Event-based prospective memory in mildly and severely autistic children

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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.
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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22-33
Number of pages12
JournalResearch in Developmental Disabilities
Early online date29 Nov 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2016


  • Prospective memory
  • Everyday memory
  • autism
  • ASD
  • Retrospective memory


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