Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Children with autism leave 'silly' out

Date:
April 8, 2013
Source:
Cell Press
Summary:
When a child with autism copies the actions of an adult, he or she is likely to omit anything "silly" about what they've just seen. In contrast, typically developing children will go out of their way to repeat each and every element of the behavior even as they may realize that parts of it don't make any sense.

When a child with autism copies the actions of an adult, he or she is likely to omit anything "silly" about what they've just seen. In contrast, typically developing children will go out of their way to repeat each and every element of the behavior even as they may realize that parts of it don't make any sense.
Credit: Current Biology, Marsh et al.

When a child with autism copies the actions of an adult, he or she is likely to omit anything "silly" about what they've just seen. In contrast, typically developing children will go out of their way to repeat each and every element of the behavior even as they may realize that parts of it don't make any sense.

Related Articles


The findings, reported in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on April 8, are the first to show that the social nature of imitation is very important and challenging for children with autism, the researchers say. They also emphasize just how important it is for most children to be like other people.

"The data suggest that children with autism do things efficiently rather than socially, whereas typical children do things socially rather than efficiently," says Antonia Hamilton of the University of Nottingham. "We find that typical children copy everything an adult does, whereas autistic children only do the actions they really need to do."

The researchers made the discovery after testing 31 children with autism spectrum conditions and 30 typically developing children who were matched for verbal mental age. On each of five trials, each child was asked to watch carefully as a demonstrator showed how to retrieve a toy from a box or build a simple object. Importantly, each demonstration included two necessary actions (e.g. unclipping and removing the box lid) and one unnecessary action (e.g. tapping the top of the box twice). The box was then reset behind a screen and handed to the child, who was instructed to "get or make the toy as fast as you can." They were not specifically told to copy the behavior they'd just seen.

Almost all of the children successfully reached the goal of getting or making the toy, but typically developing children were much more likely to include the unnecessary step as they did so, a behavior known as overimitation. Those children copied 43 to 57 percent of the unnecessary actions, compared to 22 percent in the children with autism. That's despite the fact that the children correctly identified the tapping action as "silly," not "sensible."

Hamilton says the researchers now want to know precisely what kind of actions children copy, and how that tendency to copy everything might contribute to human cultural transmission of knowledge. She says that parents and teachers should be aware of the social value in going beyond the successful completion of such tasks.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. L. Marsh, A. Pearson, D. Ropar, A. Hamilton. Children with autism do not overimitate. Current Biology, 2013 DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2013.02.036

Cite This Page:

Cell Press. "Children with autism leave 'silly' out." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 April 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130408123144.htm>.
Cell Press. (2013, April 8). Children with autism leave 'silly' out. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 27, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130408123144.htm
Cell Press. "Children with autism leave 'silly' out." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130408123144.htm (accessed January 27, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

City Divided: A Look at Model Schools in the TDSB

City Divided: A Look at Model Schools in the TDSB

The Toronto Star (Jan. 27, 2015) Model schools are rethinking how they engage with the community to help enhance the lives of the students and their parents. Video provided by The Toronto Star
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Technology Is Ruining Snow Days For Students

How Technology Is Ruining Snow Days For Students

Newsy (Jan. 25, 2015) More schools are using online classes to keep from losing time to snow days, but it only works if students have Internet access at home. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Weird Things Couples Do When They Lose Their Phone

Weird Things Couples Do When They Lose Their Phone

BuzzFeed (Jan. 24, 2015) Did you back it up? Do you even know how to do that? Video provided by BuzzFeed
Powered by NewsLook.com
Smart Wristband to Shock Away Bad Habits

Smart Wristband to Shock Away Bad Habits

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Jan. 23, 2015) A Boston start-up is developing a wristband they say will help users break bad habits by jolting them with an electric shock. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
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