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Ambitious Youth Participation Manager awarded prestigious fellowship for autism research
Thursday 07 March 2019

Ambitious Youth Participation Manager awarded prestigious fellowship for autism research

Emily Niner, 25, who manages Ambitious about Autism’s youth participation programme, including the Ambitious Youth Network and Youth Council, has been awarded a fellowship from the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust. 

She will carry out a six-week research project in Australia and New Zealand later this year to identify best practice in post-diagnostic resources and support services for autistic teenagers. Emily has been chosen out of almost 1,800 applicants to become one of 150 Churchill Fellows this year. 

Her research will look at three different areas of post-diagnosis support – social groups and peer support, one to one support and online resources. She will visit organisations providing this support in Australia and New Zealand to understand how it could be replicated in the UK.  

Emily said: “For young people in the UK seeking support for a newly received autism diagnosis, or who want more information about a diagnosis made in childhood – there are sadly have very limited opportunities to access help and advice.  The young people I work with tell us that this lack of support is hugely damaging - causing many young autistic people to misunderstand – and even resent – their diagnosis. 
“There is very little research on this topic in the UK, so my research trip abroad will enable me to identify best practice and share my findings with our Youth Patrons – with the long-term hope of creating a positive and practical resource that will support young people at a crucial time in their lives.”

Jolanta Lasota, Chief Executive of Ambitious about Autism, said: “Emily is a tireless advocate for autistic children and young people and we’re thrilled she has received this prestigious fellowship for such a vital research project.  

“Emily applied to undertake this important work in direct response to concerns about post diagnosis support raised by our Youth Patrons and we hope that this research will drive forward improvements that will lead to better outcomes for autistic young people in the UK –enabling a successful and happy transition into adulthood.”  

The Churchill Fellowships are a unique programme of overseas research grants that support UK citizens to travel the world researching a topic of their choice among global leaders in their field, which is then shared with professions and communities upon their return.