Seeking to more effectively characterize the population with autism by observing the strategies they use to fit into society
summary: Digging deeper into the phenomenon of social camouflage could help improve research on autism spectrum disorder.
Source: University of the Basque Country
In recent years there has been a lot of talk about camouflage in autism. However, research into camouflage is still relatively recent, its nature has only been studied with difficulty, and there are many open questions.
Therefore, this work aims to provide an integrative view of camouflage. It can be described as a set of strategies adopted by the autistic population to fit into the social world.
said Valentina Petrolini, a UPV/EHU researcher of the Lindy Lab Group and one of the study’s authors.
People usually cover themselves up with two goals: to hide their diagnosis and to socialize.
“We might say that people wander when they rehearse the conversations they’re going to have, when they imitate the gestures and expressions of others, and in general, when they make an effort to hide their autistic traits,” explained Valentina Petrolini.
The UPV/EHU researcher added: “Several studies associate these individuals’ attempt to distinguish themselves as who they are not with high levels of anxiety and long-term mental problems.”
How is camouflage detected in the autistic population? Tools, such as quizzes and questionnaires do exist now, but they ignore a high percentage of people on the spectrum, such as people who unconsciously hide themselves, people with intellectual and/or language disabilities, etc.
In this work, “we propose that information be triangulated using existing evidence, collecting information from the environment, observing a person’s behavior in different contexts and talking to people in different contexts… In other words, by observing the phenomenon of camouflage without first-hand,” Valentina Petrolini said.
Extending the study of camouflage to groups that are currently ignored also has major implications in terms of impact. This is why this study extends the discussion about camouflage to currently studied groups on the autism spectrum, namely children and adults with language and/or intellectual disabilities.
“We argue that the camouflage in these groups may differ from what the current literature describes as typical cases of camouflage,” said Valentina Petrolini.
Petrolini continued, “One of the points that emerged from our study is that camouflage may appear differently, and exert a different effect, depending on the people doing it.”
This purely theoretical work concludes that “the basis of much of the research conducted to date is limited to participant characterization and representation, which suggests that the findings cannot be applied to the autism community as a whole,” said Valentina Petrolini.
The work also highlights the need to explore the phenomenon of autism in greater depth and to develop measurement tools that are more accurate and comprehensive than existing ones.
“We could even say it’s a call to action so that general conclusions are not drawn without an accurate picture of the situation,” said the UPV/EHU Lindy Lab research group.
About this social neuroscience and autism research news
author: Macxalen Sotillo
Source: University of the Basque Country
Contact: Matxalin Sotelo – University of the Basque Country
picture: The image is in the public domain
Original search: open access.
“Autism camouflages across the spectrumBy Valentina Petrolini et al. New ideas in psychology
Autism camouflages across the spectrum
Camouflage can be described as a set of actions and strategies that some autistic people adopt more or less consciously to navigate the stereotypical social world. Despite the increased attention this phenomenon has gained, its nature remains elusive and in need of conceptual clarification.
In this paper, we aim to put forward a comprehensive view of autism that justices its complexity while also reflecting the heterogeneity of autism as a condition.
First, we give an overview of the main characteristics of camouflage. This overview shows that current descriptions fail to paint a coherent picture, and that different accounts emphasize different aspects of the phenomenon.
Second, we explore the similarity between camouflage and camouflage, which we consider illuminating to describe some forms of camouflage, while presumably obscuring the study of others.
Third, we extend the discussion about camouflage to currently understudied groups across the autism spectrum—that is, children and adults with language and/or intellectual disabilities.
We argue that camouflage in such groups may differ from what current literature describes as typical examples of camouflage.
We conclude by revisiting the nature of camouflage in light of such ill-studied populations, and offer some suggestions for how the research should proceed.