Friday, January 19, 2007

Autistic intelligence

Dawson, M., Soulières, I., Gernsbacher, M.A., & Mottron, L. (in press). The level and nature of autistic intelligence. Psychological Science.

This paper was accepted today. I'm pretty happy about that. These are the Raven's Progressive Matrices data, some of which we presented in preliminary form at IMFAR 2005 and at the 2006 AAAS conference. They draw attention to the fact that there should be a lot more caution than is currently the case, when making assumptions about what autistics can or can't do. Some serious rethinking is necessary, about intelligence in autism and possibly intelligence in general. Our data demonstrate that areas that have been presumed to be dysfunctional in autism (e.g., fluid intelligence, high-level abstract reasoning) are instead strengths. We have called into question the basis for dividing autism into presumed "high" and "low" functioning.

This paper will probably be published in late 2007. It's my first paper as first author, and what a privilege it is to work with such wonderful colleagues and participants.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Could you give me a definition of 'fluid intelligence' please? Nothing too technical mind!
Best wishes

Michelle Dawson said...

Fluid intelligence is (not-too-technically) about reasoning and problem solving ability.

Joseph said...

I've been waiting for the formal publication on that for a long time myself :)

Thanks.

mcewen said...

Works for me! Cheers and thanks. Will you be giving us a translated [dumbed down] version in due course? Don't want to overtax what few functioning brain cells I have left.

ballastexistenz said...

I can remember being at a time when I was considered officially to be low-functioning, and they gave me a test that I think was a test of fluid intelligence (I remember that term being attached to it), and they were utterly stunned by the results to the point of, that's when they decided to say I had "idiot-savant features", because I was in the top 4th percentile of adults and I was not an adult yet.

abfh said...

Congratulations on the acceptance of your paper, and thanks for all your efforts!

Lucas said...

An Occupation Psychologist did one of the Progressive Matrices tests on me two months ago. I had one before that, aged 11. I was one question wrong from being in the 95th percentile, when I was 11 I was in the 92nd.

I wonder why it's always been popular to *make excuses* for Autistics getting good test scores?

Zilari said...

Congratulations indeed...this sort of thing serves a dual function of both advancing scientific understanding and helping to (hopefully) expunge bias.

Xeno said...

Great news! (I was wondering if there was a paper associated with that poster.)

Congratulations are definitely in order. I'm not much of a singer, but this is a special occasion.

For she's a jolly good scientist
For she's a jolly good scientist
For she's a jolly good scientiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiist
And so say all of us...

Come on, you all know the words!

-Paul

Tera said...

Congratulations! I'm definitely looking forward to the publication of your paper.

Michelle Dawson said...

Thanks for all the congratulations (including the musical one), which should go out to all the authors, as well as to everyone else who contributed to this paper.

Raven's Progressive Matrices isn't the only available test of fluid intelligence (there is the Cattell culture-fair test, e.g.), but RPM has existed for a very long time (since the 1930s), has stood up to massive amounts of scrutiny as to what it measures in non-autistics, and is widely (if not universally) considered to be the pre-eminent test of fluid intelligence.

I hope this paper will have the practical effect of making it less likely that autistics will be written off, as autistics are so routinely written off by autism advocates in Canada and elsewhere.

Unfortunately, most decisions made about autistics (in Canada at least) are not informed by either science or ethics, again thanks to autism advocates. I'm not sure anyone can change this at this point.

David N. Andrews MEd (Distinction) said...

"Raven's Progressive Matrices isn't the only available test of fluid intelligence (there is the Cattell culture-fair test, e.g.), but RPM has existed for a very long time (since the 1930s), has stood up to massive amounts of scrutiny as to what it measures in non-autistics, and is widely (if not universally) considered to be the pre-eminent test of fluid intelligence."

Correct.

The inclusion of the Matrix Reasoning subtest into the Wechsler suite is due to the utility of the Raven Progressive Matrices.

Another good thing about the RPM is that its use is not restricted to fully-trained psychologists: it is available for use by teachers, although - as I understand it - a psychologist has to interpret the results.

Phil Schwarz said...

Congratulations, Michelle!

Estee Klar-Wolfond said...

Excellent news. We need this.

Thomas Henderson said...

I can't wait to read the paper Michelle!