Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Visual skills required for independence are impaired in children with autism, research finds

Date:
December 30, 2010
Source:
University of Bristol
Summary:
The ability to find shoes in the bedroom, apples in a supermarket, or a favorite animal at the zoo is impaired among children with autism, according to new research from the UK. They are unable to search effectively for objects in real-life situations -- a skill that is essential for achieving independence in adulthood.

A participant activating a (red) target location in the search laboratory.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Bristol

The ability to find shoes in the bedroom, apples in a supermarket, or a favourite animal at the zoo is impaired among children with autism, according to new research from the University of Bristol. Contrary to previous studies, which show that children with autism often demonstrate outstanding visual search skills, this new research indicates that children with autism are unable to search effectively for objects in real-life situations -- a skill that is essential for achieving independence in adulthood.

Previous studies have tested search skills using table-top tasks or computers but none, until now, has tested how children with autism fare in a more true-to-life setting.

In a unique test room, 20 children with autism and 20 typical children of the same age and ability were instructed to press buttons on the floor to find a hidden target among multiple illuminated locations. Critically, these targets appeared more on one side of the room than the other.

A contemporary theory of autism (systematizing) states that these children are more sensitive to regularities within a system (for example, prime numbers, computer programmes and train timetables). Surprisingly, more 'systematic' behaviour was not observed in this test; children with autism were less efficient and more chaotic in their search. Compared to other children, they were slower to pick up on the regularities within the 'system' (e.g. which side of the room the lights could be found) that would help them choose where to search.

Together, these results strongly suggest that autistic children's ability to search in a large-scale environment is less efficient and less systematic than typical children's search. This has important implications for how well children with autism can cope independently in the real world if they struggle to navigate and search within a local environment and identify patterns within it.

Speaking about the findings, Professor Iain Gilchrist, one of the report's authors, said:

'This research was only possible because of the unique research facility we have in Bristol and the support we have received from the MRC, BBSRC and ESRC who funded the basic science that underpins these new findings.'

Dr Josie Briscoe another of the report's authors added:

'The ability to work effectively and systematically in these kind of tasks mirrors everyday behaviours that allow us to function as independent adults, and this research offers an exciting opportunity to explore underlying skills that could help people with autism achieve independence.'

The paper by Elizabeth Pellicano, Alastair D. Smith, Filipe Cristino, Bruce M. Hood, Josie Briscoe, and Iain D. Gilchrist is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Bristol. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Elizabeth Pellicano, Alastair D. Smith, Filipe Cristino, Bruce M. Hood, Josie Briscoe, and Iain D. Gilchrist. Children with autism are neither systematic nor optimal foragers. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2010; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1014076108

Cite This Page:

University of Bristol. "Visual skills required for independence are impaired in children with autism, research finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 December 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101220163103.htm>.
University of Bristol. (2010, December 30). Visual skills required for independence are impaired in children with autism, research finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101220163103.htm
University of Bristol. "Visual skills required for independence are impaired in children with autism, research finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101220163103.htm (accessed September 1, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Monday, September 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) Researchers say having a cup of coffee then taking a nap is more effective than a nap or coffee alone. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Young Entrepreneurs Get $100,000, If They Quit School

Young Entrepreneurs Get $100,000, If They Quit School

AFP (Aug. 29, 2014) Twenty college-age students are getting 100,000 dollars from a Silicon Valley leader and a chance to live in San Francisco in order to work on the start-up project of their dreams, but they have to quit school first. Duration: 02:20 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Baby Babbling Might Lead To Faster Language Development

Baby Babbling Might Lead To Faster Language Development

Newsy (Aug. 29, 2014) A new study suggests babies develop language skills more quickly if their parents imitate the babies' sounds and expressions and talk to them often. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Electrical Stimulation Boosts Brain Function, Study Says

Electrical Stimulation Boosts Brain Function, Study Says

Newsy (Aug. 29, 2014) Researchers found an improvement in memory and learning function in subjects who received electric pulses to their brains. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins