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Past, present and future-oriented thinking about the self in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

United Kingdom

Parents often note that children with ASD struggle to tell them what happened during their day, and research has confirmed that people with ASD do have difficulties in recalling specific personally experienced events. The ability to recall the past is crucial because it enables one to anticipate and plan for the future, and to develop behavioral flexibility and adaptability. The inability to do so could account for the lack of flexibility and anxiety typical of those with ASD. Dr. Bowler and colleagues will assess the ability of children and adults with ASD to think about themselves in the past, present and future in order to determine how these skills impact the severity of restricted and stereotyped patterns of behavior. If difficulties in this arena do contribute to greater behavioral impairment, new interventions can be developed and employed to target this deficit. What this means for people with autism: With a better ability to learn from the past and prepare for the future, people with ASD can adapt more easily to the world around them and shed many rigid, nonproductive coping behaviors.