Investigating Information and Skilltransfer in Neurodiverse Groups Using Diffusionchain Methodology: A Replication Study
TWCF Number
Project Duration
August 1 / 2021
- July 31 / 2024
Core Funding Area
Big Questions
Amount Awarded

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Catherine Crompton
Institution University of Edinburgh

In their recent Diverse Intelligences project, Catherine Crompton and Susan Fletcher-Watson found that an autism-specific environment facilitates interaction for autistic people. The research uncovered key findings:

  1. Autistic people transfer information to and from other autistic people as effectively as non-autistic people share information with each other.
  2. Information sharing selectively breaks down when when one person is autistic and the other non-autistic.
  3. Feelings of rapport between people of the same neurotype accompanying these info-sharing benefits.
  4. External observers can detect the lack of rapport in mixed interactions.

These results challenge conventional assumptions about autistic communicative abilities. They stand in direct opposition to the diagnostic criteria for autism and provide ground-breaking evidence that autistic people have a specific form of social intelligence. This has profound implications for the characterization of autism as a disorder, with practical implications for policy makers, practitioners, educators, clinicians and psychologists. But before pushing for dramatic changes in policy, the experiments will need to be replicated.

In this follow-on project, the team aims to replicate Diversity in Social Intelligence in two countries. This will allow the researchers to see whether their findings are replicable in new samples and locations. Regardless of the results, the project will provide new insights into how autistic people interact with each other and non-autistic people. The team has pre-registered the study on the Open Science Framework here.

Outputs will include public communications, papers published in high-impact journals, an online digital training module for practitioners, and reports designed to influence policy and practice. The audience includes academics, clinicians, educators, autistic people, and the wider public. The team expects this innovative inquiry will inspire further academic investigation of neurodiverse intelligences. By contributing to a broader reconsideration of autistic intelligence and communications, the research will impact clinical practice, education, and public policy. ​

Project Resources

Preprint: Although autistic adults may establish better dyadic rapport with autistic relative to non-autistic partners, it is unclear whether this extends to group settings. The current study examined whether rapport differs between autistic groups, non-autistic groups, and mixed groups of autistic and non-autistic adults, and whether differing diagnostically from the rest of the group results in lower rapport.

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