Autism Articles

Fear of Parties: One Good Reason

Friday, December 16th, 2011

"Face" by Joyce J. Scott/Yale University Art Gallery

New research finds a small but significant correlation between social anxiety and ability to recognize faces.

Yes. Oh yes.

I don’t have severe social anxiety, but I do have some, and this gave me an aha! moment about it. I have a terrible time remembering faces.  Even famous people. I recognize George Clooney, easy. Matt Damon? Not so much. Meryl Streep, easy. Charlize Theron? Not so much.

Put me in a large party and I spend a lot of time pretending I remember people who remember me. People tend to be hurt and offended when you don’t remember meeting them and I don’t blame them. If you remind me where or how we met, I might remember (although my memory is crappy in many ways so maybe not). Every party is a minefield of not recognizing people I don’t know well. And this is not just a problem at parties. I didn’t recognize a neighbor the other day and what’s worse, I took a guess and was wrong. Ugh, ugh, ugh.

I never made the connection between my anxiety about parties and facial recognition, but this information fits with the satisfying click of a puzzle piece set in place.


Women in the Sciences: Fire Up Your Inner Dilbert

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

Dilbert lives.

The socially awkward engineer is turning up in research labs—and not only as the guy in the lab coat.

Research out of Cornell University and published in the journal of the International Society for Autism Research found that in male university students, systemizing (the skills of math and science) and empathizing (including such social skills as reading nonverbal signals) are on one scale: if they’re good at systemizing they’re not so good at empathizing. (Standard disclaimer: This does not apply to all engineer/science-type men.)

Women, on the other hand, could be good at both systematizing and empathizing; the two are on separate scales.

Actually, the researchers also checked digit (finger) ratios, a way of measuring the amount of androgens, such as testosterone, people were exposed to in utero. They found that women in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) were likely to have a masculine digit ratio.

So Dilberta lives, too. (Dilbertina?)


 

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