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Kids With Autism May Lack Key Visual Skills, Study Finds

TUESDAY, Dec. 21 (HealthDay News) -- Children with autism may lack certain visual skills needed to be independent in adulthood, new study findings suggest.

For example, they might find it harder than other adults to find shoes in the bedroom or apples in the supermarket, according to researchers at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom.

The study authors asked 20 children with autism and 20 typical children to press buttons to find a hidden target among multiple illuminated locations in a room. One side of the room had more targets than the other side.

The children with autism took longer to recognize patterns in the test structure that would help them choose where to search for the targets. The findings suggest that the ability to search for objects in a large-scale environment is less efficient and less systematic in children with autism compared to typical children, the researchers pointed out in a university news release.

The study findings are published in the Dec. 20 issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"The ability to work effectively and systematically in these kind of tasks mirrors everyday behaviors that allow us to function as independent adults, and this research offers an exciting opportunity to explore underlying skills that could help people with autism achieve independence," study co-author Dr. Josie Briscoe said in the news release.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has more about autism.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: University of Bristol, news release, Dec. 20, 2010

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