Aim of the project

The hyper-systemizing theory of autism suggests that autistic individuals perform better, on average, on tests of systemizing, which involves pattern recognition and excellent attention to detail. Systemizing is the drive to analyse and build systems in order to understand the laws that underlie specific systems. Several lines of evidence suggest that factors that contribute to likelihood of autism also contribute to talent in areas of systemizing, including aptitude in the domains of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

In this research, using data from the Swedish population registry, researchers will investigate if mothers of autistic children are more likely to work in STEM professions compared to other professions. The focus will be on mothers of autistic children as the female protective effect suggests that higher genetic liability is needed for women to receive an autism diagnosis. It is likely that mothers of autistic children carry higher genetic liability for autism than the general population but are not themselves diagnosed as being autistic.

Importance of research

This project will raise awareness and acceptance of autistic people in society. The impact of this will be reducing stigma and promoting inclusion.

Outcomes from this project will contribute to national and international health policy on autism as well as public debate. The research has the potential to improve professional training, change attitudes across society and reduce the isolation and exclusion that autistic people often face.

Researchers involved

  • Elizabeth Weir

  • Dr Carrie Allison

  • Dr Varun Warrier

Key findings

This will be a 1 year study starting September 2019