Children with ASD and savant abilities exhibit significantly less impaired ASD symptoms in the social, communication, and stereotyped behaviours and significantly better adaptive skills than those without savant abilities. Distinct ASD subgroup?
Larger head circumference associated w/enhanced "local" connectivity which provides detailed info. processing, and therefore, might be related to the appearance of savant abilities.
Pring and Hermelin (1993)
Exp. 1: remember more semantically primed targets or physically primed targets? See a row of 4 objects, 1 of which is the target. Savants didn't differ from regular artists - taking in meaning and representing targets in the brain in semantic categories.
Exp. 2: Sort object with semantically/physically similar object. Both groups preferred semantically sorted.
ASD see more minute detail - not very similar locally? Specific to properties e.g. blue banana.
Crane et al. (2011)
Reproduce 4-line drawings an produce novel 4-line drawings - ASD savants better at producing novel drawings than non-savants - better working visual memory.
Bennett and Heaton (2012)
N=125 parent questionnaires and 3 ASD savant case studies. Found special skills in ASD are associated with superior working memory - reverse digit span task. Evidence of highly focused interests. No increase in repetitive behaviour/obsessionality in autistic savants using a questionnaire-based study.
Happe and Vital (2009)
Twin study of ASD-like traits in typical 8yos found "restricted and repetitive behaviours and interests" related to detail focus, were more pronounced in children reported to have talents.
Howlin et al. (2009)
Individuals with ASD with exceptional cognitive or parent-rated skills didn't have higher rates of repetitive or restricted interests.