Saturday, May 05, 2007

Superior Non-Social Cognitive Abilities of Autistic Persons?

A recent Norwegian study has cast some doubt on the findings of earlier studies which had suggested that persons with Autism Spectrum Disorders possess superior non-social cognitive abilities - "earlier findings suggesting that individuals with autism spectrum disorders solve non-social cognitive tasks faster than typically developing control persons were not replicated."

Autism, Vol. 11, No. 1, 81-92 (2007)
DOI: 10.1177/1362361307070988
© 2007 The National Autistic Society, SAGE Publications
Disembedding performance in children and adolescents with Asperger syndrome or high-functioning autism
Nils Kaland

Erik Lykke Mortensen

Lars Smith

Høgskolen i Lillehammer,Norway

The aim of the present study was to assess the findings, reported in earlier studies, that individuals with autism spectrum disorders process visuo-spatial tasks faster than typically developing control persons. The participants in the present study were children and adolescents with Asperger syndrome (AS) or high-functioning autism (HFA) (N = 13), and a matched group of typically developing children and adolescents (N = 13). The results showed that the participants in the clinical group performed marginally less well than those in the control group on both the Block Design Test and the Embedded Figures Test, but the differences were not statistically significant. Thus, earlier findings suggesting that individuals with autism spectrum disorders solve non-social cognitive tasks faster than typically developing control persons were not replicated. The results are discussed with special reference to the hypothesis of weak central coherence.

Key Words: Asperger syndrome • high-functioning autism • non-social cognitive tests • response times


Anonymous said...

Mr. Doherty,
May I ask you why it would at all matter whether autistics, on average, have superior skills to NTs in one or more particular areas? I can understand that you would like to conrast Michelle Dawson et al. when claiming autistics have specific strenghts. In fact, I would side with you, bu tnot because of how scientific or non-scientific her or your claims are, but because it really doesn't matter: I don't care whether my strengths and weaknesses are due to autism or not, I care that I am a human being with unique strengths and weaknesses, and that I want to be accepted as such. Same for all other autistic and non-autistic human beings. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, and some strengths and weaknesses are more common among one group than among another. That doesn't do away with everyone's right to be themselves and to be valued as such. I don't need a study to prove that "my kind" (whethter it be female, blind, autistic, dark-haired, etc.) have specific strenghts the "other kind" have not in order to be accepted with my femininity, blindness, autism and dark hair.

Unknown said...

The truth always matters Ms van woerkom. On this site I try to present information concerning autism disorders, strengths, deficits, positive, negative etc. The whole picture.

Your comments appear to assume that speaking the truth devalues persons with autism. I do not subscribe to that view.

As for Ms Dawson's views those are hers to defend. I do not accept her views or her ideology.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Doherty,
With respect, but no, you are not giving the whole picture. I don't think that you should - everyone is free to write on the Internet whatever they like as long as it's legal -, and I will never claim that I show anything remotely close to the whole picture (I don't), but don't claim to show the whole picture, or the truth, or whatever, when you don't. If yo wanted to show "the whole picture" on the issue of autistic strengths, you'd review a large number of studies researching autistic strengths, on both sides of the issue, and pick out their strong and weak points, and then decide on your position. Instead, you only publish a study abstract that supports your views. I don't care about the truth on this issue (I do care about it on others tha tyou happen to write about), but if you want to give the whole picture, you ushold actually do so instead of presenting one side. By the way, you can just go on posting like you do now, and we sometimes agree and many times we do not, but then don't use phrases like "whole picture" and "autism reality", because wha tyou post is one side of the picture and one way of looking at reality.

Unknown said...

This post presents, with very little commentary from me, a recent study which casts doubt on the notion that autistic persons have certain superior non-social cognitive abilities. That is all.

I suspect you would be quite happy if this study confirmed earlier suggestions of superiority. It does not and you are unhappy that I posted it. Whether you like it or not such information is part of the reality of autism and I will continue to present it as such.

Anonymous said...

As I said, I don't care about the truth on this particular topic - I don't need to prove that autistics have certain superior abilities to NTs in order to prove that we have as much human dignity as you do. All I am saying is that posting only one side of the debate, is not the whole picture and there wouldn't be a debate at all if there was only one way of looking at reality (cause, well, the people who wrote the studies claiming autistic strenghts, are not all "high-functioning" autistic self-advocates but esteemed scientists and professionals). Now only today you decided to post a pro-mercury-causation article despite the fact that you don't subscribe to that theory. This is an issue on which we happen to agree, but I do compliment you for posting the other side. Why won't you do the same on other topics? Not that you have to - I post some of the same articles you post, but leave out many because they don't support my opinion (but as I said I never claimed to give the whole picture) -, but you would if you were presenting "the whole picture".