AUTISM & WORKING MEMORY
Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) -- Because this is a spectrum condition, the Working Memory profile can vary.
I worked with high functioning individuals and found that the majority did not have working memory deficits, especially in visual-spatial tasks. In the classroom, this means that they should not have difficulty with remembering information presented on the board.
However, students with autism can find it distracting to shift their visual attention from the board to the teacher talking and back to the board again. As a result, it can be hard for them to remember the lesson even if it is presented visually.
Verbal memory skills in students with autism can vary. Some autistic students have above average verbal memory, while others struggle.
In my research, I found that high functioning autistic teenagers had poor verbal memory - especially with new vocabulary words.
AUTISM & THE BRAIN
Studies of brain activity reveal an interesting pattern. When a child with autism is presented with two tasks and has to focus on one while ignoring the other distracting task, their brain activity reveals that they do not shift their attention to the more important task because they have a difficult time determining which task is important.
In the classroom, students with autism might struggle because they don’t know what to focus on.
WORKING MEMORY TRAINING
I worked with a not-for-profit organization, Autistic Treatment Trust, to investigate the potential benefit of Working Memory training. High functioning students used a program called Jungle Memory. After 8 weeks of training, the students with autism demonstrated significant improvements in tests of Working Memory, IQ, and learning outcomes.
MY RESEARCH (FULL LIST)
- An investigation of cognitive overlap in working memory profiles in children with developmental disorders. International Journal of Educational Research
- Working memory profiles of children with developmental disorders. Journal of Learning Disabilities
- Working memory deficits in neurodevelopmental disorders. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry