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Community Newsletter: New Look at Theory-of-Mind Skills, Evaluation of Joint Attention, The Sex Ratio of Autism | Spectrum | Autism Research News

Illustration by Laurene Boglio

A trill of tweets this week theorized about theory-of-mind skills during conversation. Those skills don’t predict the success of an interaction between autistic, non-autistic or mixed pairs of adolescents, according to a new study that sparked the discussion.

“Fascinating paper”, tweeted Noah Sasson, professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Dallas. Autistic participants broke more theory-of-mind-related norms, based on neurotypical exchanges, but did not differ from their non-autistic peers in terms of perspective taking or use of language about mental states — skills Sasson notes are “how ToM is made.” generally defined.”

The findings are ongoing”contrary to our hypothesis”, tweeted Michelle Dawsonan autism researcher at Hôpital Rivière-des-Prairies in Montreal, Canada, citing the study’s conclusions.

Dawson also quoted a comment that: the work was substandard to “test the effect of (or interactions with) dyad-type” as the COVID-19 pandemic halted the researcher’s data collection.

Joint attention in autism also got a second look in another series of tweets started by Dan Kennedy, associate professor of psychology and brain sciences at Indiana University Bloomington. Kennedy summed up his recent work on the subject with a short spoiler: While playing with toys, “hands are important more than eye contact,” he wrote, tweeting a related post and giving his colleagues a “nice description.”

“Facing in everyday activities is equally rare in autistic and neurotypical children and is not required in either group,” he tweeted. Damian Miltonsenior lecturer in intellectual and developmental disorders at the University of Kent in the United Kingdom, in response, adding that the finding made him giggle

Richard Woodsa graduate student at London South Bank University in the UK, asked if the finding raises questions about the Autism Diagnosis Observation Schedule.

Eye-gazing is still “diagnostically usefulKennedy replied, but perhaps less central to collective attention in some contexts.

Catherine Burrowsassistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, tweeted about her new work referring to: measurement bias explain why autism is four times more likely to be diagnosed in boys than girls. She and her colleagues followed baby siblings of children with autism over the course of five years and assessed how common diagnostic tools captured the characteristics of the infant and toddler boy and girl differently. After adjusting for those differences, the sex ratio in their sample dropped to almost 1-to-1.

“Jeez! this bad interesting things”, tweeted Andrew WhitehouseAngela Wright Bennett, Professor of Autism Research at the Telethon Kids Institute and the University of Western Australia in Perth, shares a link to Spectrum‘s cover of the study.

“A big step forward for autistic girls/women/gender diverse people,” applauded Josephine Barbaraassociate professor of psychology at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia, in a quote tweet.

That’s it for this week’s Community Newsletter! If you have suggestions for interesting social posts you’ve seen in the field of autism research, feel free to email [email protected]

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