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Rafał Kawa and Ewa Pisula

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to compare exploratory behaviours in children with autism and typically developing preschool children and the course of their adaptation to novelty. A series of five repeated trials was conducted, during which children were allowed to freely explore the experimental room. The results revealed differences between study groups in the overall rate of exploratory activity, which was lower in children with autism. Patterns of time characteristics of exploratory activity showed both similarities and differences between the groups. In both groups, the rate of simple exploratory behaviours (i.e. looking at an object, touching the object, manipulating one object) decreased with time, while the levels of diversive exploration (i.e. touching the wall or floor) increased. Children with autism engaged in less complex object manipulation than their peers. Similarly, their adaptation and habituation to a novel environment proceeded in a different way in the low stimulation zone than in the high stimulation zone. In the low and medium stimulation zones, the rate of exploration decreased with time, while in the high stimulation zone it remained relatively constant. In typically developing children, habituation occurred in all stimulation zones. These results suggest the presence of some differences between the patterns of adaptation to novelty in the two groups, which emerge in a stimulation-rich environment. Due to the limitations of the study, in particular the small number of subjects, the present paper should be treated as a preliminary report.

Open access

Ewa Pisula, Monika Pudło, Monika Słowińska, Rafał Kawa, Anna Banasiak and Emilia Łojek

Abstract

The purpose of the study was to compare the functioning of adolescents with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and typically developing adolescents matched for age and IQ, in terms of right hemisphere language communication. Sex differences in that area were also analyzed. Seventy-nine individuals with normal intelligence with ASD, fluent in their native spoken language and aged 10-20 years (41 females), and 79 typically developing individuals (control group, 39 females) were tested. The Polish adaptation of the Right Hemisphere Language Battery (RHLB-PL) was used for participants aged 13-20 years, while children aged 10-12 years were tested using an experimental version of the RHLBPL for young children designed by E. Łojek. Individuals with ASD scored lower in the Humor Test and Discourse Analysis, and made more remarks in the Comments Test about the tasks than the control group. The two groups scored differently in two measures of verbal intellectual skills in the Wechsler Scale: Arithmetic and Comprehension. Individuals with ASD scored lower than controls on both of those measures. No sex differences were found for any of the measured variables.