Autistic Advisory Group (UK)

Jack Welch
Jack is excited to act as a representative for both the STRATA PPI advisory group and its Trial Management Group, where he ensures the views of autistic experiences are reflected in the development of this study. Currently, Jack is Chair of Mencap’s Voices Council, and sits as a member of NHS England’s Learning Disability and Autism advisory group. Jack is co-author of the ‘Know Your Normal’ research, which was co-produced by the Centre for Research in Autism and Education (CRAE) and Ambitious about Autism. More recently, he has become an autistic advisor for the National Autistic Society. He also has additional roles with the Council for Disabled Children, and is part of Autistica’s Insight Group. He enjoys reading, walks along the coast, and tweeting from time to time!

Sarah Douglas
Sarah was diagnosed with autism at 42, which she says has proved to be the meaning of life for her, particularly in the last few years since the research charity Autistica has given her opportunities to use her lived autistic experience in the field. As well as being a PPI member for STRATA, Sarah has been an autism advisor for other research study teams at Bristol, Edinburgh, and Nottingham Universities and has also led recent seminars at Aberdeen University, and for the Education Psychology Undergraduates at Bristol. Sarah is also studying to be an autism-specialist counsellor, and is co-authoring a book on autism and relationships. In addition, Sarah works part time as an Healthcare Assistant in an endoscopy unit. Sarah is keen to decrease medical access inequalities for autistic patients, and is writing an online autism CPD course for her colleagues at the endoscopy unit. Sarah says that she gets bored easily, and when she’s not working, can be found rocking out to Rammstein, sewing, cooking, singing, and designing interiors, whilst awaiting the reopening of much-missed theatres and live music venues.

Sarah O’Brien
Sarah has extensive experience of working with universities across the country to support participatory research methods for research questions impacting the lives of autistic people. Sarah started her research studying at the University of Reading, and volunteering with local charities and in clinical settings. Currently, she works with autistic young people for a national charity, helping them to get their voices heard, and supporting them to participate in the activities and campaigns they lead. Sarah’s role also includes amplifying the voice of autistic people in the policy-making. Having experienced anxiety, Sarah is passionate about finding the answers to support other autistic people who may struggle with anxiety and other conditions that can co-occur with autism.

Peter Hale
Peter got involved in health research due to a background as a full time University of the West of England (UWE) researcher and part time PhD student in computing. Peter has anxiety and depression, and so has lived experience relevant to STRATA. When health problems were stopping him from getting opportunities to continue in research, the NHS and health faculties at UWE and the University of Bristol involved him in research, including STRATA. Peter has also held other roles as a rep, inspections, and in commissioning for 10 years. These roles have all involved being trained to make use of lived experience to benefit others. Peter describes himself as a systematic researcher who thrives on dealing with complex issues.

Amy Walker
Amy Walker describes herself as a neurodivergent and disabled changemaker, with diagnoses including autism, dyslexia, and dyspraxia. Amy works as Inclusion and Diversity Coordinator at GroupM, part of WPP. She runs Neurodiversity Works, a campaign and hub for neurodiversity-friendly employment, which she set up as part of the Scope for Change disability campaigning training scheme. As part of her campaigning, she takes regular public speaking engagements, in the last year speaking at the House of Lords, IBM, British Psychological Society, and the Civil Service. She consults on the accessibility and user-experience of a range of interventions such as clinical trials, apps, and websites, and is a researcher on a forthcoming study into Post 16 support for autistic people under the Children and Families act for the Department for Education. She has also recently consulted on Universal Music’s Creative Differences neurodiversity handbook, and on the British Interactive Media Association’s Inclusion in Tech report. She currently serves as a member of the advisory board for the Discover Autism Research Employment (DARE) autism employment research project with University College London’s Centre for Research in Autism and Education (CRAE) and Autistica, and for the Royal Borough Kingston-upon-Thames local authority Autism Strategy. She was recently named by the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising on their inclusion practitioners list, the I-List, to recognise her work within the industry.