Restricted stimulus control and inferred attentional deficits in autistic and retarded children

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Seven autistic, 7 Down's syndrome, and 7 normal children (mean CAs 83.1, 65.7, and 45.3 mo; mean MAs 42, 36.7, and 50.6 mo; mean IQs 46.3, 45.3, and 98.6, respectively) were initially trained on a single dimension, simultaneous match-to-sample problem. Following criterion performance, each S's simultaneous matching of 4 new dimensions (2 attributes/dimension) was assessed in order to clarify the relation between autism, retardation, and attentional deficits. The Down's syndrome Ss matched significantly fewer attributes than did the autistic and normal Ss, who were equivalent in their performances. Based on these results, it is suggested that Down's syndrome and not autistic children suffer from attentional deficits. Performance in this simultaneous match-to-sample paradigm, which better assesses attentional mechanisms, was related to performances in previous serial and simultaneous discrimination paradigms, in which autistic children reportedly evidenced overselective attention. (23 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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