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 AD, Cristino F, Hood BM, Briscoe J, Gilchrist ID. Children with autism are neither systematic nor optimal foragers. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences [Internet]. 2011 ;108(1):421 - 426. Available from: http://www.pnas.org/content/108/1/421.abstract

Related News

A Spanish study investigating the effects of traffic-related air pollution on children walking to school has found higher levels of particulate matter and black carbon were associated with decreased growth in

Research using data from a population-based birth cohort from Rotterdam, in The Netherlands, has found that children exposed to higher levels of air pollution when they were in womb had significantly thinner cortex in several brain regions.

I've reported before on studies showing how gesturing can help children with mathematics and problem-solving. A new Australian study involving children aged 9-13 has found that finger-tracing has a similar effect.

Data from 1,895 fourth and fifth grade children living in El Paso, Texas has found that those who were exposed to high levels of motor vehicle emissions had significantly lower GPAs, even when accounting for other factors known to influence school performance.

Several recent studies add to the evidence that physical fitness boosts cognitive processing in children.

A gene linked to Alzheimer's has been linked to brain changes in childhood.

A study involving 362 children with reading problems has found that 16 weeks of daily 600 mg supplements of omega-3 DHA from algal sources improved their sleep. According to a sleep questionnaire filled out by parents, 40% of these children had significant sleep problems.

A new study claims to provide ‘some of the strongest evidence yet’ for the benefits of gesturing to help students learn.

A humanoid robot has been designed, and shows promise, for teaching joint attention to children with ASD. Robots are particularly appealing to children, and even more so to those with ASD.

A study involving 187 children and adolescents with multiple sclerosis, plus 44 who experienced their first neurologic episode (clinically isolated syndrome) indicative of MS, has found that 35% of those with MS and 18% of those with clinically isolated syndrome were cognitively impaired.

Pages

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