The recruitment of Autism Representatives for AIMS-2-TRIALS is now complete. In total, 96 applicants from 18 European countries (and one from the US) expressed interest in working with us. This included autistic people and family carers of autistic people. There were applicants with a wealth of experience in autism organisations in their respective countries, those with experience in research consultation as well as those who were willing to get involved with little prior experience.
The selection process began with the members of the Autism Representatives Steering Committee independently scoring the applications in an anonymized way to avoid bias. Wherever possible, each application was reviewed by at least 2-3 people. However, the choices were not based on scores alone. The committee also considered broad geographical representation to be important, and made a decision to include representatives from as many countries as possible. We also aimed for balance in terms of gender, age and autistic vs family member perspectives. No applications were received from people with intellectual disability, so to ensure the voices of this group were represented, four additional people were recruited by AIMS-2-TRIALS Communications Team via a local UK organisation for autistic people with intellectual disabilities.
The final Autism Representative Group consists of 41 people, eight of whom are steering committee members. We decided to increase the size of the steering committee to eight with a minimum involvement of five members to facilitate decisions being made in a timely manner. The final group consists of a mixture of the above with representation across age, gender, country, prior experience and intellectual ability.
Now that the Autism Representatives group is finalised, we will be organising our specific discussion groups in the coming months. The final selection is a result of discussion and compromise. We are all aware that many brilliant people who could have made positive contributions were not selected, and we have all been impressed by the skills and enthusiasm expressed in the applications. For those who were not been selected as an Autism Representative, the AIMS-2-TRIALS Communications Team invite you to stay involved by joining our mailing list to be informed of future research participation and involvement opportunities. Details for joining this list will be available soon on the Autism Representatives page.