The Public Perception of Autism.
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121 participants completed measures assessing their emotional response and behavioural intentions towards a video clip portraying an individual with autism. Four conditions were used to examine how age of target individual shown in the clip (child or adult) and the provision of information (informed or uninformed) influenced attitudes. Additionally participants’ knowledge of autism, autistic tendencies and exposure to autism were also measured. In the absence of literature on the different attitudes expressed towards adults and children with autism, the study revealed adults were more positively viewed than children with autism, but there was no effect of providing information of an autism diagnosis. Interestingly, results indicated that the more autistic tendencies a participant had the less sympathy and helping but greater fear they expressed towards the autistic individual. The practical implications of these novel findings are discussed, with particular focus on the impact of our findings on the different attitudes elicited for adults and children with autism.