Subjective perceptual distortions and visual dysfunction in children with autism

Rebecca A.O. Davis, Marcia A. Bockbrader, Robin R. Murphy, William P. Hetrick, Brian F. O'Donnell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

44 Scopus citations


Case reports and sensory inventories suggest that autism involves sensory processing anomalies. Behavioral tests indicate impaired motion and normal form perception in autism. The present study used first-person accounts to investigate perceptual anomalies and related subjective to psychophysical measures. Nine high-functioning children with autism and nine typically-developing children were given a questionnaire to assess the frequency of sensory anomalies, as well as psychophysical tests of visual perception. Results indicated that children with autism experience increased perceptual anomalies, deficits in trajectory discrimination consistent with dysfunction in the cortical dorsal pathway or in cerebellar midsagittal vermis, and high spatial frequency contrast impairments consistent with dysfunctional parvocellular processing. Subjective visual hypersensitivity was significantly related to greater deficits across vision tests.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)199-210
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2006


  • Autism
  • Contrast sensitivity
  • Motion processing
  • Sensory profile
  • Subjective distortions
  • Visual system

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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