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Spectrum: Autism Research News

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Lisk Feng

Special Report: Autistic strengths and special interests

by  /  12 May 2021

Social difficulties. Restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior. Sensory sensitivity. Autism has long been defined by its challenges But autism sometimes comes with advantages. This special report highlights those advantages and describes the research behind them.

In one Deep Dive, we explore potential benefits to the way some autistic people see and hear the world, their sense of morality and their ability to process information in unusual ways. A second Deep Dive underscores the positive aspects of special interests, an unusually intense fascination with a specific topic. Evidence suggests that these interests can help build confidence and enhance well-being, facilitate learning and sometimes even launch a career.

For decades, the mainstream scientific community overlooked or even dismissed the idea that strengths can accompany autism. The latest evidence shows, however, that this oversight distorts understanding of the condition. It also may lead doctors, teachers and others to try to suppress certain traits in autistic people. This report is an attempt to fill important gaps in the scientific and clinical portrait of autism.

Featured Articles

Humorous photograph shows a young man with plastic sunglasses on that match the patterns around him, surveys a tabletop scene of patterned objects.

Finding strengths in autism

by  /  12 May 2021

Autism comprises a set of difficulties, but growing evidence suggests that certain abilities also define the condition.

Boy in front of colorful constellation or universe, studying the realms of outer space.

The benefits of special interests in autism

by  /  12 May 2021

Researchers are studying how the intense passions of autistic people shape the brain, improve well-being and enhance learning.

Older autistic adults may retain strong visual abilities

by  /  2 March 2020

Autistic adults may not experience the typical age-related decline in brain regions related to vision.

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