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Investigating multitasking in high-functioning adolescents with autism spectrum disorders using the Virtual Errands Task

Rajendran, Gnanathusharan and Law, Anna S. and Logie, Robert H. and van der Meulen, Marian and Fraser, Diane and Corley, Martin (2010) Investigating multitasking in high-functioning adolescents with autism spectrum disorders using the Virtual Errands Task. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 41 (11). pp. 1445-1454. ISSN 0162-3257

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Abstract

Using a modified version of the Virtual Errands Task (VET; McGeorge et al. in Presence-Teleop Virtual Environ 10(4):375-383, 2001), we investigated the executive ability of multitasking in 18 high-functioning adolescents with ASD and 18 typically developing adolescents. The VET requires multitasking (Law et al. in Acta Psychol 122(1):27-44, 2006) because there is a limited amount of time in which to complete the errands. ANCOVA revealed that the ASD group completed fewer tasks, broke more rules and rigidly followed the task list in the order of presentation. Our findings suggest that executive problems of planning inflexibility, inhibition, as well as difficulties with prospective memory (remembering to carry out intentions) may lie behind multitasking difficulties in ASD.