Autism or Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability caused by differences in the brain

Nigerian Scholar Wins UK Varsity Award for New Research on Autism

A Nigerian scholar, Samuel Fasanmi, has won an award at the University of Bradford, United Kingdom, for his new discovery in the study of autism.

Fasanmi, who hails from Ilogbo-Ekiti, won the award via his dissertation titled: “Retrospective Narratives Generated by Autistic and Non-autistic Individuals: How Are They Perceived and Evaluated?”

In the academic work, Fasanmi was said to have answered the “double empathy problem” differently by examining how “neurotypical” and autistic individuals would perceive narratives generated by autistic persons in a non-social setting.

“The study was a clear departure from Alkhaldi et al. (2021), where social setting was a factor. Due to the fact that both neurotypical and autistic people produce the narratives, it represents a methodical advancement over earlier research on readability issues relating to retrodiction.

“The cross-sectional study utilised secondary data and analysed 120 narratives that were generated by 20 participants with different autistic statuses,” a statement following the award stressed.

The Dean and Professor of Communication Economy at the Faculty of Management, Law, and Social Sciences, University of Bradford, Prof. Amir Sharif, announced  Fasanmi  as the winner of the Prize for Best Dissertation in MSc Psychology in a letter dated November 24, 2023.

Besides, the dissertation was supervised by Prof. Peter Mitchell, former Editor-in-Chief of the British Journal of Psychology (2007-2012), a British Psychological Society (BPS) flagship periodical and the current chair of the developmental section of the BPS.

The former Head of the School of Social Sciences and a visiting professor from Nottingham University, the statement said, could not hide his admiration for the Nigerian scholar. “The dissertation is an exemplary piece of work,” he said, describing Fasanmi as being “extremely professional and competent.”

“He remarked that Fasanmi did a great work and that he was happy to have such a capable student as good as Fasanmi,” it added.

The scholar got 79 per cent in his dissertation and a record landmark score of 76 per cent to clinch the prestigious award.

Fasanmi, who won a merit-based financial aid package of a $78,700 annual grant at Fordham University in the United States in July 2023, had obtained 13 different grants in the last 10 years.

Reacting to the news of the award, Fasanmi described his supervisor as “a mentor, top-notch academic, teacher, and a renowned professor of psychology.”

According to him, Mitchell had exuded “golden touches” in the field of developmental psychology and his particular interest in the mental health of autistic individuals was evident in the award-winning study.

He thanked the Vice Chancellor of the University of Bradford, Prof. Shirley Congdon; the Head of the Department of Psychology, Dr. Paul Sullivan; the Dissertation Coordinator, Dr. Eleanor Bryant and other lecturers in the Department of Psychology as well as his friends who supported him in achieving what was described as a “rare feat.”

According to the release, the thriving literature on double empathy gained another argument from Fasanmi, which might account for the participants’ unfavourable attitudes toward the texts they produced.

“The study contributed to the progress of methodology in psychology by being the first to examine different psychological themes derived from narratives produced by individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in a non-social environment, thus introducing a novel approach.

“Fasanmi creatively took out several psychological themes from the Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC) streams.

“These themes are cognition (Rosen et al., 2019), lifestyle (Bellon-Harn, 2022), emotion (Thin et al., 2018), social support (Saha & Agarwal, 2020), and affect (Bellon-Harn et al., 2019). This is a rare research ingenuity.

“The study supports Milton’s double empathy theory, as it supports the narrative states of both autistic and neurotypical narrators.

“However, the study found no interaction effect between narrative state and autistic status on linguistic patterns, indicating that linguistic patterns do not determine autistic status in non-social settings.

“The findings contribute to the ongoing debate on the relationship between autism and narrative states in language analysis and communication,” the statement added.

SOURCE: This Day