‘Autistic’ Local Processing Bias also Found in Children Gifted in Realistic Drawing

  • Jennifer E. DrakeEmail author
  • Amanda Redash
  • Katelyn Coleman
  • Jennifer Haimson
  • Ellen Winner
Original paper


We investigated whether typically-developing children with a gift for drawing realistically show the local processing bias seen in individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Twenty-seven 6–12 year-olds made an observational drawing (scored for level of realism) and completed three local processing tasks, and parents completed the Childhood Asperger Syndrome Test (CAST). Drawing score predicted local processing performance on all tasks independently of verbal IQ, age, and years of art lessons. Drawing score also predicted more frequent repetitive behaviors as assessed by the CAST. Thus, skill in realistic drawing is associated with a strong local processing bias and a tendency towards repetitive behaviors, showing that traits found in individuals with ASD irrespective of artistic talent are also found in typically developing children with artistic talent.


Autism Perceptual cohesiveness Giftedness Drawing 



We thank John Goodnough and Joanne Leunig, Director and Manager, respectively, of ActonArt Drawing School, Acton, Massachusetts; Laura-Marie Small of Kidcasso Art Studio in Wakefield, Massachusetts; and Pat Walker, Director of Education at the Danforth Museum of Art, Danforth, Massachusetts, for opening their doors to us and generously allowing us to test the children in their programs.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jennifer E. Drake
    • 1
    Email author
  • Amanda Redash
    • 1
  • Katelyn Coleman
    • 1
  • Jennifer Haimson
    • 1
  • Ellen Winner
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyBoston CollegeChestnut HillUSA
  2. 2.Project ZeroHarvard Graduate School of EducationCambridgeUSA

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