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Article
Publication date: 12 August 2020

Cristina Carrozza and Rosa Angela Fabio

Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) show reduced attention to social stimuli. The reasons for these impairments are still being debated by researchers. The aim of…

Abstract

Purpose

Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) show reduced attention to social stimuli. The reasons for these impairments are still being debated by researchers. The aim of this study is to analyse if reduced attention towards social stimuli is determined by initial underlying difficulties in the control of visual attention. Among the variables that could produce these difficulties, the authors considered geometric complexity and typology of geometric figures.

Design/methodology/approach

To test this hypothesis, in this paper, an eye-tracker paradigm was used for assessing visual exploration and recognition memory towards geometric figures (curved vs rectilinear) with two levels of geometric complexity (low and high) in 17 children with ASD matched with 17 children with typical development (TD).

Findings

The results showed that the ASD group seemed indifferent to both the geometric complexity and the typology of figures (curved and rectilinear), whereas the TD group showed higher performances with highly complex and curved geometric figures than with low complex and rectilinear geometric figures.

Research limitations/implications

Because of the chosen research approach, the research results may lack generalizability. Therefore, researchers are encouraged to test the proposed hypotheses further.

Practical implications

This paper includes implications upon the presence of an unspecified visual attention deficit that is present from the early stages of the processing of stimuli.

Social implications

The understanding of this deficit from the early stages of the processing of stimuli can help educators to intervene at an early stage when disturbances in social relationships are starting.

Originality/value

This study contributes to understanding the presence of dysfunctional perceptual antecedents that could determine general difficulties in paying attention to social stimuli in ASD subjects.

Details

Advances in Autism, vol. 6 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2056-3868

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 11 May 2020

Rosa Angela Fabio, Sonia Esposito, Cristina Carrozza, Gaetana Pino and Tindara Caprì

Various studies have examined the role of executive functions in autism, but there is a lack of research in the current literature on cognitive flexibility in autism…

Abstract

Purpose

Various studies have examined the role of executive functions in autism, but there is a lack of research in the current literature on cognitive flexibility in autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The purpose of this study is to investigate whether cognitive flexibility deficits could be related to facial emotion recognition deficits in ASD.

Design/methodology/approach

In total, 20 children with ASD and 20 typically developing children, matched for intelligence quotient and gender, were examined both in facial emotion recognition tasks and in cognitive flexibility tasks through the dimensional change card sorting task.

Findings

Despite cognitive flexibility not being a core deficit in ASD, impaired cognitive flexibility is evident in the present research. Results show that cognitive flexibility is related to facial emotion recognition and support the hypothesis of an executive specific deficit in children with autism.

Research limitations/implications

One of the limit is the use of just one cognitive test to measure cognitive flexibility and facial recognition. This could be important to be taken into account in the new research. By increasing the number of common variables assessing cognitive flexibility, this will allow for a better comparison between studies to characterize impairment in cognitive flexibility in ASD.

Practical implications

Investigating impairment in cognitive flexibility may help to plan training intervention based on the induction of flexibility.

Social implications

If the authors implement cognitive flexibility people with ASD can have also an effect on their social behavior and overcome the typical and repetitive behaviors that are the hallmark of ASD.

Originality/value

The originality is to relate cognitive flexibility deficits to facial emotion.

Details

Advances in Autism, vol. 6 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2056-3868

Keywords

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