Event-based prospective memory in mildly and severely autistic children
Background There is a growing body of research into the development of prospective memory (PM) in typically developing children but research is limited in autistic children (Aut) and rarely includes children with more severe symptoms. Aims This study is the first to specifically compare event-based PM in severely autistic children to mildly autistic and typically developing children. Methods and procedures Fourteen mildly autistic children and 14 severely autistic children, aged 5–13 years, were matched for educational attainment with 26 typically developing children aged 5–6 years. Three PM tasks and a retrospective memory task were administered. Outcomes and results Results showed that severely autistic children performed less well than typically developing children on two PM tasks but mildly autistic children did not differ from either group. No group differences were found on the most motivating (a toy reward) task. Conclusions and implications The findings suggest naturalistic tasks and motivation are important factors in PM success in severely autistic children and highlights the need to consider the heterogeneity of autism and symptom severity in relation to performance on event-based PM tasks.