Autism is marked by several core features — impairments in social functioning, difficulty communicating, and a restriction of interests. Though researchers have attempted to pinpoint factors that might account for all three of these characteristics, the underlying causes are still unclear. Now, a new study suggests that two key attentional abilities — moving attention fluidly and orienting to social information — can be checked off the list, as neither seems to account for the diversity of symptoms we find in people with autism. "This is not to say that every aspect of attention is fine in all children with autism — children with autism very often have attentional disorders as well," explain psychological scientists and lead researchers Jason Fischer and Kami Koldewyn of MIT. "However, our study suggests that attention impairments are not a key component of autism itself."
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