About the project


Changing the Face of Autism Research Together is an initiative to bring together autistic people and scientists to share ideas and influence the research agenda. 21 participants worked with an artist and a podcaster to create a series of thought-provoking portraits and conversations, which are showcased here. The project is funded by the Wellcome Trust and the NIHR Maudsley Biomedical Research Centre.

The aim of the project is to establish a dialogue between researchers and the autistic community so that future studies on autism are influenced by the views, priorities and input of autistic people.

As part of the project, 21 people agreed to work with artist Mario Ruiz Sorube to create a unique self portrait. Each person added images, colour and text to a digital portrait of themselves to express their personality and illustrate the things most important to them. This creative process was captured in a two-minute animation for each participant. In addition, autistic podcaster Jon Adams recorded conversations with those taking part throughout the process.

The portraits and a selection of the animations and podcasts were showcased during a series of engagement events hosted at the Science Gallery London at London Bridge, culminating in a public viewing on World Autism Awareness Day 2019 (Tuesday 2 April). More than 50 researchers and autistic people came together to share perspectives and learn from each other. One session invited 30 schoolchildren to explore what is meant by the term ‘neurodiversity’, and invited them to redesign their classroom to make it more welcoming for all. 

The portraits and podcasts were the foundation for a round table discussion on the topic of how science can best serve the community, and how people can work together to create an open and inclusive environment. A podcast of this discussion was played at a special event in the exhibition space, where attendees from the autistic and scientific communities were encouraged to think about the future of autism research in the UK.