Auditory Attentional Disengagement in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

  • Brandon KeehnEmail author
  • Girija Kadlaskar
  • Rebecca McNally Keehn
  • Alexander L. Francis
Original Paper


Despite early differences in orienting to sounds, no study to date has investigated whether children with ASD demonstrate impairments in attentional disengagement in the auditory modality. Twenty-one 9–15-year-old children with ASD and 20 age- and IQ-matched TD children were presented with an auditory gap–overlap paradigm. Evidence of impaired disengagement in ASD was mixed. Differences in saccadic reaction time for overlap and gap conditions did not differ between groups. However, children with ASD did show increased no-shift trials in the overlap condition, as well as reduced disengagement efficiency compared to their TD peers. These results provide further support for disengagement impairments in ASD, and suggest that these deficits include disengaging from and shifting to unimodal auditory information.


Autism spectrum disorder Attention Auditory Disengagement Eye movements EOG 


Author Contributions

BK conceived of and designed the study. ALF participated in the design of the study. BK, GK, and RMK acquired the data. BK performed the statistical analyses and drafted the manuscript. GK, RMK, and ALF helped revise the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final version of the manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

All authors report no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed assent and consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing SciencesPurdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA
  2. 2.Department of Psychological SciencesPurdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA
  3. 3.Department of PediatricsIndiana University School of MedicineIndianapolisUSA

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