Community newsletter: online theory of mind test, strength-based autism diagnosis, trajectory mapping | Spectrum


Illustration by Laurène Boglio

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

Our first thread comes from Lucy Livingston, Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Cardiff University in the UK. She and her team have created an online, multiple-choice version of a test that examines theory of mind or the ability to understand the desires, intentions, and beliefs of others.

The Frith-Happé animation test, developed in 2000 by Uta Frith, professor emeritus of cognitive development at University College London in the United Kingdom, and Francesca Happé, professor of cognitive neuroscience at King’s College London, uses interactions between triangular shapes in motion to assess theory. mental skills in people with autism. In the original version, participants described what they saw, which the researchers then wrote down. To eliminate the subjectivity of these scores, another team created a multiple choice version in 2011, which the new work makes available online.

The online test works as well as previous versions, Livingston and colleagues found, and once again shows that people with autism have more difficulty with theory of mind skills than people without autism. The new test is also easier to access for people outside of search settings.

Frith tweeted Livingston saying “Nice” and Felicity Sedgewick, senior lecturer in educational psychology at the University of Bristol in the UK, said this inspired her with new study ideas.

Then a number of autism researchers took to Twitter to praise a Autism editorial that highlights how clinicians can use a strengths-based model of neurodiversity instead of a deficit-based model to formulate a diagnosis of autism.

“A strengths-based approach to sharing developmental and diagnostic information can change the way parents view their children with autism, which in turn changes the way children with autism view themselves, leading to greater empowerment. into adulthood, ”the authors wrote.

The authors also suggest seven strategies for clinicians to achieve this goal, including adopting a warm and positive tone, considering how interventions and treatments are framed, and meeting the supportive needs of caregivers.

Meng-Chuan Lai, assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Toronto in Canada, called the article “brilliant”; “Yes please,” tweeted Ann Memmott, an associate and “experienced expert” at the UK National Development Inclusion Team; and Danielle Christy, an educational psychologist in Sacramento, Calif., hailed it as something “every practitioner should read!”

A Spectrum Deep Dive published this week addressed some overlapping issues, examining how people with autism fare over time in terms of strengths and weaknesses, based on early behavioral markers and genetic variants.

“No matter what the outcome, this unknown is really tough on families,” says Anne Arnett, a child psychologist at the University of Washington in Seattle, in the article. “When you can eliminate the unknown, or at least give them a sense of what to expect over time, that can be an intervention in itself to help families prepare. “

That’s it for this week’s community newsletter. Spectrum! If you have any suggestions for 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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