Autism Journal Club

Does the High, Inflexible Precision of Prediction Errors in Autism (HIPPEA) theory truly capture the lived experiences of autistic individuals?

There is a lack of research that involves autistic individuals in building theoretical frameworks which limits the development of appropriate interventions and support. We wished to understand to what extent the HIPPEA theory resonates with the lived experiences of autistic individuals. Van de Cruys and colleagues (2014) argued that the differences in cognitive functioning, social functioning, sensorimotor abilities and reaction to sensory stimuli between individuals with autism and typically developing individuals can all be explained by the High, Inflexible Precision of Prediction Errors in Autism. They propose that autistic individuals allocate inflexibly high precision or, in simpler terms, give higher weight to prediction errors which arise from mismatches between their predictions and the incoming sensory input. Thus, even irrelevant information or noise can be considered important, causing autistic individuals to struggle with meta-learning (knowing what in the environment should be learned). To understand the extent that the HIPPEA theory resonates with autistic people, we created two online questionnaires: one for parents of autistic children and the other for adult autistic individuals. We provided individuals with a layman interpretation to the theory and vignettes that presented real-life examples and their interpretation through the theory. We also asked targeted questions to evaluate the way individuals would handle specific situations. I will present preliminary results through some of the thoughts of autistic individuals based on the vignettes and questions and discuss to what extent they agree or disagree with the HIPPEA theory.