Journal of autism and childhood schizophrenia

, Volume 4, Issue 4, pp 301–312 | Cite as

The effects of stimulus-fading on acquisition of a visual position discrimination in autistic, retarded, and normal children

  • T. W. Sherman
  • C. D. Webster


Trial-and-error training on a visual position-discrimination task was given to 8 autistic children, 8 retarded children, and 8 children of approximately normal intelligence. Subjects sat before an apparatus containing 3 translucent response panels (left, right, and center). A correct response was to press whichever outside panel was closer to a small black square projected to the right or left of center on the center panel (criterion discrimination). Apart from 3 additional normal-IQ subjects who learned the criterion discrimination (and who were excluded from the experiment proper), performance remained at a chance level for all 3 groups. The remaning 24 children received a 60-trial stimulus-fading program designed to teach the discrimination. Normal-IQ subjects performed best on the program, followed by retarded and autistic subjects. Statistical analysis revealed that the autistic and retarded groups did not differ in performance and that the normal-IQ subjects performed reliably better than the autistic subjects. All 3 groups improved markedly on the criterion-discrimination task as a result of the stimulus-fading program. The significance of this observation and its implications for teaching autistic children are discussed.


Correct Response School Psychology Normal Child Autistic Child Chance Level 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1975

Authors and Affiliations

  • T. W. Sherman
    • 1
  • C. D. Webster
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Toronto and Clarke Institute of PsychiatryToronto

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