Sustained attention in children with autism

J Autism Dev Disord. 1990 Mar;20(1):101-14. doi: 10.1007/BF02206860.


Although many children with early infantile autism cannot maintain attention to externally imposed tasks, they may continue a repetitive behavior of their own choosing for long periods of time. This study examined the performance of autistic and mental age matched normal children on a Continuous Performance Test of sustained attention. Results suggest that autistic children's difficulties in sustaining attention on imposed tasks may be attributable partly to a developmental delay and partly to the motivational contingencies of task rather than to a primary impairment in the ability to sustain attention.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Attention*
  • Autistic Disorder / diagnosis
  • Autistic Disorder / psychology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Education, Special
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Individuality
  • Male
  • Motivation
  • Psychomotor Performance