Time perception and Autistic Spectrum Condition: A Systematic Review

Martin Casassus, Ellen Poliakoff, Daniel Poole, Emma Gowen, Luke Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Problems with timing and time perception have been suggested as key characteristics of Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC). Studies and personal accounts from clinicians, parents, caregivers and self-reports from autistic people themselves often refer to problems with time. Although a number of empirical studies have examined aspects relating to time in autistic individuals, there remains no clear consensus on whether or how timing mechanisms may be affected in autism. A key reason for this lack of clarity is the wide range of timing processes that exist and subsequently the wide range of methodologies, research paradigms and samples that time- based studies have used with autism populations (Allman and Falter, 2015; Jones et al. 2017). In order to summarise and organise the available literature on this issue, a systematic review was conducted. Five electronic databases were consulted. From an initial 597 records (after duplicates were removed), 45 papers were selected and reviewed. The studies are reviewed within different sections based on the different types of timing ability that have been explored in the neurotypical (NT) population: time sensitivity, interval timing and higher-order time perception. Within each section cognitive models, methodologies, possible clinical implications and research results are discussed. The results show different consistency across studies between the three types of timing ability. The highest consistency of results showing atypical time perception abilities is found in high-level time perception studies. It remains unclear if autism is characterised by a fundamental time perception impairment. Suggestions for future research are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAutism research : official journal of the International Society for Autism Research
Early online date23 Jul 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Timing
  • time perception
  • autism
  • Systematic review
  • temporal order judgements
  • temporal sensitivity
  • prospective timing
  • scalar expectancy theory


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