It is generally assumed that children with intellectual disabilities (ID) have an increased risk of impaired visual information processing due to brain damage or brain development disorder. So far little evidence has been presented to support this assumption. Abnormal visual orienting behavior is a sensitive tool to evaluate impaired visual information processing. Therefore, the main objective of this study was to investigate possible correlations between the children's characteristics (age, gender, level of ID, mobility, gestational age, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, visual acuity, strabismus, nystagmus, and epilepsy), and abnormal visual orienting behavior. We quantified data on visual orienting behavior, in terms of visual processing time and ocular motor fixations, in 88 children with ID aged 4-14 years. These visual parameters were combined with data collected from the children's medical records (predictors) and were put in a Pearson bivariate correlation analysis. A predictor was included for multiple regression analysis if the Pearson's correlation coefficient had a level of significance of p<0.05. As shown by multiple regression analysis, age, level of ID, and Down syndrome significantly affected visual processing time. Mobility, strabismus, and nystagmus significantly affected fixation quality.Using a systematic approach, we confirmed the hypothesis that children with ID have an increased risk of impaired visual information processing which is related to a low IQ.

, , , ,,
Research in Developmental Disabilities
Department of Neuroscience

Boot, F., Pel, J., Evenhuis, H., & van der Steen, H. (2012). Factors related to impaired visual orienting behavior in children with intellectual disabilities. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 33(5), 1670–1676. doi:10.1016/j.ridd.2012.04.007