My research I did today on decision making in autism

Today I participated in a research study based in London. The study had been recommended to me by a friend of mine who had taken part in it a few weeks ago. There are two parts to the study-the first part focuses on whether people with autism have increased auditory perception and on the differences in how autistic people and people who don’t have autism respond to faces. The second part of the study focuses on the perceptual differences in autism and how these affect decision making compared to people without autism. It was a really fascinating day and I was paid for my time and my travel expenses which was a bonus!

I met the researcher in charge of the study at the local Tube station-I had requested to meet him there because my sense of direction is so poor that I don’t trust myself to navigate the streets of London even though the building was only a 5 minute walk from the station! In the first study, I had to put on some headphones and listen to some auditory recordings focusing firstly on just the women in the recording and then solely the men and answer some comprehension questions afterwards. It was really hard for me to focus on just the one group and the sounds were getting very jumbled in my head but I didn’t do too poorly on that task as far as I know. Then I had another task where I had to distinguish between a dog’s bark and a lion’s roar from a millisecond sound clip and then say whether I had also heard the sound of a car mixed in with them. I found this very challenging as, to me, the lion’s roar and the car engine sounded the same! I then had a hearing test and the results of that were that my hearing in both ears is very good. The second part of the task featured several screens of 2 playing cards with female faces on them and I had to choose which face I preferred and there were multiple options as to why I chose that face. Some were based purely on aesthetics whilst other options dealt more with how friendly the person looked. That was really interesting!

Then I went into the room next door and did an IQ test. I didn’t get the full breakdown but the second researcher told me afterwards that I had scored brilliantly on the verbal reasoning sections but my block design score was extremely poor as I only got one block design right. It was rather embarrassing being sat there knowing how the blocks are supposed to fit together but not being able to manipulate them in the right way. As I have mentioned on here before, I don’t like making mistakes and failing a task like this in front of 2 researchers was rather awkward. The researcher said at the end that my lack of ability in this task relates to my everyday problems with direction and spatial awareness and that I am definitely more skilled verbally. He said that the extreme discrepancy between scores made it difficult for him to find an exact match with someone without autism to assess our differences in decision making. Who said I make life easy? Lol! After the IQ test, I had to do a number accuracy game where I had to fixate on the centre of a computer screen and there were two boxes (one either side of the screen) with numbers flashing up too quickly to be calculated and I had to guess which box had the highest score. If my guess was correct, it flashed green and, if it was wrong, it flashed red. My accuracy for this ranged between 74% and 77% which was not too bad at all. I was able to look at both boxes at the same time and compare how big or small the figures were to try and work out which scored the highest. I then had to fill in a questionnaire aimed at finding out which autistic traits are most prominent in my manifestation of the condition and then I had another computer exercise where I had to look at a flashing circle and listen to a series of beeps and press one button if the sound and image were in sync and another button if they were not in sync. After this, I went back to the number accuracy exercise but, this time, I had to select the box with the lowest score. In the middle of this, the fire alarm went off so I was a bit distracted at this point! I then went back to the flashing circle and beep exercise and, after that, the experiment was over.

I walked back to the station with 2 of the researchers. I was having a fascinating conversation with one of the researchers, a lovely Greek man. He was telling me how he is trying to broaden autism research away from solely children and explore its impact on adults who have, in the majority of cases, learned how to socialise in what is seen as an appropriate way through learning it as an intellectual skill.

It was a fascinating day and I look forward to eventually receiving the results once the analysis has been done. I hope that it will help people understand more about the unique way in which we perceive the world. I would definitely be interested in taking part in other research studies focusing on adults with conditions on the autistic spectrum and hope to be involved in some more pretty soon.

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4 Responses to My research I did today on decision making in autism

  1. Patricia says:

    This was very interesting – may I add a link to this on my website? I’d like to add it to this page -http://www.autistikids.com/scientific-information.html

    You can email me at autistikids@gmail.com if you have any questions. Thanks very much!

  2. oliver simpson says:

    Another fasincating post. These sorts of tests i remember doing as a child when my parents were trying to find out exactly what they felt was wrong with me? and some of these tests i admit left me feeling quite unsure of myself, as they and none of the doctors never explained to me what the tests were for. even today i wonder if these tests were really testing my autistic traits or if it was something else they were testing. But i digress, yes you see a lot of research, support and funding for childern in autism and that is a good thing as helping childern with autism can make a real difference in where their life goes once they reach adulthood.

    However i feel there is this bad tendancy among both in government, Autism charities and among some individuals that too much focus goes on autustic children and not enough on adults as problems continue often as autisitic people age and especially around late teens can be the hardest period and the area where it can have the most influence on someone’s life. Which i can attest to as i have gotten older. school was school. But college,uni and work these areas have been another challenge alltogether and pervious gains revered themseleves often (mainly confidence, not feeling frustrated with life and feeling that all my efforts have been for naught).

    Why this can happen more promienent in austistic people and how best to apporach it is soemthing i think that needs more attention and research into for all specturms of autism.

    I have started to feel that there needs to be a service or group out there that can really focus on how best to aid adults that are autistic and help them, society and families to best bring out their strengths and help them to lead fufilling lives. while National Austistic socety and other charities have and will continue to do what they do, i just feel there needs to be another service out there for autisitic people that cathers to them. This is something i am wondering if i should look into maybe help to set up myself if i can find the right people to work with.

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