


  • Health Research Council (HRC) (HRC Priority Areas, 2021 - 2022)

Project Abstract

This project aimed to determine community priorities for future autism research in Aotearoa New Zealand.

In 2021, we gathered opinions from the Autistic and autism communities through two phases.

Phase one (May–Aug 2021). People from the Autistic and the autism communities took part in focus groups and talked about their priorities for future autism research.

Phase two (Nov–Dec 2021). We gathered community opinions on autism research via an online survey. The online survey was open to Autistic people, and the autism community, living in Aotearoa New Zealand.

We shared the findings from this project in community report and a webinar. You can find links to both of these under the heading 'resources'.

The full report can be downloaded from the following DOI link:

Meet the project team.
Lisa Marie Emerson, Senior Lecturer, University of Canterbury, and a Senior Clinical Psychologist. My research is about supporting the mental health and wellbeing of young people and their families, including the use of mindfulness.

Ruth Monk, Autistic researcher and member of the Autism New Zealand Community Advisory Group. I am involved in several autism research projects and initiatives in Aotearoa New Zealand as an advisor and researcher.

Larah van der Meer, Research and Advocacy Advisor, Autism New Zealand, and Adjunct Research Fellow, Victoria University of Wellington. I am involved in research and advocacy to support the Autistic and autism communities.

Laurie McLay, Associate Professor, School of Health Sciences, University of Canterbury. My research focuses on health-promoting behaviours, social communication and behaviour in children on the autism spectrum.

For this project we established the Autistic Partnership Aotearoa New Zealand, which is made up of two advisory groups. The Autistic Advisory Group (AAG) includes Autistic adults from the community. The Partnership Advisory Group includes representatives from the AAG, parents, practitioners, Autism organisations, and researchers. They met regularly with the project team to discuss methods of data collection and interpretation.

Researchers - UC Staff

Researchers - Non-UC Staff

  • Larah van der Meer: Associate Investigator; Autism New Zealand

Subject Area: Disciplines