Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 20, Issue 1, pp 101-114

Sustained attention in children with autism

  • Helen Bray GarretsonAffiliated withHillcrest Educational Center
  • , Deborah FeinAffiliated withBoston University School of Medicine and University of Connecticut
  • , Lynn WaterhouseAffiliated withTrenton State College

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Although many children with early infantile autism cannot maintain attention to externally imposed tasks, they may continue a repetitive behavior of their own choosing for long periods of time. This study examined the performance of autistic and mental age matched normal children on a Continuous Performance Test of sustained attention. Results suggest that autistic children's difficulties in sustaining attention on imposed tasks may be attributable partly to a developmental delay and partly to the motivational contingencies of task rather than to a primary impairment in the ability to sustain attention.