Researchers at Stanford University are recruiting autistic woman for a qualitative study of alexithymia (difficulty identifying and describing emotions). Our goal is to learn about participants’ experience of emotion on their own terms using self-report questionnaires and in-depth interviews. Alexithymia is highly prevalent among autistic individuals and is associated with emotional difficulties, mental health issues, and social challenges. We’re eager to learn from participants’ experiences and incorporate their perspectives into the research literature.
What are the goals of the study?
This study aims to elucidate autistic women’s lived experience of alexithymia: what emotion difficulties are like, how participants make sense of them, and how they cope. To our knowledge, this will be the first qualitative study of alexithymia, offering a novel opportunity to incorporate autistic women’s perspectives into the literature. We will also use our findings as a jumping-off point for future quantitative studies (i.e., generating hypotheses based on interviews and then exploring those in empirical projects).
What will happen during the visit or online?
Participants will fill out a 10-minute online questionnaire. Those who are eligible will be invited to a 45-60-minute interview over Zoom, during which they will be asked open-ended questions about their experience of naming and describing emotions.
How will this help families?
Alexithymia is common among autistic individuals and is associated with difficulties regulating emotions, empathizing, and interacting socially. Despite decades of research, alexithymia-specific interventions remain scarce. By incorporate the perspectives of those experiencing alexithymia into the literature, we hope to enhance scientists’ understanding of the trait and inform clinical guidelines and research priorities.