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Parents and carers of autistic children needed for stigma-breaking research

Parents and carers of autistic children living in Bedfordshire are being invited to take part in a unique and pioneering research trial at the University of Bedfordshire focused on autism stigma and mental health among parents and carers.

The trial, which will be carried out by PhD student Annemarie Lodder from the University’s Institute for Health Research, will focus on helping to support parents’ and carers’ mental health through helping them to understand and reject the many misconceptions and negative stereotypes that exist about autism.

Anyone who lives in or near Bedfordshire and provides care for a child up to ten-years-old who has been diagnosed with an autistic spectrum disorder in the last 12 months, or expected to receive a diagnosis soon, is welcome to join the study.

Annemarie said: “Parental wellbeing is vital for family life and parents’ caregiving abilities, in particular for parents and carers of autistic children. The wellbeing of parents and carers is often overlooked which this study aims to address.”

The findings of the research will be used to develop and evaluate the first ever ‘stigma protection intervention’ for autism carers.

Annemarie’s supervisor, Principal Lecturer in Public Health Dr Chris Papadopoulos, said: “The evidence surrounding parental mental health during and after their child has been diagnosed as autistic paints a very concerning picture of distress, anxiety and fear for the future. Much of this is rooted in the stigma associated with autism which our research trial tries to tackle and in doing so represents something ground-breaking and should create real impact.”

The trial, called ‘Stigma of Living as an Autism Carer: a brief psycho-social support intervention’ (SOLACE), is funded by autism research charity Autistica, with support from charity Autism Bedfordshire and Luton Council.

Find out more about the study and how to register for your place by visiting: