Autistic adults can be helped by social awareness

The University of Texas study revealed that the increase in the socio-emotional and socio-cognitive abilities are linked to brain change.

Every child is its own unique parameters. While some are extraordinarily brilliant, others are faced with a number of challenges. One such challenge is Autism, or autism spectrum disorder, which refers to a range of conditions distinguished by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviours, speech and nonverbal communication, as well as by unique strengths and differences. In a recent study, it was found that a clinician-driven virtual learning platform, customized for young adults on the autism spectrum, shows enhanced social capability.

The University of Texas study shows that the boost in the socio-emotional and socio-cognitive abilities are linked with brain change. The results integrated increased activation in the brain’s socio-cognition hub with gains that could be connected to improvement on an empathy measure.

The researchers were predominantly enthralled by the significant relationships between behavioural and brain changes, as there was a lack of research in this area.

“Brain change is a big deal in adults with autism. Many people implicitly believe that brain changes are unlikely for adults with autism, which might affect how they interact with those adults. This study challenges that very notion and has profound implications in the way people would view, interact, and treat adults with autism,” said researcher Daniel Yang.

This research acknowledged three major brain-behavior changes:

It was observed that individuals with autism have problems with theory of mind. Or in simpler terminology, the ability to identify the intention of others often lacks in people diagnosed with Autism.

The brain area which is responsible for socio-emotional processing revealed that individual gains in emotion recognition with decreased activation to social versus non-social stimuli.

The part of the brain for visual attention also reveals the significantly decreased activation to non-social versus social stimuli across all participants.

Young adults with high-functioning autism acknowledged the evidence-based behavioral intervention over five weeks for a total of ten hours. For the duration of the training session, the clinician and participants networked entirely through virtual avatar characters and engaged in real-time.

The findings are published in the journal Autism Research. To get the exact and precise information about the study, the participants were exposed to multiple opportunities within a session to practice social skills and were tested twice during pre- and post-training.

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