INSAR Autistic Researchers Committee
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Statement on Black Lives Matter:

The Autistic Researchers Committee (ARC) of INSAR stands behind Black Lives Matter. We support transformational and sustainable change through the movement for liberation. Vulnerability to the hurtful consequences of racism is heightened for those living at the intersections of race, gender, and disabilities. This issue is our issue. Our fight for Black rights, disability rights, and human rights comes from lived experiences within our committee. We too imagine a world free of anti-Blackness, a world where being Black and thriving are synonymous.

- INSAR Autistic Researchers Committee, June 26, 2020
Patrick Dwyer, TC Waisman, Dena L. Gassner, Jac den Houting, Steven Kapp,
Brett Ranon Nachman, Dora M. Raymaker, Stephen Mark Shore, Zack Williams,
Christina Nicolaidis, Kristen Gillespie-Lynch, John Elder Robison, Cheryl Dissanayake

Read the INSAR Board of Directors and Dr. Brian Boyd's Statements HERE

In January 2020, The International Society for Autism Research (INSAR) unanimously appointed its inaugural Autistic Researchers Committee.

While many autistic persons and allies have been championing research informed by autistic lives, this marks the first organized and recognized effort to directly involve autistic researchers in contributing to the course of autism research.

The aims of the Autistic Researchers Committee : 

  • Better integrate autistic members into INSAR programs;
  • Foster scientific career development for autistic autism researchers;
  • Create opportunities for autistic scientists to offer their insights to all autistic researchers and fellow colleagues;
  • Make INSAR conferences more accommodating and welcoming for autistic members and attendees; and
  • Promote the inclusion of and consideration of issues important to autistic people in INSAR meetings and in autism research across the sciences, social sciences, humanities, education, and other disciplines; and
  • Advise the INSAR Board on issues important to autistic people.

Autism Training developed for INSAR 2020

Committee Activities:

INSAR 2020 Virtual: Autistic Researchers Committee (ARC) Workshop August 18 & 19, 2020 More Info...

Meet the Autistic Researchers Committee

Patrick Dwyer (he/him)

PhD Student, UC Davis (Co-Chair)

Patrick is an autistic PhD candidate in psychology at the University of California, Davis. His research focuses on sensory processing (including unisensory processing, multisensory processing, and sensory sensitivity) and attention in autism. Patrick uses electrophysiology, eye-tracking, and questionnaires to investigate these constructs. He also maintains a blog that he uses to write about autism and neurodiversity:








TC Waisman (she/her)

EdD Candidate, University of Calgary (Co-Chair)

Diagnosed at 48-years-old which resulted in changes to her career path. TC is currently completing her doctoral degree in leadership, policy, and governance at the University of Calgary with a research focus on how higher education leaders, faculty, and staff can enhance services and outcomes for autistic students in higher education. Under the guidance of Dr. Kristen Gillespie-Lynch, she is the primary author of a study on universal design (UD) autism training for faculty in higher education. TC runs workshops on ‘neurodiversity in the university’ and designs autism specific training for post-secondary institutions. TC has spoken on the topic of being late diagnosed for Story Collider and Spectrum News and written on the topic of autism and higher education. She has been a certified leadership coach since 1998 and has trained and coached thousands of leaders in large organizations within healthcare, education, and environmental services. She is an Indigenous South Pacific Islander living in Canada with her husband Dean and their adult daughter Sunshine. TC sits on the board of Autism in Adulthood and is proud to serve the autistic community on the Autistic Researchers Committee.






Dena L. Gassner (she/her)

PhD Candidate, Adelphi University; Adjunct  Faculty, Towson University; National Board Member for The Arc US

Dena Gassner is an Adjunct Professor for Towson University while working on her dissertation focusing on accessing Social Security Disability services for autistic persons, utilizing a systems navigation approach (Adelphi University). She is on the Board of Directors for The Arc US where she has worked with the Policy team for 5 years and where she has chaired (now co-chairs as she hands the gavel over) the National Council of Self-Advocates. She has consulted for the NYU NEST Program and their London campus. She recently served via appointment to the Washington DC/Atlanta based NIH Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) Workgroup targeting health care disparities in autism. For the United Nations, she has presented on autism and women, and autistic women and motherhood (both New York and Geneva). Her redesign of the formatting of SIG meetings at INSAR has been widely adopted by most presenters, seeking to obtain information from colleagues and foster collaborative working teams. Other notable presentations have included Stoney Brook University, Fonden Samrådet (Denmark), World Autistic Organization International Congress, Autism Europe, OCALICON, Mt. Sinai and Columbia University. She has multiple published journal articles and another book chapter in press (A Spectrum of Solutions for Clients with Autism, 2020, Routledge).






Jac den Houting (they/them)

Postdoctoral Research Associate, Macquarie University

Dr. Jac den Houting is a research psychologist and Autistic activist in pursuit of social justice. Jac currently holds the role of Postdoctoral Research Associate at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, working alongside Professor Elizabeth Pellicano. In 2015, Jac was awarded an Autism CRC scholarship to complete their PhD through the Autism Centre of Excellence at Griffith University in Brisbane. In 2019, Jac made their TEDx debut with a viral talk that has accrued more than 300,000 views. Prior to their research career, Jac gained almost 10 years’ experience as a psychologist in the criminal justice system, with the Queensland Police Service and Queensland Corrective Services. 

Jac was identified as Autistic at the age of 25, and is proudly neurodivergent and queer. After participating in the inaugural Future Leaders Program at the 2013 Asia Pacific Autism Conference, Jac quickly became established as a strong advocate for the Autistic community. Jac is the current Secretary of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network of Australia and New Zealand (ASAN-AuNZ), and a member of Aspect’s LGBTQIA+ Advisory Committee and Advisory Council.





Steven Kapp (he/him)

Lecturer, University of Portsmouth

Dr. Steven Kapp is a Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Portsmouth in the UK. He completed a postdoctoral research fellowship on the Wellcome Trust-funded project Exploring Diagnosis: Autism and Neurodiversity at the University of Exeter, UK. He edited the book  Autistic Community and the Neurodiversity Movement: Stories from the Frontline, featuring analysis of first-hand accounts by leading autistic and allied activists, published by Palgrave Macmillan. His studies examine how conceptions of autism, neurodiversity, and support associate with identity, lived experiences, and quality of life. As a self-advocate he has supported systems change work for inclusive employment and influenced the DSM-5 autism diagnosis.






Brett Ranon Nachman (he/him)
PhD Candidate 
University of 

Brett Ranon Nachman is a doctoral candidate in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis at University of Wisconsin-Madison and a graduate student researcher with the College Autism Network. His research centers on identity development, campus climate, and teaching and learning for many minoritized college student communities, including autistic, community college, and LGBTQIA+ students. Brett’s work on autism in higher education has been published in journals including  College Student Affairs Journal Community College Journal of Research and Practice. H e serves as a reviewer for several peer-reviewed journals and participates on the program committee for the annual College Autism Summit Follow Brett on Twitter, or email him at







Dora M. Raymaker (they/them/any)

Research Assistant Professor, Portland State University / Regional Research Institute for Human Services

Dora Raymaker, Ph.D., is a systems scientist and Research Assistant Professor at Portland State University. Regional Research Institute for Human Services in the School of Social Work, Co-director of the Academic Autism Spectrum Partnership in Research and Education (, and associate editor of the academic journal, Autism in Adulthood. Dr. Raymaker's research interests include community-engaged practice, systems thinking, measurement, realist evaluation and synthesis, and the dynamics at the intersection of science and society. Dr. Raymaker conducts intervention services research in collaboration with the Autistic community to improve employment outcomes and reduce discrimination and stigma. In their remaining free minutes of time, they enjoy writing fiction and making multimedia art (






Stephen Mark Shore (he/him)

Clinical Assistant Professor of Special Education, Adelphi University; Adjunct Professor of Occupational Therapy, New York University

Diagnosed with "Atypical Development and strong autistic tendencies" and "too sick" for outpatient treatment Dr. Shore was recommended for institutionalization. Nonspeaking until 4, and with much support from his parents, teachers, wife, and others, Stephen is now a full time professor at Adelphi University and adjunct at NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, focusing on aligning best practice in supporting autistic people to lead fulfilling and productive lives.
In addition to working with children and talking about life on the autism spectrum, Stephen is an internationally renowned educator, consultant and author on lifespan issues pertinent to education, relationships, employment, and self-advocacy. His most recent book College for Students with Disabilities combines personal stories and research for promoting success in higher education.

A current board member of Autism Speaks, and the Organization for Autism Research (OAR), president emeritus of the Asperger/Autism Network, and advisory board member of the Autism Society, Dr. Shore also serves on the advisory boards AANE, and other autism related  organizations.




Zach Williams (he/him)

MD/PhD Student, Vanderbilt University

Zack Williams is an MD/PhD candidate in the Neuroscience Graduate Program at Vanderbilt University, co-mentored by Tiffany Woynaroski (Hearing & Speech) and Carissa Cascio (Psychiatry). He is also an affiliate of the Vanderbilt University Frist Center for Autism and Innovation. His research focuses on the phenomenon of decreased sound tolerance in autistic people, which he hopes to better understand using a combination of self-report questionnaires, psychoacoustic tasks, and electrophysiologic measures. Additional areas of interest include the assessment and treatment of co-occurring mental health problems in autistic adults and the development of novel questionnaires to assess core and associated features of the autism phenotype.





Committee Advisors: 

Christina Nicolaidis, MD, MPH (she/her)
Professor, Portland State University

Christina Nicolaidis, MD, MPH is a general internist and a Professor is the School of Social Work at Portland State University (PSU), with secondary appointments in the School of Medicine at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) and the OHSU-PSU School of Public Health. She is the Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Academic Autism Spectrum Partnership in Research and Education ( AASPIRE), an international academic-community partnership that uses community-based participatory research (CBPR ) to address the priorities of autistic adults. She is leading multiple NIH-funded AASIPRE research studies on topics such as healthcare  and outcome measurement in autistic adults. Dr. Nicolaidis is also the founding Editor-in-Chief of a new peer-reviewed journal, Autism in Adulthood, which actively integrates the contributions of autistic adults - as Editorial Board members, authors, peer-reviewers, and readers - into the peer-reviewed literature. She has supported numerous autistic graduate students and junior faculty in their careers and is deeply committed to increasing the inclusion of autistic adults in all aspects of autism research, practice, and policy. She is honored to serve as an advisor to the INSAR Autistic Researchers Committee.


Kristen Gillespie-Lynch, PhD (she/her) 
Associate Professor, CUNY

Kristen Gillespie-Lynch received her PhD in Developmental Psychology from UCLA. She is an Associate Professor of Psychology at the College of Staten Island and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Guided by collaborations with autistic people, she co-constructs and evaluates interventions to empower autistic adolescents and adults and reduce stigma. She developed and directs a participatory mentorship program for autistic college students, Building Bridges Project REACH. Given that many of the challenges autistic people face arise from misconceptions about autism, she develops and evaluates autism trainings internationally. She is thrilled to serve as an advisor to INSAR’s new Autistic Researchers Committee.





INSAR Board of Directors, Liaison:

John Elder Robison (he/him) 
Neurodiversity Scholar in Residence, William and Mary College
Outgoing INSAR Board Liaison/Committee Advisor

Cheryl Dissanayake, PhD, MAPS, (she/her)
Professor, Director & Chair, Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre School of Psychology and Public Health, La Trobe University
INSAR Board Liaison/INSAR Vice President 2019-2021









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