Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) show reduced attention to social stimuli. The reasons for these impairments are still being debated by researchers. The aim of this study is to analyse if reduced attention towards social stimuli is determined by initial underlying difficulties in the control of visual attention. Among the variables that could produce these difficulties, the authors considered geometric complexity and typology of geometric figures.
To test this hypothesis, in this paper, an eye-tracker paradigm was used for assessing visual exploration and recognition memory towards geometric figures (curved vs rectilinear) with two levels of geometric complexity (low and high) in 17 children with ASD matched with 17 children with typical development (TD).
The results showed that the ASD group seemed indifferent to both the geometric complexity and the typology of figures (curved and rectilinear), whereas the TD group showed higher performances with highly complex and curved geometric figures than with low complex and rectilinear geometric figures.
Because of the chosen research approach, the research results may lack generalizability. Therefore, researchers are encouraged to test the proposed hypotheses further.
This paper includes implications upon the presence of an unspecified visual attention deficit that is present from the early stages of the processing of stimuli.
The understanding of this deficit from the early stages of the processing of stimuli can help educators to intervene at an early stage when disturbances in social relationships are starting.