Autism affects how someone makes sense of the world around them. About 1–2% of people are autistic. You might have an autistic classmate or family member, or maybe you are autistic. Autistic people might communicate differently than people who are not autistic. This means that it can be difficult for other people to understand what autistic people are trying to say or what they mean. We tend to think that people who are not autistic might be more successful at understanding other people, but in fact, autistic people may be better understood by other autistic people. We will examine and explain some research that has explored how autistic and non-autistic people communicate with each other and explore how this research fits with a theory called the double empathy problem. Understanding what makes interaction comfortable and easy for different people can help us all understand each other better.
Postnatal/postpartum depression (PND/PPD) had a pre-COVID-19 estimated prevalence ranging up to 23% in Europe, 33% in Australia, and 64% in America, and is detrimental to both mothers and their infants. Low social support is a key risk factor for developing PND. From an evolutionary perspective this is perhaps unsurprising, as humans evolved as cooperative childrearers, inherently reliant on social support to raise children. The coronavirus pandemic has created a situation in which support from social networks beyond the nuclear family is likely to be even more important to new mothers, as it poses risks and stresses for mothers to contend with; whilst at the same time, social distancing measures designed to limit transmission create unprecedented alterations to their access to such support. Using data from 162 mothers living in London with infants aged ≤6 months, we explore how communication with members of a mother’s social network related to her experience of postnatal depressive symptoms during the first “lockdown” in England. Levels of depressive symptoms, as assessed via the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale, were high, with 47.5% of the participants meeting a ≥11 cut-off for PND. Quasi-Poisson regression modelling found that the number of network members seen in-person, and remote communication with a higher proportion of those not seen, was negatively associated with depressive symptoms; however, contact with a higher proportion of relatives was positively associated with symptoms, suggesting kin risked seeing mothers in need. Thematic qualitative analysis of open text responses found that mothers experienced a burden of constant mothering, inadequacy of virtual contact, and sadness and worries about lost social opportunities, while support from partners facilitated family bonding. While Western childrearing norms focus on intensive parenting, and fathers are key caregivers, our results highlight that it still “takes a village” to raise children in high-income populations and mothers are struggling in its absence.
In the wake of the pandemic, I have seen more kids struggle than ever before. It is hard to return all the phone calls from parents of children and teens who are struggling and need a psychiatrist. And never before have I seen cautionary outcomes from research align as closely to my real-life experience as a clinician. The patients in my practice who made suicide attempts during the pandemic all shared common characteristics. They were all gender-questioning adolescents whose parents refused to use their preferred name or pronoun and did not allow them to dress and wear their hair in the style of their preferred gender.
Emotion-processing impairment represents a risk factor for the development of somatic illness, affecting negatively both health-related quality of life (HRQoL) and disease management in several chronic diseases. The present pilot study aims at (i) investigating the associations between alexithymia and depression, anxiety, and HRQoL in patients with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (HT); (ii) examining the association between these three psychological conditions together with HRQoL, and thyroid autoantibodies status as well as thyroid echotexture in patients with HT; and (iii) comparing the intensity of all these clinical psychological features in patients with HT versus controls. Twenty-one patients with serologically or ultrasonographically verified HT and 16 controls with non-toxic goiter or postsurgical hypothyroidism were recruited for this study. Serum thyrotropin (TSH) and free thyroxine, as well as thyroid autoantibodies (thyroglobulin antibodies and thyroid peroxidase antibodies), were assayed. Alexithymia, depression, anxiety, and HRQoL were assessed with Toronto Alexithymia Scale; Beck Depression Inventory, second edition; Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale; and Health Survey Short-Form 36, respectively. A negative relationship between the difficulty to describe feelings and the cognitive component of depression was found ( r = -0.46, p = 0.04). Besides, patients with seronegative HT had lower somatic anxiety than patients with HT who tested positive ( r = -0.68, p = 0.01 and r = -0.59, p = 0.04, respectively). Besides, no statistically significant difference was found between patients with HT and controls with regard to somatic anxiety. The present study suggests the relevance of alexithymia in patients suffering from HT, which may be intertwined with a possible state of underreported depression that is mainly expressed through physical complaints. Promoting the capability to describe and communicate feelings could contribute to psychological elaboration and coping with the disease and, consequently, to the improvement of self-management and perceived HRQoL.
Sociocultural influences on the development of child language skills have been widely studied, but the majority of the research findings were generated in Northern contexts. The current crosslinguistic, multisite study is the first of its kind in South Africa, considering the influence of a range of individual and sociocultural factors on expressive vocabulary size of young children. Caregivers of toddlers aged 16 to 32 months acquiring Afrikaans ( n = 110), isiXhosa ( n = 115), South African English ( n = 105), or Xitsonga ( n = 98) as home language completed a family background questionnaire and the MacArthur-Bates Communicative Development Inventory (CDI) about their children. Based on a revised version of Bronfenbrenner’s (1977) ecological systems theory, information was obtained from the family background questionnaire on individual factors (the child’s age and sex), microsystem-related factors (the number of other children and number of adults in the child’s household, maternal level of education, and SES), and exosystem-related factors (home language and geographic area, namely rural or urban). All sociocultural and individual factors combined explained 25% of the variance in expressive vocabulary size. Partial correlations between these sociocultural factors and the toddlers’ expressive vocabulary scores on 10 semantic domains yielded important insights into the impact of geographic area on the nature and size of children’s expressive vocabulary. Unlike in previous studies, maternal level of education and SES did not play a significant role in predicting children’s expressive vocabulary scores. These results indicate that there exists an interplay of sociocultural and individual influences on vocabulary development that requires a more complex ecological model of language development to understand the interaction between various sociocultural factors in diverse contexts.