Objectives: In the present study, we examined the eye movement patterns of students with ASD and typically developing students, during their reading and listening to the stories. We compared the patterns of them by quantitative analysis. We used an eye-tracker to measure the eye movements. We also evaluated the reading accuracy, fluency and reading comprehension to examine the correlation with eye movement.
Methods: Participants: Students with ASD and typically developing children (TDC) participated in the present study. Apparatus: A computer (Windows XP) was used to control and present the stimuli. We used an eye-tracker (Tobii, X120) to measure the numbers of gaze plots. This eye-tracker worked by reflecting invisible infrared light onto eyes, recording the reflection patterns. Stimulus: The stories consisted of about 70 Hiragana (Japanese Phonogram) letters and were made of 16 sentences. Procedure: In the reading test, participants were required to read stories presented on the computer. In the listening test, they were required to follow the spoken sentences by the eye movements toward sentences. Dependent measures: In order to analyze the data quantitatively, the numbers of gaze plot in reading and listening tests were counted for the eye movement. In order to examine the correlation among eye movement, reading accuracy, reading time and reading comprehension were measured.
Results: Students with ASD showed lower reading accuracy, less reading fluency, and more eye movements than TDC in both reading and listening tests. In the reading test, students with ASD tended to focus on letters separately, whereas TDC focused on the each sentences. The numbers of the eye movements, gaze plots toward sentences in reading, were greater than those in listening in students with ASD. When they could not read accurately, their eye movement patterns were disturbed, and inaccurate reading led them difficult in fluent reading and reading comprehension.
Conclusions: The eye movement patterns in students with ASD were different from age-matched TDC in both reading and listening tests. In the present study, we found the patterns of the eye movements while students with ASD were reading stories. We also found that students with ASD could fluently synthesize the spoken sentence and eye movement toward sentences. This suggested that training with auditory and visual cues would be effective for establishing reading skills in the students with ASD.
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