Thursday, July 05, 2007

Learning in autism

Dawson, M., Mottron, L., & Gernsbacher, M. A. (in press). Learning in autism. In J. H. Byrne (Series Ed.) & H. Roediger (Vol. Ed.), Learning and memory: A comprehensive reference: Cognitive psychology. New York: Elsevier.

This book chapter, mostly written circa the fall of 2006, was accepted for publication recently. It's more like an encyclopedia entry, where there are four volumes to the (very ambitious, and expensive) encyclopedia, encompassing some 159 articles and more than 3,000 pages. So far as I know, this encyclopedia is scheduled to be published in early 2008. It should also be published online, making individual articles available.

Our piece of the encyclopedia was limited to ~6,000 words, which wasn't nearly enough, particularly given that we had to write for a general readership (which may or may not have any knowledge of autism).

Researching and writing this review article was a both an enormous challenge and a fantastic opportunity. Whatever its limitations (I never have any difficulty spotting limitations in my work or work I'm involved in), I hope our short overview of a neglected area of research will encourage a more systematic and rigorous study of learning in autism, of how and why autistics learn well and learn poorly.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wow! What a fantastic resource....

The price tag is rather daunting though and falls outside of my budget. Do you think that the work that you contributed to the volume will be available as a "stand alone" article or chapter (perhaps as a "pay pe view" option)? I hope the local Univsersity picks up a copy of the entire publication. Likely enough material to keep me reading for a year or more.


Dave C.

Michelle Dawson said...

Hi Dave C,

In my original post, I wrote about the encyclopedia, "It should also be published online, making individual articles available."

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

To be honest, I'd be very interested in seeing that article.

Sharon said...

Thanks for highlighting this Michelle.
I will be keen to read the chapter when it's made available.

Ms. Clark said...

I can't wait to read it. It's in English!! :-)

mcewen said...

Online works for me - do we really have to wait until 2008?
Cheers

leila said...

Michelle, I'd love for you to meet my autistic preschooler son. His intelligence is really unique, and I wish I could learn more about the best methods for teaching him new concepts. It seems like he can learn anything - if he wants to. When he's interested in a subject, or motivated, he learns extremely fast (and with great pleasure) and remembers it forever. He's persistent, perfectionist, and always wants to do his best (for instance, he "practices" speaking a word that is hard to pronounce until he can do it right, and keeps drawing a picture or writing a letter until he's satisfied with the result).

If you ever come to California (I'm in the MIND Institute area) please let us know, I'd love to meet you and your colleagues.

Anonymous said...

Ms. Dawson,

My "used" copy of "Learning and Memory" came in the mail yesterday, and I immediately turned to "Learning in Autism," my main purpose in purchasing the set.

The best way to explain the way I feel about it would be to say:

It made my heart sing!!

It was a joy and a relief to see science alive and growing. To see such a significant volume be touched by reason, and it leads me to a deep desire to see this work influence psychiatrists, therapists, parents, and ultimately the perceptions of all people regarding differences in learning. And I have faith that it can and will ultimately have a rippling influence on the developing attitudes surrounding the perception of autism. It was a great responsibility and I can see the limitation of space, yet you and Dr. Gernsbacher did it justice.

"More power to You!"

Respectfully,
~jed

ps. if this article becomes available online, please link it from your blog so that others can come apon it. :)

Michelle Dawson said...

Thanks so much Jed. I'm definitely blushing! At least, after taking the trouble to buy the whole encyclopedia, you weren't disappointed.

On my main blog page (as well as on the index page of the No Autistics Allowed site), I have a link to my CV (papers and presentations). From there you can get a preprint draft (which has many small differences compared to the final version) of the learning chapter, which is for the time being up on Morton Gernsbacher's site (see her autism research section), which I also link to.

You can get other papers from both my CV and Dr Gernsbacher's autism research page, if you're interested.

For finding papers, I generally suggest doing Google searches of the titles of the papers you are looking for. Often enough, you can find free pdfs of draft or in press versions or even of final papers.

E.g., I just very recently noticed a pdf of our EPF paper (Mottron et al., 2006) has been posted by a university which uses it in coursework (it's here, at least, for now...).

Many scientists post free pdfs of some, most or all of their own papers (including book chapters), in various formats, on their academic websites. And more and more published papers are being made available free through PubMed Central (a great resource), open access journals or issues, etc.

Anonymous said...

Thanks!

~jed