Blackwell Scientific on behalf of the Royal Society for Mentally Handicapped Children and Adults
Journal of Intellectual Disability Research vol:55 issue:1 pages:95-105
Background: The ComFor study has indicated that individuals with intellectual disability (ID) and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) show enhanced visual local processing compared with individuals with ID only. Items of the ComFor with meaningless materials provided the best discrimination between the two samples. These results can be explained by the weak central coherence account. The main focus of the present study is to examine whether enhanced visual perception is also present in low-functioning deaf individuals with and without ASD compared with individuals with ID, and to evaluate the underlying cognitive style in deaf and hearing individuals with ASD.
Method: Different sorting tasks (selected from the ComFor) were administered from four subsamples: (1) individuals with ID (n = 68); (2) individuals with ID and ASD (n = 72); (3) individuals with ID and deafness (n = 22); and (4) individuals with ID, ASD and deafness (n = 15). Differences in performance on sorting tasks with meaningful and meaningless materials between the four subgroups were analysed. Age and level of functioning were taken into account.
Results: Analyses of covariance revealed that results of deaf individuals with ID and ASD are in line with the results of hearing individuals with ID and ASD. Both groups showed enhanced visual perception, especially on meaningless sorting tasks, when compared with hearing individuals with ID, but not compared with deaf individuals with ID.
Conclusions: In ASD either with or without deafness, enhanced visual perception for meaningless information can be understood within the framework of the central coherence theory, whereas in deafness, enhancement in visual perception might be due to a more generally enhanced visual perception as a result of auditory deprivation.