Thoughts after a talk by Michelle Dawson

Some thoughts, not yet expanded…

1. Autistic people have been shown to be more emotionally expressive than non-autistics, contrary to some stereotypes. In one experiment, they were also still less susceptible to a framing effect.

2. Seemingly narrow abilities can get one very far, e.g., spotting weird interpretations of results in papers; systematically cataloguing results. They are only “narrow” if judged that way.

3. Everyone needs to find their talents and spot and help cultivate talents in others. Autism is another more visible instance of this.

4. “Interventions” are often poor substitutes for mentoring relationships, which have been found to be so important in, e.g., apprenticeships, Oxbridge undergrad supervision, and PhD supervision elsewhere.

5. Opportunities to try things can be the best intervention.

6. Judgmental observation is a kind of interaction, as when you see something, a trait, behaviour, you assess to be negative, it’s difficult to avoid broadcasting your opinion, even if just in a brief facial expression. This affects the person you’ve just observed.

7. Verbal fluency is still over-emphasised in academia. Visuospatial processing, rapid categorisation, implicit learning – still computationally complex cognitive processes – are often undervalued.

8. Everyone has biases, e.g., results they want to be true, even those pointing out biases in others. That’s where debate and criticism from other folk who are less involved is crucial.

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