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Prevalence of Clinically and Empirically Defined Talents and Strengths in Autism

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      Abstract

      Outstanding skills, including special isolated skills (SIS) and perceptual peaks (PP) are frequent features of autism. However, their reported prevalence varies between studies and their co-occurrence is unknown. We determined the prevalence of SIS in a large group of 254 autistic individuals and searched for PP in 46 of these autistic individuals and 46 intelligence and age-matched typically developing controls. The prevalence of SIS among autistic individuals was 62.5 % and that of PP was 58 % (13 % in controls). The prevalence of SIS increased with intelligence and age. The existence of an SIS in a particular modality was not associated with the presence of a PP in the same modality. This suggests that talents involve an experience-dependent component in addition to genetically defined alterations of perceptual encoding.

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      The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s10803-014-2296-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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      Most cited references 59

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      Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised: A revised version of a diagnostic interview for caregivers of individuals with possible pervasive developmental disorders

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        Comparing an Individual's Test Score Against Norms Derived from Small Samples

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          Enhanced pitch sensitivity in individuals with autism: a signal detection analysis.

          Past research has shown a superiority of participants with high-functioning autism over comparison groups in memorizing picture-pitch associations and in detecting pitch changes in melodies. A subset of individuals with autism, known as "musical savants," is also known to possess absolute pitch. This superiority might be due to an abnormally high sensitivity to fine-grained pitch differences in sounds. To test this hypothesis, psychoacoustic tasks were devised so as to use a signal detection methodology. Participants were all musically untrained and were divided into a group of 12 high-functioning individuals with autism and a group of 12 normally developing individuals. Their task was to judge the pitch of pure tones in a "same-different" discrimination task and in a "high-low" categorization task. In both tasks, the obtained psychometric functions revealed higher pitch sensitivity for subjects with autism, with a more pronounced advantage over control participants in the categorization task. These findings confirm that pitch processing is enhanced in "high-functioning" autism. Superior performance in pitch discrimination and categorization extends previous findings of enhanced visual performance to the auditory domain. Thus, and as predicted by the enhanced perceptual functioning model for peaks of ability in autism (Mottron & Burack, 2001), autistic individuals outperform typically developing population in a variety of low-level perceptual tasks.
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            Author and article information

            Affiliations
            The University of Montreal Center of Excellence for Pervasive Developmental Disorders (CETEDUM), Hôpital Rivière-des-Prairies, 7070 Perras Blvd., Montreal, QC H1E 1A4 Canada
            Contributors
            ameilleur009@gmail.com
            patricia.jelenic.hrdp@ssss.gouv.qc.ca
            514-323-7260 , laurent.mottron@gmail.com
            Journal
            J Autism Dev Disord
            J Autism Dev Disord
            Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
            Springer US (New York )
            0162-3257
            1573-3432
            6 November 2014
            6 November 2014
            2015
            : 45
            : 5
            : 1354-1367
            25374134 4544492 2296 10.1007/s10803-014-2296-2
            © The Author(s) 2014

            Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and the source are credited.

            Categories
            Original Paper
            Custom metadata
            © Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

            Neurology

            expertise, perception, savant, talent, block, pitch

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