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Brief Report: Driving Hazard Perception in Autism


This study investigated whether individuals with ASD (autistic spectrum disorders) are able to identify driving hazards, given their difficulties processing social information, Klin et al. (Archives of General Psychiatry 59: 809–816, 2002). Twenty-three adult males with ASD and 21 comparison participants viewed 10 video clips containing driving hazards. In half of the clips the source of the hazard was a visible person (social); in the other half the source was a car (non-social). Participants with ASD identified fewer social hazards than the comparison participants (U = 163.00, N = 44, p < .05) but not non-social. Participants with ASD were also slower to respond than comparison participants, F(1,40) = 4.93, p < .05. This suggests that, although people with ASD can perceive driving hazards they may have specific difficulty identifying them if they involve a person.

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This research was supported by a Leverhulme Trust Grant (F/00 114/AO) to Danielle Ropar and Geoffrey Underwood. We are grateful to the students and tutors at the colleges who participated in this research: Glasshouse College, Stourbridge; The Wing Centre, Bournemouth; North Nottinghamshire College, Worksop; Castle College, Nottingham. Thanks also to David Crundall for use of the hazard video clips.

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Correspondence to Elizabeth Sheppard.

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Sheppard, E., Ropar, D., Underwood, G. et al. Brief Report: Driving Hazard Perception in Autism. J Autism Dev Disord 40, 504–508 (2010).

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  • Autism
  • Driving hazards
  • Social processing