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Durham University



Publication details for Professor Deborah Riby

Lough, E., Flynn, E. & Riby, D. M. (2015). Mapping real-world to online vulnerability in young people with developmental disorders: Illustrations from autism and Williams syndrome. Review Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 2(1): 1-7.

Author(s) from Durham


The Internet poses a new kind of threat, especially for those individuals already vulnerable in society. The current paper draws on the social phenotypes associated with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and Williams syndrome (WS) to propose that individuals with some developmental disorders face an elevated level of risk whilst online. Many individuals with ASD struggle to maintain social relations and are frequent users of screen-based technology, using the Internet to seek out social connections. Similarly, individuals with WS harbour an extreme pro-social drive to interact with others, both familiar and unfamiliar, and experience difficulties understanding the subtle nuances of social behaviour. Specific risk factors such as these are used to illustrate the case for online vulnerability in developmental disorders.

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