Influence of colour on acquisition and generalisation of graphic symbols

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Children with autism may benefit from using graphic symbols for their communication, language and literacy development. The purpose of this study was to investigate the influence of colour versus grey-scale displays on the identification of graphic symbols using a computer-based intervention.


An alternating treatment design was employed to examine the learning and generalisation of 58 colour and grey-scale symbols by four preschool children with autism. The graphic symbols were taught via a meaning-based intervention using stories and educational games.

Results and conclusions

Results demonstrate that all of the children were able to learn and maintain symbol identification over time for both symbol displays with no apparent differences. Differences were apparent for two of the children who exhibited better generalisation when learning grey-scale symbols first. The other two showed no noticeable difference, between displays when generalising from one display to the other. Implications and further research are discussed.

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