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Lost in The Shadows of Autism Research: Does Exclusion of Low Functioning Autistic Subjects Limit Study Results?

Posted May 23 2010 3:34am
Shadows distract autistic kids is the title of an article in the Times of India which reportedly shows that while people can look at the shadow of an object and often figure out what the object is, shadows interfere with how autistic children recognize objects.  The study however involved only high functioning autistic children.  Low functioning autistic children were, once again, excluded.

Notwithstanding the involvement of only High Functioning Autistic subjects the article states with reference to autism generally:

"These new findings shed light on the sensory abnormalities that accompany and possibly even help cause autism, the researchers said ... in autistic children, the presence of shadows — either matching or not matching the objects — interfered with recognition, making them take a little less than 350 milliseconds on average to do either. Instead, they reacted faster when there were no shadows present, recognizing objects in roughly 310 milliseconds. A possible explanation is that in autism, shadows go from being simple features worth a glance to extra details they hyper-focus on, potentially eating up their attention.

Is it possible to draw conclusions about the entire autism spectrum based on studies which exclude low functioning autistic subjects? Personally, I am doubtful.
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