Autistic Socialisation & Rapport

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Full paper: https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/aut.2021.0017

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Who: Rifai and colleagues
Journal: Autism in Adulthood
Published: 2021
Title: Investigating markers of rapport in autistic and nonautistic interactions

Autistic Socialisation
& Rapport

Rapport is a quality of interaction between two people, and it’s often measured using elements such as attentiveness, positivity, and coordination.

Autistic people report that socialising with other autistic people is more comfortable & less tiring than socialising with nonautistic people. Do autistic people have higher rapport with other autistic people?

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This study investigated rapport by using videos from a previous study of nonautistic-nonautistic interactions, autistic-autistic interactions, and mixed pair interactions.

They measured two elements;
– mutual gaze: the extent to which they looked at one another’s face
– backchanneling: a verbal or non-verbal response which shows one is attentive & makes the speaker feel understood

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Nonautistic pairs had high mutual gaze, high backchannelling, & high rapport.

Compared to nonautistic pairs, mixed pairs had lower mutual gaze, lower backchannelling, & lower rapport.

Compared to nonautistic pairs, autistic pairs had similar amounts of mutual gaze, lower backchannelling, but they had equally high rapport.

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It seems that successful autistic interactions are less reliant on nonautistic social norms than nonautistic interactions are.

It might be that a mismatch in mutual gaze or backchannelling use between autistic & nonautistic people might contribute to the low levels of rapport felt in mixed interactions.

Further research is required to explore autistic specific mechanisms which contribute to successful social interaction.

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