Encyclopedia of Autism Spectrum Disorders

Living Edition
| Editors: Fred R. Volkmar

Selective Attention

Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-6435-8_1932-3


Selective attention refers to the ability to pay attention to a limited array of all available sensory information. Selective attention, as a filter to help prioritize information according to its importance, is adaptive. If attention is too selective, however, it is maladaptive. Excessively selective attention has become known as “stimulus overselectivity,” which is prevalent in autism. Its cause or causes are assumed to be brain-organic. Because overselectivity has serious implications for impairment of learning at many levels, including social, emotional, and language learning (all key features of autism), it is suggested that an evidence-based treatment should focus on the normalization of attention patterns as early as possible to take advantage of the young brain’s plasticity. Behavior analysis can provide such evidence-based treatments. Until a true cure for autism is found, behavior analysis remains the treatment of choice.

Historical Background

The term of “stimulus...

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychology, Center for Developmental NeuroscienceCollege of Staten Island and Graduate Center, City University of New YorkStaten IslandUSA