ReproducibiliTea Blog

Replication in autism research | 21/04/23 | Michelle Dodd

In our April 2023 session of Edinburgh ReroducibiliTea, Michelle Dodd spoke about replication studies within autism research, and shared her personal experiences on why robust and reproducible autism research is important.

Michelle began with a short introduction explaining what common terms used by the autism community mean. From her slides:

  • Autism: a type of neurology that is characterised by social-communication differences and restricted, repetitive behaviours and interests.
  • Neurodiversity: naturally occurring different neurology which can strengthen society with their diversity. No way of being is better than another and minority neurotypes, such as autistic people, are subject to similar challenges and stigma as other minority groups.
  • Neurodivergent: a single person can’t be neurodiverse so they are neurodivergent (or neurotypical).

Previously, researchers thought that autistic people had communication deficits as autistic people often struggle to communicate with non-autistic people. However, we know that that’s not true because autistic people can communicate with each other. The communication differences between autistic and non-autistic people is known as the Double Empathy Problem.

The Double Empathy Problem was investigated in 2018 by Catherine Crompton, Sue Fletcher-Watson and others at the University of Edinburgh, which confirmed that autistic people have a different social interaction style, rather than a deficit, compared to non-autistic people (1).

Michelle is one of the researchers conducting a replication of this study. This time the team are taking an open research approach by publishing protocols on the Open Science Framework, writing a Registered Report, and increasing the sample size of participants (2).

Watch the recording of Michelle’s presentation on YouTube.


  1. Autistic peer-to-peer information transfer is highly effective
  2. Open science in experimental autism research: a replication study of information transfer within and between autistic and non-autistic people

This blog is written by Emma Wilson


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