Autism Research Network: Publications
The research interests of the group focus on both social and non-social aspects of autism. Examples of past research projects include:
Developing a sense of self
It is often argued that developing a sense of oneself relies heavily on our ability to understand and engage with others. If this is the case, then the difficulties with understanding others in autism should be accompanied by difficulties in understanding the self. Two of our research projects have explored this issue. The findings reveal that certain aspects of self are intact in autism while other aspects are problematic. In future research projects we hope to find out more about the precise nature of these difficulties. Understanding the self in autism is crucial to at least some therapies with individuals on the autistic spectrum.
Farley, A., López, B. & Saunders, G. (2010). Self-conceptualisation in autism: Knowing oneself versus knowing self-through-other. Autism: International Journal of Research and Practice: Special issue on Self in Autism.
Reddy, V., Williams, E., Costantini, C. & Lang, B. (2010). Engaging with the self: Mirror behaviour in autism, Down syndrome and typical development. Autism: International Journal of Research and Practice: Special issue on Self in Autism.
It is known that many children with autistic spectrum disorders are particularly good at picking out details from the environment. In the past we have conducted several projects investigating this issue in depth by studying the extent to which superior visual processing of details relates to difficulties in integrating information. This could in turn explain the presence of sensory impairments. We have also conducted research aimed at identifying subtypes of autism on the basis of performance profiles in perceptual tasks.
López, B., Leekam, S. & Arts, G. (2008). How central is central coherence: Preliminary data exploring the link between conceptual and perceptual processing in children with autism. Autism: International Journal of Research and Practice, 12(2), 159-171.
López, B. (2007). Building the whole beyond its parts: a critical examination of current theories of integration ability in autism. In E. McGregor, M. Núñez, K. Williams and J.C Gómez (Eds.) Autism: An integrated view. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.
A number of studies have suggested that autism is characterised by a difficulty with flexibility of behaviour and thought. Very little is known, however, about the precise nature of these difficulties. In a series of studies we have investigated flexibility in autism further by looking at the ability to switch between tasks, the ability to generalise and the relation of flexibility to the demands of the task. We have also investigated differences between autism and dyslexia regarding flexibility.
Stoet, G. & López, B. (2011). Task-switching abilities in children with autism spectrum disorder. Accepted for publication in the European Journal of Developmental Psychology.
Stoet, G. Markey, H. & López, B. (2007). Dyslexia and attentional shifting. Neuroscience letters, 427, 61-65.
An important way to understand other people is through engaging with them. We can engage by communicating verbally or non-verbally and by sharing emotions. Some of our research projects have investigated how people with autism engage with others and how this engagement might impact on their ability to communicate.
Sterponi, L. & Fasulo, A. (2010) How to go on: Intersubjectivity and progressivity in the communication of a child with autism. Ethos, 38, 1, 116-142.
Reddy, V., Williams, E., & Vaughan, A. (2002). Sharing humour and laughter in autism and Down's Syndrome. British Journal of Psychology, 93, 219-242.