We are a group of researchers at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) and University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada, doing a study, titled Knowledge, Perceptions, and Use of Psychedelics among intellectually able adults with autism spectrum condition: An online survey. We are doing this project to learn about the perception, opinions, and knowledge of autistic adults about psychedelics, and whether they have used them in the past. Psychedelic compounds are a group of chemicals that change or enhance sensory perceptions, thought processes, and energy levels.
What are the goals of the study?
These compounds are sometimes used to facilitate spiritual experiences. Psychedelic compounds have shown impressive effects in neurotypical people with depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, substance misuse, and obsessive compulsive disorder, etc. Many clinical trials of psychedelics have been published in neurotypical populations and many more are ongoing. Nonetheless, there has been only one clinical trial of 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), one of psychedelics) in autistic adults with co-occurring social anxiety disorder. This neglect represents mental health and research inequity. Therefore, we want to do this study to listen to voices from autistic people to guide research and practice priorities surrounding the possible future uses of psychedelics.
What will happen during the visit or online?
They will be asked for responses to the online survey regarding their opinions and past experiences with psychedelics. The survey should take between 20 to 30 minutes to complete. Any information we collect from people is private and deciding to complete the survey is voluntary. Completing the survey (or not) will not impact the care anyone receives at their medical service providers (including CAMH) now or in the future.
How will this help families?
In order to better respond to the diverse needs of autistic people and to develop new interventions for their various co-occurring mental health concerns, it is crucial to represent the ASC population in empirical research on psychedelics (Oritz et al., 2022). Obtaining the opportunity to evaluate the efficacy of this new treatment method in individuals with ASC would depend on the perspectives of the ASC population on psychedelics, as well as their willingness to try them as a potential treatment. It is important to find out what kind of research and mental health improvements are of value to autistic individuals. It is equally important to obtain their perspective prior to carrying out such studies. Moreover, it is vital to transform the experiences of autistic adults into knowledge that can be used to redefine current research strategies (Pukki et al., 2022). Valuing the voices of autistic individuals and involving their opinions can have highly beneficial consequences such as the correction of existing stigmas and misconceptions of concepts about autism and neurodiversity, and can lead clinical research towards more effective directions (Pukki et al., 2022).