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Autistic Individuals and Scientists Conduct Research Together

Project at Freie Universität Berlin One of Its Kind in Germany

№ 48/2010 from Mar 03, 2010

Researchers from psychology and neuroscience along with autistic individuals have jointly founded the Autism Research Cooperation (AFK). Its aim is to discuss issues that are relevant to individuals with autism. Scientific publications, presentations at conferences, and the publication of information are all intended to contribute over the long term to increasing the quality of life for individuals with autism. The group includes 30 persons, 22 of whom are individuals with autism. Eight are researchers, some of them from the Languages of Emotion Cluster of Excellence.

An initial study by the group looked into the state of knowledge about autism at employment agencies in Berlin against the background that many people with autism are underemployed or unemployed despite having professional qualifications. The results showed that very few employees of the publicly funded employment agency in Berlin have any knowledge about autism. Thus, the incidence of autism is often underestimated. The difficulties people with autism have in social interaction – as the avoidance of eye contact – are rarely recognized as typical indications of autism. Therefore, the strengths of people with autism are often overlooked, e.g., accuracy and a good eye for detail. An information sheet put out by the AFK is intended to help reduce misunderstandings and prejudices.

Another study is examining knowledge about autism in other professions, including general practitioners and teachers.

Further Information

Isabel Dziobek
Languages of Emotion Cluster of Excellence at Freie Universität Berlin
Tel.: +49 (0)30 / 838-56472
Email: isabel.dziobek@fu-berlin.de