Our current understanding of autism and other developmental disorders is primarily based on research conducted in high-income countries, predominantly in North America and Europe. Even within high-income countries, White participants are overrepresented in autism research. There is now increased recognition that a more global and diverse research representation is warranted. This paper argues that in order for global and diverse research efforts to be effective, it is essential to collaborate and engage with local experts and stakeholders, including local researchers, clinicians and representatives from governmental and non-governmental organisations. Such collaborations ensure that studies use culturally appropriate methods and materials, and that research findings are interpreted taking local context into account. Ultimately, these collaborations build local capacity and foster the development of culturally and contextually appropriate interventions that address locally perceived needs. The adage ‘nothing about us without us’ is vital to global autism research.