Social behavior is extremely complex and requires many brain systems to function correctly. For example, if someone has a weakness in brain systems for motor coordination, they might have trouble producing body language. If someone has sensory sensitivities they may avoid many social settings. For optimal social function, we need almost all brain systems to work smoothly.
Everyone with ASD has some type of social challenges, but also social strengths. And everyone is unique: the autism spectrum is extremely large and diverse. We think that some of the secrets of the biological underpinnings of ASD are hidden inside this diversity. We think that it is possible that the brains of individuals with ASD may possess different combinations of weaknesses and powers, which together affect social function in unique ways. This experiment will begin to test this hypothesis.
We also think that many people with ASD have developed ways to use their unique strengths to compensate for their unique difficulties. For example, someone who can't produce body language might be really good at verbal communication. Someone with sensory hypersensitivities may be an extremely good listener. We think that people who live with ASD on a daily basis have a lot of experience that neuroscientists haven't had access to, so we are very interested to hear your voice!
This research program focuses less on ASD as a uniform diagnosis, and more on the uniqueness of individuals with ASD and how this might be reflected in their brain function. This questionnaire is our first large-scale web-based anonymous study and will ask about your challenges and strengths in certain areas. We recommend using a computer or tablet as some questions are quite wide (we'll try to make future questionnaires more mobile-friendly!).
To participate you must be at least 18 years and have ASD (suspected ASD is okay). It takes about 15–20 min to complete the multiple-choice questions, but if you choose to write a lot in the optional text boxes, it may take longer. You have to complete it in one session, but there is no time-limit to the session. No data will be saved until you confirm submission on the final page, so you can exit any time by closing your browser window if you change your mind.
Best regards, Kajsa Igelstrom, PhDPrinceton Neuroscience Institutewww.kajsaigelstrom.com