Children with autism lack visual skills required for independence

February, 2011

Autism is popularly associated with intense awareness of systematic regularities, but a new study shows that the skill displayed in computer tasks is not available in real-world tasks.

Contrary to previous laboratory studies showing that children with autism often demonstrate outstanding visual search skills, new research indicates that in real-life situations, children with autism are unable to search effectively for objects. The study, involving 20 autistic children and 20 normally-developing children (aged 8-14), used a novel test room, with buttons on the floor that the children had to press to find a hidden target among multiple illuminated locations. Critically, 80% of these targets appeared on one side of the room.

Although autistics are generally believed to be more systematic, with greater sensitivity to regularities within a system, such behavior was not observed. Compared to other children, those with autism were slower to pick up on the regularities that would help them choose where to search. The slowness was not due to a lack of interest — all the children seemed to enjoy the game, and were keen to find the hidden targets.

The findings suggest that those with ASD have difficulties in applying the rules of probability to larger environments, particularly when they themselves are part of that environment.

Reference: 

[2055] Pellicano, E., Smith A. D., Cristino F., Hood B. M., Briscoe J., & Gilchrist I. D.
(2011).  Children with autism are neither systematic nor optimal foragers.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 108(1), 421 - 426.

Related News

A review of 10 observational and four intervention studies as said to provide strong evidence for a positive relationship between physical activity and academic performance in young people (6-18).

Is there, or is there not, a gender gap in mathematics performance? And if there is, is it biological or cultural?

In yet another study of the effects of pollution on growing brains, it has been found that children who grew up in Mexico City (known for its very high pollution levels) performed significantly worse on cognitive tests than those from Polotitlán, a city with a strong air quality rating.

Math-anxiety can greatly lower performance on math problems, but just because you suffer from math-anxiety doesn’t mean you’re necessarily going to perform badly.

Data from parents and teachers of 2000 randomly selected children has revealed that only 29% of children with attention problems finished high school compared to 89% of children without such problems. When it came to hyperactivity, the difference was smaller: 40% versus 77%.

In the study, 18 children (aged 7-8), 20 adolescents (13-14), and 20 young adults (20-29) were shown pictures and asked to decide whether it was a new picture or one they had seen earlier.

Brain imaging data from 103 healthy people aged 5-32, each of whom was scanned at least twice, has demonstrated that wiring to the

One survey of nearly 200 undergraduate college students who were not living with a parent or legal guardian found that 55% reported getting less than seven hours sleep. This is consistent with other surveys.

Childhood amnesia — our inability to remember almost everything that happened to us when very young — is always interesting. It’s not as simple as an inability to form long-term memories.

Following several recent studies pointing to the negative effect of air pollution on children’s cognitive performance (see this April 2010 news report and

Pages

Subscribe to Latest newsSubscribe to Latest newsSubscribe to Latest health newsSubscribe to Latest news