Neighborhood Publication: Autistic health-care wants, questioning brain-to-brain synchrony | Spectrum

Illustration by Laurenne Boglio

Tweets in the autism research sphere during the first week of March have come in like a lion, roaring — over gaps in clinical care for autistic people, gaps in understanding and gaps in evidence.

Mary Doherty, founder of Autistic Doctors International and a consultant anesthetist at Our Lady’s Hospital in Navan, Ireland, tweeted about a new paper in which she and her colleagues surveyed autistic people about their access to medical care. The majority reported difficulty seeing a general practitioner and having an untreated mental health condition; about a third reported having an untreated potentially life-threatening condition.

New paper in @BMJ_Open from @DoctorsAutistic research team
80% of #Autistic people have difficulty attending a GP
69% report an untreated mental health condition
34% report untreated potentially life threatening condition#AutisticHealthcare matters#Autism understanding is key

— Mary Doherty ???????? (@AutisticDoctor) February 23, 2022

“Adjustments for autism-specific needs are as necessary as ramps for wheelchair users,” the abstract concludes. In a separate tweet of Altmetric scores, which track mentions of a paper across the web, Doherty noted that it was good to see the paper was drawing attention and putting a spotlight on autistic health care.

Glad to see the impact of our recent papers increasing. All #openaccess & freely available to everyone because:#AutisticHealthcare matters

Links at or @SueMcCowan1 @DoctorsAutistic

— Mary Doherty ???????? (@AutisticDoctor) March 2, 2022

“There are some heartbreaking findings, but it should be a wake-up call for health services as to how they aren’t caring for autistic patients,” Felicity Sedgewick, lecturer in psychology of education at Bristol University in the United Kingdom, wrote in a quote tweet.

Steven Kapp, an autistic lecturer in psychology at the University of Portsmouth in the UK, tweeted about a free online conference on the condition’s double empathy problem, scheduled for 17 March.

Conference on autism’s double empathy problem, with many leading academics, hosted by @e_mine_gurbuz and co-hosted by @DrBeatriz_Lopez and I with the support of @HRadders and @elinorlim_ , and chaired by @milton_damian.
Free and online, 9:50 am – 5:30 pm UK time on Th, 17 March.

— Steven Kapp (@drstevenkapp) March 1, 2022

For anyone unable to attend, it will be recorded, tweeted co-host Emine Gurbuz, also a lecturer in psychology at the University of Portsmouth.

Yes, it will be recorded and I will share it with you after the conference.

— Emine Gurbuz (she/her) (@e_mine_gurbuz) March 1, 2022

The double empathy gap may lead to a lack of connection, but some research suggests that social engagement prompts people’s brains to synchronize. Science writer Rolf Degen tweeted that science and the media have likely overhyped the idea of ​​’interbrain synchrony,’ commenting on a new paper about HyPyp, a hyperscanning python pipeline developed to analyze the phenomenon.

In recent years, neuroscientists and the media have made enthusiastic claims about the marvels of “interbrain synchrony”. It might just be another house of cards, held together haphazardly by tunnel vision and statistical trickery.

— Rolf Degen (@DegenRolf) February 28, 2022

Guillaume Dumas, assistant professor of computational psychiatry at the Université de Montréal in Canada, cautioned that it may be too soon to “throw the baby [out] with the bathwater.”

Baruch Eitam, associate professor of psychology at the University of Haifa in Israel, commented that the literature around studying brain patterns across participants has “many aspects of what [statistician] Andrew Gelman would call ‘dead on arrival.’

A skeptical Geoff Bird, professor of cognitive neuroscience at the University of Oxford in the UK, chimed in, “I guess you give it the benefit of the doubt in case you can be convinced though.”

That’s it for this week’s Community Newsletter! If you have any suggestions for interesting social posts you saw in the autism research sphere, feel free to send an email to

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