Embracing the voices of people with autism: a participatory study


  • Karen Coney Liverpool John Moores University, Student Futures
  • Jack Fitzpatrick Liverpool John Moores University, Student Futures




A recent study of the destinations of graduates found that of all disabled graduates, autistic individuals are least likely to be employed (Allen & Coney 2021). Unfortunately, these findings are widely recognised in literature (Vincent 2020, Remington & Pellicano 2019).  The disappointing outcomes for autistic graduates in the UK highlight the way in which these individuals are in danger of being marginalised.     


In this session, a careers practitioner and a student will outline the participatory activities and study conducted here at LJMU which explored how to provide effective careers and employability support for autistic students.  Understanding that in order to create such support, it would be important to involve the intended recipients, the careers practitioner recruited volunteers to act as consultants. These autistic student consultants were engaged in all stages of the project, from analysing an initial survey of all autistic students in the University, to co-designing the careers-related activities, to evaluating the effectiveness of these activities.     


This participatory method not only provided the careers practitioner with real insights into what provision to include in the future, but also had a transformational impact on some of the student consultants and others involved.  In addition to the creation of a community, there are signs of a ‘ripple effect’ within the university, as those students and staff involved continue to seek to make courageous and positive changes for the sake of autistic students and disabled students as a whole.