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Delayed self-recognition in autism: A unique difficulty?

Achieving a sense of self is a crucial task of ordinary development. With which aspects of self do children with autism have particular difficulty? Two prior studies concluded that children with autism are unimpaired in delayed self-recognition; we confirm and clarify this conclusion by examining it in conjunction with another key aspect of self understanding, including several needed controls and contrasts. Three groups of children were tested in a delayed self-recognition paradigm as well as a self-other action memory card game in which they took turns placing pictures with an adult: 3-year-olds (n = 25), 5-year-olds (n = 27), and children with autism spectrum disorder (n = 20). Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) demonstrated impaired performance on self-other recall compared to both typical 5-year-olds and typical 3-year-olds, but were not significantly different on delayed self-recognition. Results are discussed with regard to the unique profile of self-related performance in autism.Highlights► Children with ASD were compared to typical 3- and 5-year-olds on two tasks. ► Children with ASD performed worse than both groups on sorting cards by actor. ► These children performed similarly to both groups on delayed self-recognition. ► These results confirm and extend previous work.


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