Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are often described as visual learners. We tested this assumption in an experiment in which 25 children with ASD, 19 children with global developmental delay (GDD), and 17 typically developing (TD) children were presented a series of videos via an eye tracker in which an actor instructed them to manipulate objects in speech-only and speech + pictures conditions. We found no group differences in visual attention to the stimuli. The GDD and TD groups performed better when pictures were available, whereas the ASD group did not. Performance of children with ASD and GDD was positively correlated with visual attention and receptive language. We found no evidence of a prominent visual learning style in the ASD group.
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We would like to acknowledge the children and parents involved in the study, the ASELCC Team who worked with our ASD group, staff at the La Trobe University Community Children’s Centre, and the Kalparrin Early Intervention Centre staff. We would also like to acknowledge the valuable contributions of Emily Armstrong, Cherie Gree, Heather Nuske, Nicole Young, Carmela Germano, and Caterina Suares.
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Trembath, D., Vivanti, G., Iacono, T. et al. Accurate or Assumed: Visual Learning in Children with ASD. J Autism Dev Disord 45, 3276–3287 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-015-2488-4
- Augmentative communication
- Visual attention