The Interplay Between Attentional Strategies and Language Processing in High-functioning Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder
This study examined the hypothesis of an atypical interaction between attention and language in ASD. A dual-task experiment with three conditions was designed, in which sentences were presented that contained errors requiring attentional focus either at (a) low level, or (b) high level, or (c) both levels of language. Speed and accuracy for error detection were measured from 16 high-functioning adults with ASD, and 16 matched controls. For controls, there was an attentional cost of dual level processing for low level performance but not for high level performance. For participants with ASD, there was an attentional cost both for low level and for high level performance. These results suggest a compensatory strategic use of attention during language processing in ASD.