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Cambridge Laboratory for Research into Autism


It is now widely recognized that autism is a highly complex condition, that involves difficulties in social interaction and communication but also some strengths in certain aspects of memory, perception and detail processing. Our research considers whether the abilities and cognitive strengths of autism are causally related to the areas of difficulties in terms of underlying psychological and neural mechanisms. Our goal is to conduct highly precise research that provides useful data for informing targeted techniques and interventions to enhance the lives of people with autism. We have recently launched ConnectA, a new initiative to bring together families, teachers, clinicians and researchers with the explicit purpose to accelerate the development of effective interventions by facilitating communication of knowledge and information.

Knowledge of these main mechanisms will help to guide the much needed work on how to help children with autism cope with and learn well in school, adults to adapt to training courses and University life and teach industry about the needs of adults with autism in the workplace. However, each child and adult with autism is unique, and has their own skills and difficulties. This is a challenge for research: how can we discover what the main neurocognitive mechanisms of autism are, given the diverse range of skills and difficulties seen in different people with the condition? We use a variety of techniques in our research to tease apart neuropsychological processes that appear general to autism from those that seem to be related to a particular subset of children or adults. This individual differences approach is also useful in identifying possible subgroups with autism, leading to a greater understanding of the heterogeneity of the condition.