We want to understand how our work impacts the quality of life and outcomes for autistic children and young people and their families. That is why we evaluate our services to consider the impact that we make.
We also want to make sure that everything we do involves autistic children and young people and is based on evidence of the best approaches. To do this we sometimes commission new research. Students and universities often approach us to take part in studies involving autistic children and young people, parents and carers or staff.
Ambitious about Autism Research Governance Committee
To make sure that all of our research is ethical, all evaluations, commissioned research and speculative approaches need to be approved by Ambitious about Autism's Research Governance Committee.
Our Research Governance Committee ensures that any research undertaken or supported by Ambitious about Autism is in line with our organisational strategy, values, policies and ethical standards for research. We also disseminate and champion research findings and identify and work collaboratively with partners.
Our Research Governance Committee is made up of staff from across each of our education services who have experience of research and is chaired by the Director of External Affairs. Where appropriate, we also seek advice from external research and evaluation experts and ensure that there is no conflict of interest in our decision-making.
In assessing ethical considerations we follow the British Educational Research Association (BERA) ethical guidelines for educational research and the Social Research Association ethical guidelines, alongside any applications that have been made to other ethics committees to undertake the research, for example, university ethics committees.
Our research governance process adheres to our organisational values:
Children and young people with autism are at the heart of what we do - will the research make a worthwhile contribution to what we know about working with autistic children and young people or improve their lives? How will the research care for the needs of those children before, during and after the research? What will the researcher do in the case of a safeguarding concern? Can children and young people with autism make a complaint about the research?
We are ambitious - will the research advance our knowledge and understanding? Will it make a difference to our work in future?
We are team players - are the researchers collaborative and inclusive in their approach? Do they take a participatory approach to their research with children and young people? How will they give all autistic children and young people a chance to have their voices heard? What will children, young people, parents, carers or staff gain from taking part?
We are open - is the research inclusive? Are the researchers clear about why they are doing the research? How will researchers get consent and ensure people are aware participation is voluntary?
We value difference - does the research respect the dignity, autonomy, equality and diversity of participants? Is recruitment and selection inclusive and diverse? How are researchers accommodating communication and language difficulties? How do they plan to engage children whose behaviour is different?
We are experts - is the research likely to contribute to Ambitious about Autism's expertise? How will researchers share their findings? Will the research inform practice and improve outcomes?