Immediate effects of coloured overlays on the reading performance of preschool children with an autism spectrum disorder using eye tracking

Kenneth N.K. Fong (Corresponding Author), W. Y. Ma, H. K. Pang, Pakki P.K. Tang, Lawla L.F. Law

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Coloured overlays have often been used to improve reading performance in preschool children with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), however, previous evidence shows conflicts in its application. Aims: To investigate the immediate effects of coloured overlays on reading performance using eye tracking in preschool children with ASD and their typical development (TD) counterparts closely matched by chronological age. Methods: Forty participants with ASD (n = 20) or TD (n = 20) were recruited by convenience sampling and asked to read aloud numbers randomly arranged on paper. Participants’ ocular performance (fixation duration, fixation count, total visit duration), reading speed and number of errors were recorded by eye tracker and digital stopwatch respectively throughout testing with and without coloured overlays. Results: The findings show that coloured overlays had no significant immediate effect in improving ocular performance and reading speed of children with ASD or TD, although individual improvements were identified in some children with ASD. Conclusions: Use of coloured overlays may not be useful to improve reading and ocular performance in children with ASD in one single occasion. The potential effect on reading ability of using coloured overlays repetitively for a longer period needs further investigation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)141-148
Number of pages8
JournalResearch in Developmental Disabilities
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019


  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Coloured overlays
  • Ocular performance
  • Preschool
  • Reading speed

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology

Cite this