SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION

Keywords:

  • attention;
  • visual search;
  • development;
  • perception

Visual-spatial strengths observed among people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may be associated with increased efficiency of selective attention mechanisms such as visual search. In a series of studies, researchers examined the visual search of targets that share features with distractors in a visual array and concluded that people with ASD showed enhanced performance on visual search tasks. However, methodological limitations, the small sample sizes, and the lack of developmental analysis have tempered the interpretations of these results. In this study, we specifically addressed age-related changes in visual search. We examined conjunctive visual search in groups of children with (n = 34) and without ASD (n = 35) at 7–9 years of age when visual search performance is beginning to improve, and later, at 10–12 years, when performance has improved. The results were consistent with previous developmental findings; 10- to 12-year-old children were significantly faster visual searchers than their 7- to 9-year-old counterparts. However, we found no evidence of enhanced search performance among the children with ASD at either the younger or older ages. More research is needed to understand the development of visual search in both children with and without ASD. Autism Res 2014, 7: 229–236. © 2014 International Society for Autism Research, Wiley Periodicals, Inc.