We investigated symbolic understanding, word–picture–referent mapping, and engagement in children with autism spectrum condition (ASC) and ability-matched typically developing children. Participants viewed coloured pictorial symbols of a novel object (given a novel name) on an iPad in one of three conditions: static 2D images and either automatically or manually rotating images (providing a three-dimensional context). We found no significant difference in word–picture–referent mapping between groups and conditions, however, children who manually rotated the picture had greater on-screen looking time compared to other conditions. Greater visual attention related to more successful word–picture–referent mapping only for the children with ASC. Interactive iPad tasks may increase visual attention in both typical and atypical populations and greater visual attention may benefit word–picture–referent mapping in ASC.