This study analyzed distributions of Euclidean displacements in gaze (i.e. ''gaze steps'') to evaluate thedegree of componential cognitive constraints on audiovisualspeech perception tasks. Children performing thesetasks exhibited distributions of gaze steps that were closest to power-law or lognormal distributions, suggesting a multiplicatively interactive, flexible, self-organizing cognitive system rather than a component-dominant stipulated cognitive structure. Younger children and children diagnosedwith an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) exhibited distributions that were closer to power-law than lognormal, indicating a reduced degree of self-organized structure. Therelative goodness of lognormal fit was also a significant predictor of ASD, suggesting that this type of analysis may point towards a promising diagnostic tool. These results lend further support to an interaction-dominant frameworkthat casts cognitive processing and development in terms ofself-organization instead of fixed components and show that these analytical methods are sensitive to importantdevelopmental and neuropsychological differences.© 2011 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.