Study Shows ASD Effects Memory

On an everyday basis, the average person has several things to remember. Whether it be to remember homework, a work meeting, to take your vitamins, or a schedule change in your child’s ballet class, everyone constantly has alerts going off in their mind to remember something. As a child, especially a child on the autism spectrum, remembering something can be difficult. A recent study gave a bit of insight about the struggle children with ASD have with memory.

At the University of North Florida, Dr. Tracy Alloway, an associate professor in the Department of Psychology, collaborated with Dr. Tahir Seed, a senior psychologist based with Early Intervention Services in Ireland, to look at the working memory of children with ASD.

The study focused on the comparison of working memory between neurotypical children and children with ASD. Working memory is defined as the active processing of information.

The study revealed that children on the autism spectrum have a significantly decreased visual working memory when compared to typically developing students.

The study consisted of 96 eight and nine-year-olds. Some of the participants had ASD, others had intellectual disabilities or specific language impairment, while the rest of the participants were typically developing children.

Alloway created a computer-based standardized system, called the Automated Working Memory Assessment, and the participants were given 12 standardized tests from the system. The tests focused on verbal working memory, which consisted of remembering numbers and letters in a backwards fashion, as well as visual working memory, which required the participants to remember the location and type of different shapes.

This study will allow parents and educators to have a better understanding of how children with ASD struggle when trying to remember material, and can mold their teaching and guidance to have a better fit for the children. A struggle to have an effective visual working memory can negatively affect a child’s ability to remember educational concepts and lessons, as well as social behavior, such as how to read and respond to body language.

“This research suggests that visual working memory may play an important role in developing social skills in children with autism,” said Singer. “Given that 1 in almost 70 children receive a diagnosis of autism, it’s important to target foundational skills that best support autistic children.”

For more information, visit News Wise.

Written By: Nicole Caropolo

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