One of the most important research initiatives involving Autism Experts, that is, Autistics, is the Academic Autistic Spectrum Partnership in Research and Education, AASPIRE.
AASPIRE's mission is concrete, rather than speculation-focused. Team members actually do work together as equals (I participated on the team for a short while and observed the process that was developed to ensure that all members have access to information in ways that they can understand, sensitive attention to communication differences between members, and a focus research projects that will make a difference in people's lives). AASPIRE's mission:
-To encourage the inclusion of people on the autism spectrum in matters which directly affect them.
-To include people on the autism spectrum as equal partners in research about the autism spectrum.
-To answer research questions that are considered relevant by the autistic community.
-To use research findings to effect positive change for people on the spectrum
From AASPIRE's website: "The Academic Autistic Spectrum Partnership In Research and Education (AASPIRE) brings together the academic community and the autistic community to develop and perform research projects relevant to the needs of adults on the autism spectrum. Our partnership adheres to the principles of Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR or PAR), whereby academics and community members serve as equal partners throughout the research process."
In addition, "...there has been little focus on how to improve the lives of adults on the autism spectrum. Adults on the spectrum are not usually included as resources or partners in autism research, despite having a wealth of information, experience, insight, and skills to offer."
To learn more about AASPIRE, and how you might get involved, please go to the AASPIRE website.