Apr. 8, 2013 — When a child with autism copies the actions of an adult, he or she is likely to omit anything “silly” about what they’ve just seen. In contrast, typically developing children will go out of their way to repeat each and every element of the behavior even as they may realize that parts of it don’t make any sense.
The findings, reported in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on April 8, are the first to show that the social nature of imitation is very important and challenging for children with autism, the researchers say. They also emphasize just how important it is for most children to be like other people.
“The data suggest that children with autism do things efficiently rather than socially, whereas typical children do things socially rather than efficiently,” says Antonia Hamilton of the University of Nottingham. “We find that typical children copy everything an adult does, whereas autistic children only do the actions they really need to do.”
The researchers made the discovery after testing 31 children with autism spectrum conditions and 30 typically developing children who were matched for verbal mental age. On each of five trials, each child was asked to watch carefully as a demonstrator showed how to retrieve a toy from a box or build a simple object. Importantly, each demonstration included two necessary actions (e.g. unclipping and removing the box lid) and one unnecessary action (e.g. tapping the top of the box twice). The box was then reset behind a screen and handed to the child, who was instructed to “get or make the toy as fast as you can.” They were not specifically told to copy the behavior they’d just seen.
Almost all of the children successfully reached the goal of getting or making the toy, but typically developing children were much more likely to include the unnecessary step as they did so, a behavior known as overimitation. Those children copied 43 to 57 percent of the unnecessary actions, compared to 22 percent in the children with autism. That’s despite the fact that the children correctly identified the tapping action as “silly,” not “sensible.”
Hamilton says the researchers now want to know precisely what kind of actions children copy, and how that tendency to copy everything might contribute to human cultural transmission of knowledge. She says that parents and teachers should be aware of the social value in going beyond the successful completion of such tasks.
So the Autistic children follow the instructions better (“get or make the toy as fast as you can”) but they’re the ones which are odd?
We need to help those poor allistic children to follow directions better! A full half of them misunderstood the instructions and don’t have the “theory of mind” to realise that some steps were unnecessary.
Oh, that is a really cool finding.
I think it’s not about following directions but identifying what isn’t necessary and discarding it.
Remember when a pageant mom sued a pageant for awarding her autistic daughter “Overall Best Personality”, something that is a legitimate high title in pageants?
How would you feel if your mother sued people because she didn’t think it was possible for you to have a good personality?
i am just really tired of hearing about how tough it is for the parents of people with autism or made-up shit like “attachment disorder” for kids adopted out of or into horror stories.
you know what? sucks to be you. but i’m tired of your voices being in charge of the narrative about people with autism or kids who suffered from a predatory adoption industry or people with other types of conditions or disabilities that are just SO FUCKING TOUGH for parents to live with
i want to hear what people with autism have to say. i want to hear what people who have been adopted have to say. i want to hear what people with depression and eating disorders and deafness and physical disabilities and other developmental disabilities and other mental illnesses — i want to hear THOSE people.
it’s not easy to live with me, i know. but if you need an adult to comment on a story, ASK AN ADULT AUTISTIC PERSON WHAT THEY THINK ABOUT PARENTING AUTISTIC KIDS.
christ, i just
i can’t take it anymore.
and you know what? fuck you, this american life circa 2006, for doing a story about “unconditional love” of parents for children ~*~*~despite the children’s problems*~*~*~* and not talking about the love the children managed to spare for parents who treat them like such burdens.
Also, *wave* I’m an adult autistic with two autistic children. I know my story is wayyyy different from the stories I hear from allistic parents of autistic children.
in a nutshell:
- autism speaks does not have a single member on their board that actually has autism
- they use awful methods to raise funds and rely on shit stereotypes and villainizing autism to cause fear in people which is obviously the LAST thing we need
- they dont put their funds to very good use
- they want to cure autism altogether which basically means erasing people
- instead of worrying about how to actually Help Autistic People in their daily lives
- one time they made a video in which a mother talks about how she contemplated commiting a murder-suicide by driving off a bridge with her autistic daughter IN FRONT OF SAID AUTISTIC DAUGHTER and says the only thing that stopped her was her non-autistic daughter waiting for her at home
- they are responsible for the “I Am Autism” video in which an eerie disembodied voices talks over clips of children playing and says things such as
- “I am autism. I have no interest in right or wrong. I derive great pleasure out of your loneliness. I will fight to take away your hope.”
- “Your money will fall into my hands and I will bankrupt you for my own self gain.”
- “And if you are happily married, I will make sure that your marriage fails.”
- that is it
- that is what autism speaks thinks autism is
— Cal Montgomery, Defining Autistic Lives (via disabledbyculture)
(tw: ableism, autism cure)
I spent my childhood and youth being bullied (often by adults), having my personal space intruded upon — when you’re off in “your own world,” personal space doesn’t matter and it can be invaded, all in the name of pulling you out of yourself, of making you more engaged, because being a properly social person is more important than feeling safe, more important than not having to grow up haunted by these traumatic experiences, and we’ll of course conveniently forget how these experiences gave me social anxiety which makes it even more impossible for me to socialize. I spent my younger years being made to feel again and again that I was bad, wrong, not okay the way I was, that it would be better if I were a completely different person. Now, with the announcement of an FDA-approved trial for a potential autism “cure,” I’m reminded that it’s not enough for some people to badger and bully a person into trying to be more “normal,” and punish them for failing, but that it would be acceptable to just change their brain completely. That it’s acceptable to test it out on children who have no say in the matter. That if this works and had I been born in a different time they may have succeeded in turning me into the completely different person that they wanted me to be. And the “me” I am right now? She would be effectively dead.
Even though part of me thinks this can’t possibly work — aren’t they always going on and on about how they don’t understand the “mystery” of autism? — it’s hard enough on me just to think about the mentality that thinks it’s okay to subject children to a treatment (which might not actually work and, who knows, might have serious side effects!) that they have no power to refuse and which seeks to get rid of minds like mine.