I started my research career as a research assistant at Newcastle University, and my first project was to test the psychometric validity of the WHO’s Quality of Life questionnaire with autistic adults. I followed on from this by investigating how to measure anxiety in autistic adults by adapting a validated measure of anxiety for autistic children. Finally, I was working on a study looking at the physical health of autistic adults, and ways to increase access to healthcare for physical health problems.
From this, I developed an interest in autism research, and I opted to pursue a project looking at ageing in autism – an area where there is very little research. Specifically, I am conducting a longitudinal follow-up of a cohort of older autistic people, and I will look at measures of cognitive, language, and behaviour as well as self-reported measures of quality of life, decision making, and mental health.
As part of my PhD, I have undertaken some PPI consultation groups with autistic people. This has been around two issues relevant to my project. First, I held one group to discuss what measures are relevant to older autistic people (i.e. quality of life, decision-making style, autistic identity). Second, I held one group to discuss what a “good outcome” is for an autistic person, and if this changes as autistic people age. I have included people via Zoom, with face-to-face discussions and via e-mail, so as to include those autistic people who prefer to use written communication.
So far, I have published one research paper from my PhD titled “A Meta-analysis of Outcome Studies of Autistic Adults: Quantifying Effect Size, Quality, and Meta-regression”, which I co-authored with my supervisors and other PhD students. I also published several papers from my time at Newcastle University (https://www.researchgate.net/profile/David-Mason-14/research ).