Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 46, Issue 2, pp 704–712 | Cite as

Brief Report: Imaginative Drawing in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Learning Disabilities

  • Melissa L. AllenEmail author
  • Eleanore Craig
Brief Report


Here we examine imaginative drawing abilities in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and learning disabilities (LD) under several conditions: spontaneous production, with use of a template, and combining two real entities to form an ‘unreal’ entity. Sixteen children in each group, matched on mental and chronological age, were asked to draw a number of ‘impossible’ pictures of humans and dogs. Children with ASD were impaired in spontaneous drawings and included fewer impossible features than children with LD, but there was no difference when a template was provided. An autism-specific deficit was revealed in the task involving combining entities. Results suggest that children with ASD do not have a general imaginative deficit; impairment is instead related to planning demands.


Drawing Imagination Planning Autism Learning disabilities 



The authors wish to thank the specialist school who kindly allowed the study to take place within their setting, and to the parents and children who participated in this research.

Author Contributions

MA participated in the design of the study, performed statistical analysis, interpreted data and drafted the manuscript; EC participated in the design of the study, collected data, contributed to statistical analysis and interpretation of the data.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyLancaster UniversityLancasterUK

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