International Meeting for Autism Research (London, May 15-17, 2008): The Trees in the Wood: Atypical Drawing Strategies in Children with ASD

The Trees in the Wood: Atypical Drawing Strategies in Children with ASD

Friday, May 16, 2008
Champagne Terrace/Bordeaux (Novotel London West)
R. Fukumoto , The University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan
A. Senju , School of Psychology, Birkbeck, University of London, London, United Kingdom
Y. Tojo , Ibaraki University, Japan
H. Osanai , Musashino Higashi Gakuen, Japan
T. Hasegawa , The University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan
Background: Children with ASD often manifest superior skills, as well as difficulties, when they draw pictures. Some researchers argued that these drawing skills and/ or difficulties may relate to their perceptual styles which prefer local processing, and others emphasized the contribution of the impairments in executive functions. However, the experimental studies on their drawing skills are still scarce.

Objectives: We investigated whether children with ASD manifest characteristic drawing styles based on local bias when they reproduce drawings in the conditions with varying degrees of memory demands.

Methods: Participants consisted of 17 children with ASD (mean years 13.3; range 9-16) and 17 typically developing children (mean years 12.2; range 9-15), who were matched on IQ. In each trial, participants were required to trace a line drawing and then copy it with or without the view of the original drawing.

Results: In all conditions, children with ASD were more likely to 1) draw the whole outline as a continuous line, 2) draw the same lines or dots more than once, 3) start the drawing from local feature of the picture and, 4) make fewer errors in tracing and copying local features, than did typically developing children. In addition, children with ASD were more likely to 5) start to draw a different part before finish drawing one part when they trace pictures and 6) fail to reproduce the global structure of a picture when they copy it without the view of original drawing.

Conclusions: Results suggest that the children with ASD rely on the strategy to reproduce the local features of drawing and tend to fail to reproduce their global structures, regardless of the degree of memory demands. These results are consistent with the claim that perceptual and/ or motor properties affect drawing skills of children with ASD.

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