Autistica, the UK’s leading autism research charity are looking to recruit autistic children and children with an extra X or Y chromosome to take part in a new research project which is being carried out by the University of Oxford.

What is the research?

The research is investigating how children understand conversations. We know that vocabulary and grammar are important in understanding conversation, but social communication is likely to depend on more than just these two aspects.

For example, people need to understand how context is important in understanding why someone is saying something – for instance, if you say ‘dinner is on the table’, you are not so much telling your family where dinner is, as inviting your family to come and eat!

Currently, very little is known about how children develop the ability to understand meaning flexibly in conversation, and so we are exploring this.

Some children seem to have particular problems with social communication, as well as language more generally. It is known, for instance, that children with autism are more likely than other children to have problems with understanding conversation. Similarly, children with an extra X or Y chromosome are also more likely to have problems with language and social communication.

The study hopes that its findings will be useful in understanding more about the problems experienced by children with communication difficulties.

Who can take part in the study?

The study is inviting 50 children with autism and 50 children with an extra X or Y chromosome to take part in this research. As for children with an extra chromosome, any child with Klinefelter’s Syndrome (XXY), Triple X or XYY is eligible to take part.

All children taking part will need to be aged between 7;0 and 14;11 years and speak English as a first language. The children will also need to have no severe hearing/sight problems and no history of neurological illness, brain injury or any genetic conditions besides the extra chromosome.

Taking part in the study

If you would like to take part, you will be asked to indicate your consent on a form. You will be asked to do this twice: once when you first decide to participate and then a second time before your child starts the language activities (see below for details).

Even when you have consented to take part, you are still free to withdraw at any time, without giving a reason by advising the researcher of your decision

If you take part your family will receive a £10 Amazon voucher as a thank you for your time and effort

More information

If you are interested in taking part in the study please contact Alexander Wilson by email to or call 01865 271386

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