Hello, my name is Marc Fabri and I am a lecturer and researcher at Leeds Beckett University, a university in the north of England. I am project leader for IMAGE.
My first introduction to autism research was during PhD studies around 2002 when research colleagues explored the use of technology to support students on the autism spectrum with their education. More recently I led the EU-funded Autism&Uni project (2013-2016, link to www.autism-uni.org) which created resources to help autistic students during the transition into university.
The IMAGE project builds on this by focusing on the next major transition point: from university into employment. IMAGE brings together researchers and practitioners from 5 European institutions: Helsinki University, the ATHENA Institute at Free University Amsterdam, Medical School Berlin, University of Toulouse and Leeds Beckett University as project leader.
We know that employment rates are alarmingly low. IMAGE is about supporting autistic students to appreciate and demonstrate their strengths to employers. Too often, academic support is couched in a deficit model, looking at barriers and challenges and how these must be adjusted. This becomes problematic when trying to present skills and strengths to employers.
Over the next 3 years we will identify what helps and hinders autistic graduates from securing employment and what universities can do to prepare their students better. We will help higher education institutions across Europe to share their good practice, work with employers so that they can appreciate and identify skills and strengths in autistic recruits, and provide employability tools and resources to autistic students.
Please come back for future blog posts from the project team and special guests, where we will introduce people involved with the project, share our news and encourage discussion.