Similar results were found with respect to the ability of children with ASD to interpret nonverbal information presented in static pictures. As an example, when Bruno (1981) asked children with and without disabilities who were between the ages of 9 and 11 to interpret pictures of social situations, those with ASD were significantly more inaccurate in their interpretations of visual cues; they made a greater number of false inferences and were more likely to focus on irrelevant details. In addition, even when shown simple static pictures, children with disabilities had difficulty interpreting the overall meaning of social situations (Saloner & Gettinger, 1985).
Although earlier research on the interpretation of nonverbal social information by students with and without disabilities typically presented only visual information, the majority of more recent research focused on varying the modality of the information.
This research was driven by the need to clarify the nature of the social-cognitive difficulties. That contributes to children with disabilities’ problems interpreting social interactions. In particular, whether having information from more than one modality (e.g., visual and auditory information) makes it easier or harder for the child to be accurate in their interpretations has been of interest. The results of this research are instrumental in determining under what conditions children with ASD are more likely to interpret social information accurately as well as in determining the extent of their difficulties. Trouble interpreting information from both modalities and from each modality separately would imply more serious difficulties with social-cognitive processing than difficulty only with a combination of modalities. In addition, pinpointing specific modalities (such as visual information) that are difficult for the child to interpret may indicate which ones are likely contributing to difficulty integrating information from more than one modality (e.g., visual and auditory).
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