World Autism Acceptance Week 2023: Missing People’s research on missing and autism

This World Autism Acceptance Week, Missing People is pleased to be launching the start of a research project exploring the links between autism and missing.  

While there is anecdotal information about the links between autism and missing, there is very little research about how autism may influence people to go missing, and what autistic people may experience while missing. There is also very little understanding about what support autistic people may need while missing and when they return from being missing.  

We are carrying out this research to understand the experiences and needs of autistic people who: 

  • Are thinking about going missing 
  • Are away from home or care 
  • Have returned to home or care after being missing  

The research will help inform our campaigning and advocacy work, as well as improve the services we offer to autistic people and their family members. We also work closely with the police and can make recommendations around how they investigate missing episodes involving autistic people.   

In this project we plan to:  

  • Conduct some exploratory interviews with professionals, including policing partners, to gather their experiences of autistic people going missing  
  • Conduct a wider survey with professionals exploring their understanding of the links between autism and missing  
  • Conduct primary research with people with autism to explore their experiences of being missing, and crucially to explore the support they may have wanted or needed which might have prevented the missing episode, or any support that was or would have been impactful at the point of return  

We appreciate that like all people, autistic people will have a wide range of needs, preferences and vulnerabilities. We’re also aware that other factors, like age, will have an effect on people’s experience of missing.  We will explore the range of different experiences where possible, including variations between adults and children. 

Learn more

If you are interested in learning more about this research or in taking part, please contact 

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