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Categorization in ASD: The Role of Typicality and Development

Gastgeb HZ, Strauss MS

There is a growing amount of evidence suggesting that individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) differ in the way in which they cognitively process information. A critical aspect of cognitive processing that is receiving more attention in studies of ASD is categorization. The studies presented here examined the effect of typicality on categorization of objects and gender in high-functioning children, adolescents, and adults with ASD and matched controls. The ASD and control groups showed improved categorization throughout the lifespan for typical and somewhat typical object category members and typical gender faces. However, individuals with ASD took more time to categorize atypical object category members and were less accurate in categorizing atypical gender faces from 8-12 years through adulthood. The implications of these results for teaching categories and category labels to individuals with ASD will be discussed.