Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Inflexibility may give pupils with autism problems in multitasking

Date:
August 15, 2011
Source:
University of Strathclyde
Summary:
Young people with autism may find it difficult to multitask because they stick rigidly to tasks in the order they are given to them, according to new research.

Young people with autism may find it difficult to multitask because they stick rigidly to tasks in the order they are given to them, according to research led by an academic at the University of Strathclyde.

The study also found that difficulty with 'prospective memory'- remembering to carry out their intentions- may contribute to the challenges they face.

The researchers presented the pupils with a series of tasks, such as collecting and delivering a book and making a cup of hot chocolate, to be carried out within a time limit of eight minutes. These activities were carried out in a computer-generated virtual environment.

They found that the pupils did not appear to deviate from the order in which the tasks were listed, although doing so could have saved them time. They also broke several rules for the tasks, notably only being allowed to go up one staircase and down another.

An equal number of pupils with and without autism spectrum disorders (ASD) took part in the study. The researchers will be exploring further the causes of the pupils' problems with multitasking, in areas such as planning, memory, time pressure and inhibitory control.

Dr Gnanathusharan Rajendran, a lecturer in Psychology at Strathclyde, led the research, which also involved the University of Edinburgh and Liverpool John Moores University. He said: "Our research offers a real insight into the problems young people with autism have with multitasking and points the way to further investigation for possible solutions. By using, for the first time, a virtual environment, we have been able to examine what may lie behind these problems more closely than might be possible in a real-world setting.

"The pupils with autism achieved tasks when they were given to them singly but difficulties emerged when they were asked to interleave the tasks with each other. There was no difference in the time taken by the groups but the pupils with autism completed fewer tasks.

"The exercise could help to deal with these multitasking problems. The tasks or their environment could be changed to see if there is any influence on the outcomes and they could also be a tool for teaching and training."

Dr Rajendran's co-researchers were: Diane Fraser at Strathclyde; Professor Robert Logie, Marian van der Meulen and Dr Martin Corley at Edinburgh, and Dr Anna Law at John Moores. Professor Logie and Dr Law developed the tasks used in the virtual environment.

The research was supported by a Research and Development Fund grant from the University of Strathclyde and the University of Edinburgh's Development Trust Research Fund; and by a grant from the Leverhulme Trust.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Gnanathusharan Rajendran, Anna S. Law, Robert H. Logie, Marian Meulen, Diane Fraser, Martin Corley. Investigating Multitasking in High-Functioning Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorders Using the Virtual Errands Task. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 2010; DOI: 10.1007/s10803-010-1151-3

Cite This Page:

University of Strathclyde. "Inflexibility may give pupils with autism problems in multitasking." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 August 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110815143942.htm>.
University of Strathclyde. (2011, August 15). Inflexibility may give pupils with autism problems in multitasking. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110815143942.htm
University of Strathclyde. "Inflexibility may give pupils with autism problems in multitasking." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110815143942.htm (accessed September 24, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Food Addiction Might Be Caused By PTSD

Food Addiction Might Be Caused By PTSD

Newsy (Sep. 18, 2014) New research shows that women who suffer from PTSD are three times more likely to develop a food addiction. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Corporal Punishment on Decline, Debate Renews

Corporal Punishment on Decline, Debate Renews

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Corporal punishment in the United States is on the decline, but there is renewed debate over its use after Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was charged with child abuse. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
FDA Eyes Skin Shocks Used at Mass. School

FDA Eyes Skin Shocks Used at Mass. School

AP (Sep. 15, 2014) The FDA is considering whether to ban devices used by the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center in Canton, Massachusetts, the only place in the country known to use electrical skin shocks as aversive conditioning for aggressive patients. (Sept. 15) Video provided by AP
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

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