Ali’s paper will be coming out shortly in JADD. The paper reports on cognitive style in autism, and how this changes in individuals with optimal outcomes.

Individuals with high-functioning autism (HFA) have a cognitive style that privileges local over global or gestalt details. While not a core symptom of autism, individuals with HFA seem to reliably show this bias. Our lab has been studying a sample of children who have overcome their early ASD diagnoses, showing “optimal outcomes” (OO). This study characterizes performance by OO, HFA, and typically developing (TD) adolescents as they describe paintings under cognitive load. Analyses of detail focus in painting descriptions indicated that the HFA group displayed significantly more local focus than both OO and TD groups, while the OO and TD groups did not differ. We discuss implications for the centrality of detail focus to the autism diagnosis.

Fitch, A., Fein, D. A., & Eigsti, I. M. (in press). Detail and gestalt focus in individuals with optimal outcomes from Autism Spectrum Disorders. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.