Community bulletin: Conversation analysis, relationship between autism and intellectual disability | Spectrum



Illustration by Laurène Boglio

Hello and welcome to the community newsletter! I am your host, Chelsey B. Coombs, Spectrumengagement editor.

Our first Twitter thread this week comes from Kristen Bottema-Beutel, associate professor at Boston College in Massachusetts. His new study in Autism looked at understand interactions between autistic children and their guardians using ‘conversation analysis’.

How caregivers talk to children with autism is important to children’s development, and many studies of how children learn language use follow-up guidelines, or a caregiver’s speech that relates to what is doing a child at that time. But interventions that prompt caregivers to commit to follow-up guidelines do not have lasting positive effects. Bottema-Beutel and colleagues argue that conversation analysis, “a tradition of qualitative and micro-analytical research that focuses on how social interactions are organized and interpreted by the people who participate in them”, could be more effective.

The researchers applied conversation analysis to videos of caregivers and autistic children playing. When a caregiver issues a directive, such as “Now try,” it gives the child the opportunity to interact and respond more easily than if they hadn’t. noted the team.

“We argue that analyzing proposals in this way provides nuance to previous research on caregiver use of follow-up guidelines, in a way that may have implications for helping parents interact with their autistic children. are in the early stages of learning the language, “the researchers write.

Sue Fletcher Watson, professor of developmental psychology at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, tweeted the praise.

Linda watson, a professor of speech and hearing sciences at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, tweeted that during her doctoral studies she had found similar evidence.

Also this week on Twitter, Jonathan Sebat, professor of psychiatry and cellular and molecular medicine at the University of California at San Diego, kicked off an ongoing debate: is there autism, with a spectrum of traits, or several autisms that can be classified by different phenotypes? Sebat questioned the existence of autism without intellectual disability, a “holy grail” some researchers seek, claiming that autism with and without intellectual disability exists on the same spectrum.

Sebat hypothesizes that polygenic risk scores for autism, intelligence quotients, and educational attainment are all related due to certain subsets of alleles that overlap for a highly regulated neurodevelopmental process.

Jacob Vorstman, associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Toronto in Canada, replied that autism “is not a necessary phenotype at the severe end of the IQ spectrum” because there are people who have disabilities. intellectual but who do not have autism.

Sebat replied that genetics currently suggest that autism without intellectual disability may be on the low-support end of the spectrum rather than an entirely separate entity.

Don’t forget to register for our October 28 webinar, featuring Zachary J. Williams, a medical student and doctoral candidate at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, who will discuss the measurement of alexithymia in people with autism and the importance of developing and validating measurements for specific populations.

That’s it for this week’s community newsletter! If you have any suggestions for interesting social posts you’ve seen in autism research, please feel free to email me at See you next week!


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