To mark the launch of the Autism & Homelessness toolkit, Dr Alasdair Churchard writes this blog explaining what led to him conducting research in this area.
My interest in autism and homelessness comes from my experience of working with people experiencing homelessness, and research I have carried out as a clinical psychologist.
Before becoming a psychologist I was a keyworker in homelessness services for several years, mainly in quite large hostels for single homeless men. One of my aims in leading the development of the Autism & Homelessness Toolkit was to create something which I would have found useful when I was a frontline worker.
When I was choosing my research project as a trainee clinical psychologist I was offered the chance to do some work around autism and homelessness, as a professional in the autism field had identified that this was an area which needed further exploration. It is well established that autistic people are much more likely to experience significant social disadvantage, so I was surprised there was no peer-reviewed research published in academic journals about potential links between autism and homelessness. Autistic people have poor outcomes in a number of areas which are known to increase the risk of homelessness: 79% of autistic adults have had a mental health condition during their life, only one third are in some form of paid employment, and sustainable housing is a major issue. Given this it seemed probable that autistic people are at higher risk of homelessness, but beyond some small-scale studies this had not been investigated in any great depth. […]
Dr Alasdair Churchard Monday, 1 April 2019 – 11:14am