Central coherence theory hypothesizes individuals with autism process information in a detail-focused fashion. The present study examined whether adolescents with an intellectual disability and comorbid autism spectrum disorder showed a weaker central coherence than age- and IQ-matched controls. The central coherence skills of 43 adolescents from schools for students with severe learning problems were examined with two cognitive tasks. In these two tasks, detail-focused processing is beneficial to global processing to perform the tasks accurately and quickly. The group with autism spectrum disorder performed better than the control group. Adolescents with an intellectual disability and with comorbid autism spectrum disorder have a weaker central coherence than age- and IQ-matched controls. Partial support was also given for variability in weak central coherence within the autism spectrum. (c) 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.