Accurate or assumed: visual learning in children with ASD

J Autism Dev Disord. 2015 Oct;45(10):3276-87. doi: 10.1007/s10803-015-2488-4.


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.

Keywords: AAC; Augmentative communication; Autism; Visual attention.

MeSH terms

  • Attention
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / psychology*
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / rehabilitation
  • Child
  • Early Intervention, Educational / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Language
  • Learning*
  • Male
  • Visual Perception*