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2006Research Conference | June 15–16

This conference highlighted the work of invited speakers, independent researchers who have received grant funds from the Institute of Education Sciences, and trainees supported through predoctoral training grants and postdoctoral fellowships. The presentations are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the U.S. Department of Education or the Institute of Education Sciences.
Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill
400 New Jersey Avenue, N.W.
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Effective Intervention in School Settings Requires the Recognition of Individual Differences in Autism

Camilla Hileman, University of Miami
Courtney Burnette, University of North Carolina
Steve Sutton, University of Miami
Heather Henderson, University of Miami
Peter Mundy, University of Miami

Abstract: Effective intervention in school settings is made difficult because of the wide range of individual differences in people with autism. Some individuals are very active but odd in their social interactions. Other individuals are passive, aloof, and/or withdrawn. In order to work effectively with people with autism, we must know more about their individual differences. In a sequence of studies, we've begun to use EEG asymmetry as a biobehavioral marker of motivation to shed light on individual differences in autism. Individuals with left frontal asymmetry have fewer symptoms of social impairment. They have greater motivation to interact with others, but their social interactions are often odd or inappropriate. These individuals frequently experience secondary forms of psychopathology, such as depression and social anxiety, as they are more aware of and more troubled by their impairments in social interaction. Conversely, individuals with right frontal asymmetry have more symptoms of social impairment. They have less motivation to interact with others, and they rarely initiate social interactions. These individuals do not frequently experience secondary forms of psychopathology, as they are less aware of and less troubled by their impairments in social interaction. Knowledge of individual differences in autism can lead to positive outcomes on both the teacher and student levels. Teachers will be better able to understand, explain, and deal with the atypical behaviors of students with autism. Students will be able to experience interventions that target their individual differences, with some interventions decreasing social anxiety and depression and other interventions increasing social motivation.