University Attendance Reduces Autistic Traits for Students on the Spectrum

August 07, 2023

Reduction Most Likely Due to Newly Gained Attention Switching Skills

A study conducted by researchers at Bar-Ilan University, Israel, discovered that students with autism reported a decrease in their self-reported autistic traits after attending university for one academic year. This new research found a robust reduction in autism trait levels in three out of five subscales (social skills, attention to detail and attention switching) of the Autism-Spectrum Quotient scale used to measure autistic traits. The authors claim that, unlike previous research, changes in anxiety or depressive symptoms cannot explain this reduction. Instead, they believe these improvements are due to advances in cognitive factors, particularly attention. The study’s findings indicate that young adults with autism can still make meaningful behavioral improvements after secondary school. The authors believe their results demonstrate that autism traits may be more malleable than previously thought. They call for further studies that could better characterize possible alterations in autistic characteristics over time as an expression of the broader autistic phenotype when individuals with autism transition to college, adulthood, and beyond.

Original Study

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