Schoolchildren Struggle to Ignore Distractions.


Before age 10, children with autism struggle with the ability to block out visual distractions and focus on a specific task, research finds, and would benefit from intervention to address this. Researchers at the University of Missouri, Columbia, saw in previous studies that younger children with autism have more difficulty with visual distractions when compared to their same-aged peers without autism. They did not see the impairment in older adolescents and adults with autism.

In their latest study, which appears in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, the researchers narrowed the age range and confirmed the earlier findings. "Here is a cognitive difficulty that is more apparent during one age than another," says Shawn Christ, associate professor of psychological sciences.

"Now we can say there is a time period when these children may benefit from an intervention that focuses on accommodating or helping them overcome this difficulty. This could have a significant impact on their academic and social success. They may not need that same intervention later on in life.

"In our...

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