[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Autistic individuals typically excel on spatial tests that measure abstract reasoning, such as the Block Design subtest on intelligence test batteries and the Raven's Progressive Matrices nonverbal test of intelligence. Such well-replicated findings suggest that abstract spatial processing is a relative and perhaps absolute strength of autistic individuals. However, previous studies have not systematically varied reasoning level - concrete vs. abstract - and test domain - spatial vs. numerical vs. verbal, which the current study did. Autistic participants (N = 72) and non-autistic participants (N = 72) completed a battery of 12 tests that varied by reasoning level (concrete vs. abstract) and domain (spatial vs. numerical vs. verbal). Autistic participants outperformed non-autistic participants on abstract spatial tests. Non-autistic participants did not outperform autistic participants on any of the three domains (spatial, numerical, and verbal) or at either of the two reasoning levels (concrete and abstract), suggesting similarity in abilities between autistic and non-autistic individuals, with abstract spatial reasoning as an autistic strength.
PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(3):e59329. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: ABSTRACT—Burack and Russo (2008) applaud our approach to understanding autistics’ atypical joint attention (Gernsbacher, Stevenson, Khandakar, & Goldsmith, 2008) but express some concerns about the evidence we drew upon to support our thesis. In response, we underscore the empirical nuance of our thesis—that autistics’ atypical manifestations of joint attention arise from their atypical resistance to distraction, atypical parallel perception, and atypical execution of volitional actions. We recap how our hypothesis derives from fresh interpretations, well-replicated findings, and underlying mechanisms.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: ABSTRACT—This essay answers the question of why autistic children are less likely to initiate joint attention (e.g., use their index finger to point to indicate interest in something) and why they are less likely to respond to bids for their joint attention (e.g., turn their heads to look at something to which another person points). It reviews empirical evidence that autistic toddlers, children, adolescents, and adults can attend covertly, even to social stimuli, such as the direction in which another person’s eyes are gazing. It also reviews empirical evidence that autistics of various ages understand the intentionality of other persons’ actions. The essay suggests that autistics’ atypical resistance to distraction, atypical skill at parallel perception, and atypical execution of volitional actions underlie their atypical manifestations of joint attention.