Prevalence of clinically and empirically defined talents and strengths in autism

J Autism Dev Disord. 2015 May;45(5):1354-67. doi: 10.1007/s10803-014-2296-2.


Outstanding skills, including special isolated skills (SIS) and perceptual peaks (PP) are frequent features of autism. However, their reported prevalence varies between studies and their co-occurrence is unknown. We determined the prevalence of SIS in a large group of 254 autistic individuals and searched for PP in 46 of these autistic individuals and 46 intelligence and age-matched typically developing controls. The prevalence of SIS among autistic individuals was 62.5% and that of PP was 58% (13% in controls). The prevalence of SIS increased with intelligence and age. The existence of an SIS in a particular modality was not associated with the presence of a PP in the same modality. This suggests that talents involve an experience-dependent component in addition to genetically defined alterations of perceptual encoding.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aging / psychology
  • Aptitude*
  • Auditory Perception*
  • Autistic Disorder / psychology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intelligence*
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Visual Perception*
  • Young Adult