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Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 42, Issue 12, pp 2739–2753 | Cite as

Is Talent in Autism Spectrum Disorders Associated with a Specific Cognitive and Behavioural Phenotype?

  • Emily Bennett
  • Pamela Heaton
Original paper

Abstract

Parents of 125 children, adolescents and young adults with autism spectrum disorders completed a newly developed questionnaire aimed at identifying cognitive and behavioural characteristics associated with savant skills in this group. Factors distinguishing skilled individuals were then further investigated in case studies of three individuals with exceptional skills for music, art and mathematics. The findings from the case studies largely confirmed the results from the questionnaire study in showing that special skills are associated with superior working memory and highly focused attention that is not associated with increased obsessesionality. Although intellectual impairment and a local bias have been widely associated with special skills in the savant literature, neither the screening nor case studies provided strong evidence for such associations.

Keywords

Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) Special skills Savants Weak central coherence Memory Intelligence 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Psychology Department, GoldsmithsUniversity of LondonLondonUK

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