In Defense of Peculiarities: Measuring Perceptions of High-Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder as a Cognitive Style



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The association between high-functioning autism (HFA) and high cognitive granularity has led researchers to make the argument that HFA might be better conceptualized as a cognitive style rather than a cognitive deficit. Additionally, several studies have supported the notion that a brain whose neurology is locally biased emphasizes the integration of information among proximal elements, indicating that individuals with HFA live in a more peculiar, detail-oriented cognitive environment compared to neurotypicals. Unfortunately, communication of these paradigm-shifting findings to the public has been scarce. The current study sought to examine the perceived relationship between HFA and highly-granulated (atypical) style of cognitive processing within a sample of university students. Participants were randomly assigned to a psychoeducation or control condition and measured on their beliefs both before and after the respective presentations. Results showed no significant differences between groups. Implications of this research could be used to fuel the integration of HFA psychoeducation into society and could further encourage the formation of a more cohesive, positive perception of individuals with HFA and their respective cognitive style.



High-functioning autism, Autism spectrum disorders, Cognitive granularity, Perception