Community newsletter: INSAR 2021 edition | Spectrum

Illustration by Laurène Boglio

Hello and welcome to this week’s community newsletter! I am your host, Chelsey B. Coombs, Spectrumengagement editor of.

This week, Spectrum went to the annual meeting of the International Society for Research on Autism (INSAR) – virtually, of course – to find out what’s new in the field. You can read all of our coverage at Spectrum.

We also kept an eye on what you were saying online on INSAR. Here is a sample.

INSAR’s keynote addresses were a highlight of the conference.

Petrus J de Vries, Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, gave a talk titled “What Kind of Research Should We Do and Where Should We Do It?” which focused on what his research team learned from working with the tuberous sclerosis complex community, as well as autism research in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).

A keynote speech by Tony charman, Chair of Clinical Child Psychology at King’s College London, UK, looked at the early diagnosis and intervention of autism and what researchers can learn from the past.

Many tweeted about the virtual format required by COVID from the conference.

While virtual conferences can expand access to people far from the conference venue, Gail Alvares, a postdoctoral researcher at the Telethon Kids Institute in Nedlands, Australia, wrote that this can actually be an inconvenience for people living in distant time zones.

Brianne Tomaszewski, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, tweeted that the virtual format reminded him of a quote from a recent comment in Autism research, “A lost generation? The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on early-career ASD researchers. “

Many people have also tweeted about INSAR’s pre-recorded presentation format.

A pseudonymous participant said the format was ideal for allowing panelists to answer questions as they made their presentation.

But some of the panelists, like Monique Botha, a researcher at the University of Stirling in Scotland, were a little worried about being given a recorded speech.

While we couldn’t get into the Twitter discussion of all the research presented at INSAR, we wanted to highlight a thread from Noah sasson, associate professor of behavioral and brain sciences at the University of Texas at Dallas. His tweets about finding Kilee DeBrabander, a graduate student from Sasson’s lab, had a lot of engagement.

The study focused on metaperception: a person’s beliefs about how others perceive them. Both autistic and non-autistic participants had a five-minute introductory conversation with one other person. They were then asked to rate the quality of the conversation, as well as how their partner would rate it and whether they thought the person would want to talk to them again in the future.

Both autistic and non-autistic participants had difficulty predicting how their interviewers viewed them.

However, only adults with autism accurately predicted when their partners wanted to interact with them again and when they didn’t.

Sasson suggested the findings point to weaknesses in the “ deficit model, ” which postulates that autism traits are problematic and that people with autism either don’t understand or don’t want to relate to others. This framing was criticized by neurodiversity advocates to pathologize autism rather than recognizing the condition as a different way of thinking. The results, he wrote, could even reverse that pattern and suggest that autism researchers need to examine how their own biases color their interpretations of the study results.

Damian milton, professor of intellectual and developmental disabilities at the University of Kent in the UK, wondered how to frame these findings in the context of the problem of double empathy. The double empathy problem describes the difficulty that two people with different life experiences have in empathizing with each other. For example, many non-autistic people blame problems communicating with an autistic person on the autistic person, but research has shown that the difficulties actually come from both people.

Debra karhson, postdoctoral researcher at Stanford University in California and president of the Stanford Black Postdoc Association, tweeted: “I love the growing body of research that is starting to complicate the clinical view of #autism. “

The traditional social-cognitive view of autism is that people with autism are less good at communicating than people without autism. But as Kristen Bottema-Beutel Summarized succinctly, this study is further evidence that people with autism may be better at certain aspects of communication than people with neurotyping.

It’s all for this week Spectrum Community newsletter! We will return to our regular programming next week. In the meantime, if you have any suggestions for any interesting social posts you’ve seen in autism research, please feel free to email me at [email protected] See you next week!




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