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Toward an Account of Habituation Patterns in Adolescents with High Functioning Autism
AuthorSzabo, Thomas G.
AdvisorWilliams, Wilfred L.
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Three experiments were conducted to examine habituation to tactile and visual stimuli in 10-15 year old boys and girls with and without high functioning autism. The purpose of these studies was to investigate four likely confounds riddling the extant literature on sensory dysfunction in autism. Behavioral and neurophysiological measures included electronically calibrated gauges of bodily movement during a tactile habituation preparation, electrooculograms, reaction times, and visual evoked potentials recorded during an operant task with distracters. Results provided evidence that age and gender factors alongside idiosyncratic stimulus preferences among children with autism could be responsible for some of the discrepancies found in the basic literature on sensory issues in autism. Results also demonstrate the ways in which neurological measures may offer newtools for shifting the line between overt and covert responding, thus making private behavior more accessible to scientific inquiry.