AFK photoThe Autism Research Cooperation (AFK) is an association of adults on the autism spectrum and autism researchers of the Humboldt University zu Berlin.

Aims

The aim of the AFK is to explore subjects that are relevant to people on the autism spectrum in collaboration with scientists.

People with autism and Asperger syndrome within the AFK decide which research questions are worth being asked and undertaken as projects. Moreover, they are actively involved in the planning, implementation and evaluation of research studies. By writing research papers, partaking in scientific discussions as well as printing information material for the public, we hope to contribute to increasing the quality of life of autistic people in the long run. We also offer advice and consultation to other research groups that want to conduct studies with people with autism.

History

Although the parents of children with autism have played a more active role in the public and research on autism in recent years, until recently, there weren’t any cooperations between adults with autism and the research community. As a result, adults in the autism spectrum have often not perceived scientific research endeavors as reflecting their interests and sometimes adopted a negative attitude towards them.
In 2007 the AFK took up these concerns and started to work on scientific issues in a collaboration with autistic people and autism researchers. The focus was set on issues that reflect autistic people in their everyday life.

In solely honorary research work - occasionally supported by awards and donations - numerous research projects have already been successfully put into practice:
The AFK's first study explored knowledge and prejudices about autism among Jobcenter employees in Berlin.

In 2010, the AFK examined the knowledge of autism and the extent of negative estimation of autism-typical behaviors among general practitioners.

Also you can receive a copy of the short film "Creating Knowledge" made in 2010, in which video recordings of the AFK activities from the first two years of our work and short interviews give an insight into our research group. For charitable performances, you can request a copy. We recommend a donation of 20 €. Just ask us!

In 2011, the AFK addressed the question of whether teachers know enough about autism to address the specific needs of their students in the autism spectrum.

In 2012, the focus of the research group was on autistic "flow experiences" in the context of special interests, i.e. the effortless maintenance of attention over long periods of time.

In 2015, the AFK examined the experiences and needs of people with autism in outpatient psychotherapy, e.g., concerning the circumstances of the setting of the treatment or the qualification of the therapist, as well as the satisfaction with already received psychotherapy in a large nationwide online survey.

In 2017, the AFK carried out a nationwide survey of outpatient psychotherapists. For example, we inquired how much experience German therapists have with autistic patients, how they assess their level of knowledge and competence in treating people with autism and to what extent they are interested in advanced education on this topic.

Extensive questionnaires were drawn up in all these projects, target groups were identified throughout Germany, participants were recruited and the collected data evaluated together. The results are regularly presented and discussed in symposia such as the Wissenschaftlichen Tagung Autismus-Spektrum (WTAS) or the Kongress der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Psychiatrie, Psychotherapie und Nervenheilkunde (DGPPN).

Our study results are also prepared in the form of information flyers for the respective target groups (e.g., general practitioners, teachers, psychotherapists) and passed on to interested people throughout Germany. You can also download our flyers (here: information material) any time!
Other projects, such as, for example, a study on the effects of self-help groups are in progress.