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Autism may include aptitude for analogy

Contrary to what had been thought, young people with autism recognize and compare relationships among objects in scenes

1:25pm, September 25, 2009

Children with autism have difficulty forming social relationships. But they discern relationships among objects in visual scenes surprisingly well, indicating a fundamental grasp of analogical reasoning, according to a new study.

Youngsters diagnosed with autism, or autistic disorder, reason about the relations between objects and people on a par with kids free of any developmental problems, psychology graduate student Kinga Morsanyi of the University of Plymouth, England, and psychologist Keith Holyoak of the University of California, Los Angeles report in an upcoming Developmental Science.

“Our findings indicate that the basic ability to reason analogically is intact in autism,” Morsanyi says.

In addition to social difficulties, autistic disorder is characterized by impaired communication and a preference for strict routines. Related developmental problems are referred to as Autistic Spectrum Disorders.

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