Eye-Tracking Analysis of Attention to an Electronic Storybook for Minimally Verbal Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder

  • Julie L. Thompson, Joshua B. Plavnick, Lori E. Skibbe
  • The Journal of Special Education, August 2018, SAGE Publications
  • DOI: 10.1177/0022466918796504

Finding out how children with autism who cannot speak look at online books

What is it about?

We were interested in how children with autism who cannot speak looked at books and also whether the way the book was shown to them changed how they looked at the books. We also compared them to a few children without autism to see if there were any differences. Children with autism mostly just did not look at the books at all. But, when the children with autism looked at the book it was mostly at words on the page and not pictures. Also, the children with autism looked at the words on the page more when the words were highlighted. Children without autism looked more at the book overall and they mostly looked at pictures instead of words.

Why is it important?

It is hard to learn about reading experiences for kids with autism who cannot talk. This is one of the first articles we know of that is using eye-tracking to research reading behaviors of children with autism who cannot talk. Also, most research on children without disabilities indicates that children who cannot read mostly look at pictures. It is notable that the children in this study mostly looked at words.


Julie Thompson
Texas A&M University

I am excited about the potential of eye-tracking to improve our understanding of reading characteristics of children with autism who do not speak and for developing reading interventions with this population.

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The following have contributed to this page: Julie Thompson