Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Reading the Research: Predicting Treatment Effectiveness in Autistic Adults

Welcome back to Reading the Research, where I trawl the Internet to find noteworthy research on autism and related subjects, then discuss it in brief with bits from my own life, research, and observations. 

Predicting treatment effectiveness for adults with autism

Seems a lot of studies involving autistic adults use the MRI machine these days...  Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the cost of using such a machine, this study had only 17 participants.  That's a pitifully small number for research, but perhaps if this line of research is promising, a larger study can be funded.  I don't know the exact process of getting your research funded, but I do know it's annoying and full of red tape and rejection letters.

This study is notable because it may well be the beginning of the future of choosing therapy and treatments for autism.  The researchers noted specific differences in the brain that predicted how well they'd learn a particular social training program.  Effectively, the more brain activation in language processing and non-verbal social cues, the better they were able to learn emotional recognition, theory of mind, and other social skills.  My guess is that this parses out to: the more you recognize social behavior for what it is, the better you can learn social skills.

I should note here that a lot of what science ends up researching can and will trigger a "well duuuuhhh" response from autistics and parents in the know.  While science does sometimes discover things that people do not know, more often it establishes a scientific basis for facts at least a few people take for granted.  We need that basis, unfortunately, to build up to more directly useful research.  That's how science works.  It's sometimes very slow and frustrating, but it's how we advance and improve.

In regards to my personal experience... I suspect, had I been chucked in one of those brain scanners, that my particular brain would have been in the middle of the pack.  I suspect this in retrospect, since... I basically spent my childhood doing an extended (and very much slower) version of social skills training, but I had to force myself to learn all of it and it didn't come naturally to me.  I think if you'd asked me in middle school (and I somehow didn't angrily snap at you), I would have likely said that whatever it was people were busily doing, it was none of my concern.  The fact that I'm biologically female may have given me an edge, but the fact that my visual detail processing is in the lowest 5% of the population nixed that edge, and possibly stunted my efforts for a while.  You can't pay attention to a visual behavior you don't see, after all...

No comments:

Post a Comment