Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 45, Issue 6, pp 1751–1765 | Cite as

Sketching to Remember: Episodic Free Recall Task Support for Child Witnesses and Victims with Autism Spectrum Disorder

  • Michelle L. A. Mattison
  • Coral J. Dando
  • Thomas C. Ormerod
Original Paper


Deficits in episodic free-recall memory performance have been reported in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), yet best practice dictates that child witness/victim interviews commence with a free-recall account. No ‘tools’ exist to support children with ASD to freely recall episodic information. Here, the efficacy of a novel retrieval technique, Sketch reinstatement of context (Sketch-RC), is compared with mental reinstatement of context and a no support control. Ninety children (45 with ASD; 45 matched typically developing) viewed a stimulus film, and were interviewed using one of the aforementioned techniques. The Sketch-RC technique was most effective, improving ASD participants’ remembering without a concomitant increase in intrusions. This procedure offers a population-appropriate method for supporting free recall in criminal justice settings.


Autism spectrum disorder Cognitive interview Drawing Free recall Eyewitness 



Conducting psychological research with some of the most vulnerable people in society is extremely challenging, but we believe that it adds value to the lives of those who are all too often overlooked. We would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to all of those who trusted us to work with their children. In particular, Cyndy Humphreys from the Tuition and Medical Behaviour Support Service, Shropshire; the children and staff at Hook-a-Gate Education Centre; Michelle Frost, and the children and staff at Platt Bridge Community School, Wigan; and also, the children and staff at: LVS Hassocks, West Sussex; Patcham House School, East Sussex; and Brychall High School, Wigan.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michelle L. A. Mattison
    • 1
  • Coral J. Dando
    • 2
  • Thomas C. Ormerod
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of ChesterChesterUK
  2. 2.Institute of PsychologyUniversity of WolverhamptonWolverhamptonUK
  3. 3.School of PsychologyUniversity of SussexFalmerUK

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