Short video-based autism acceptance training reduces explicit autism prejudices

Explicit prejudices about autism can be improved through autism acceptance training, which aims to improve knowledge and familiarity with autism. These results were published in Autism magazine.

Students (N = 238) were recruited from the University of Texas at Dallas. After a reading test, participants were randomly selected to receive autism acceptance training (n = 77), mental health training (n = 77), or no training (n = 84). The training conditions both included a 25-minute instructional video. Next, all participants watched 20 10-second videos of autistic adults participating in an untested, fake audition for a reality television show. Participants rated each video using the First Impressions Scale and were rated for their autism knowledge and stigma.

Participants had an average age of 21.5 years (standard deviation) [SD], 4.67) years, 69% were women, 40% were white, 39% were Asian and 8% were black.

Participants who received the autism training rated autistic individuals from the videos as significantly more intelligent (b, -0.47; P <0.001) and more attractive (b, -0.30; P = 0.016) than those who trained for had maintained mental health. Participants who received no training rated autistic subjects as more intelligent (b, -0.18; P = 0.042) than those who received mental health training.

Participants in the mental health cohort (b, -0.29; P = 0.021; b, -0.28; P = 0.038) and the control group (b, -0.30; P = 0.013; b, -0, 29; P = 0.017)) had less desire to hang out with the autistic persons or to start a conversation.

Those who received the autism training had a more accurate understanding of autism compared to mental health training (d, 0.59; P = 0.003), but not the control group (d, 0.35; P = 0.073).

Compared to the mental health group, the autism cohort was less of the opinion that autistic individuals were not interested in friendships (d, 0.85; P <0.001), had lower intelligence (d, 0.67; P <0.001), and were intentionally not cooperative (d, 0.48; P = 0.014) or showed no bonding behavior (d, 0.56; P = 0.003).

Autism training recipients had lower stigma against autism and were more likely to accept marriage or dating of an autistic individual than either mental health (d, 0.53; P = 0.007; 0.45; P = 0.022) or control (d, 0.45; P. = 0.036; d, 0.47; P = 0.020) groups.

There were significant negative correlations between autism stigma and knowledge (r, -0.41; P <0.01), working with specific levels of the functional scale (SLOF) (r, -0.38; P <0.01) and SLOF activities (r, -0.32) observed; P <0.01), SLOF acceptance (r, -0.27; P <0.01) and SLOF interpersonal (r, -0.17; P <0.01) values. Significant positive correlations between autism knowledge and SLOF activities (r, 0.39; P <0.01), SLOF work (r, 0.38; P <0.01), SLOF acceptance (r, 0, 31; P <0.01) and SLOF observed interpersonal (r, 0.21; P <0.01) results.

This study was limited in time and space. It remains unclear whether autism-related prejudices have been reduced in real situations over the long term.

These results suggest that brief video-based training can reduce the explicit tendency towards autism in young adults.


Jones DR, De Brabander KM, Sasson NJ. Effects of Autism Acceptance Training on Explicit and Implicit Prejudices against Autism. Autism. 2021; 1362361320984896. doi: 10.1177 / 1362361320984896

This article originally appeared on Psychiatry Advisor

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