Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 49, Issue 12, pp 4929–4940 | Cite as

Advantage in Character Recognition Among Chinese Preschool Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

  • Jing ZhaoEmail author
  • Si Chen
  • Xiuli Tong
  • Li YiEmail author
Original Paper


This study examined Chinese character recognition and its cognitive and linguistic correlates in preschool children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Forty-seven children with ASD and 51 IQ-matched typically developing (TD) children were tested on Chinese character recognition, rapid automatized naming, inhibitory control, digit span, IQ, vocabulary, phonological awareness, morphological awareness, and listening comprehension. Chinese children with ASD showed strong character recognition skills. Unlike TD children’s character recognition, which was correlated with all the measured cognitive and linguistic skills, character recognition of children with ASD was only significantly correlated with rapid automatized naming, inhibitory control, and phonological awareness. Our findings suggest that phonological awareness and rapid automatized naming may serve as important predictors for possible advantage in emergent literacy acquisition in Chinese children with ASD.


Autism spectrum disorders Hyperlexia Character recognition Cognitive abilities Metalinguistic skills 



The authors would like to thank all children and their parents who participated in this study.

Author contributions

JZ and LY developed the study concept. All four authors contributed to the study design and SC analyzed the data. Testing and data collection were performed by JZ and LY. JZ drafted the manuscript, and XT provided critical revisions. All authors approved the final version of the manuscript for submission.


This work was supported by the National Social Science Fund of China [13CYY027] and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities [15000-31620003] to the first author.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of English, School of Foreign LanguagesSun Yat-sen UniversityGuangzhouChina
  2. 2.Harvard Graduate School of EducationHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA
  3. 3.Human Communication, Development, and Information Sciences, Faculty of EducationUniversity of Hong KongHong Kong SARChina
  4. 4.School of Psychological and Cognitive Sciences & Beijing Key Laboratory of Behavior and Mental HealthPeking UniversityBeijingChina

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