The research compared the skills of six to 19 year old individuals with autism, and a control group with matching age, IQ and level of musical background, on a series of tasks into tone memory and discrimination. Using a touch-screen laptop computer, they were asked to identify musical notes by moving the image of a boy up and down a flight of stairs.
Although the children with autism had the communication difficulties associated with this disorder, a sub-group of them produced exceptional results. In one of the tests four children from the autism group achieved a score of 89 per cent compared to an average score of 30 per cent. "These findings were surprising, especially given that two of these children had intellectual impairment and none had experienced musical training. Autistic children can be highly analytical listeners and are able to access musical details more readily than typically developing children," says Pamela Heaton, who worked as a musician before gaining a doctorate in psychology"
For further details contact: Dr Pamela Heaton, Department of Psychology, Goldsmiths College, University of London, London SE14 6NW
Tel: 44-207-919-7883, Fax: 44-207-919-7873 Email:firstname.lastname@example.org
Or Iain Stewart, Lesley Lilley or Becky Gammon, ESRC
Tel: 01793 413032/413119/413122