Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 39, Issue 11, pp 1613–1619 | Cite as

Brief Report: IQ Split Predicts Social Symptoms and Communication Abilities in High-Functioning Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

  • David O. BlackEmail author
  • Gregory L. Wallace
  • Jennifer L. Sokoloff
  • Lauren Kenworthy
Brief Report


We investigated the relationship of discrepancies between VIQ and NVIQ (IQ split) to autism symptoms and adaptive behavior in a sample of high-functioning (mean FSIQ = 98.5) school-age children with autism spectrum disorders divided into three groups: discrepantly high VIQ (n = 18); discrepantly high NVIQ (n = 24); and equivalent VIQ and NVIQ (n = 36). Discrepantly high VIQ and NVIQ were associated with autism social symptoms but not communication symptoms or repetitive behaviors. Higher VIQ and NVIQ were associated with better adaptive communication but not socialization or Daily Living Skills. IQ discrepancy may be an important phenotypic marker in autism. Although better verbal abilities are associated with better functional outcomes in autism, discrepantly high VIQ in high-functioning children may also be associated with social difficulties.


Autism Cognitive profiles IQ Symptomatology Adaptive functioning Asperger syndrome 



The authors thank Jennifer A. Silvers, Laura Case, and Anne Della Rosa for their work compiling data and the many children with ASD and their families who made this research possible. The authors also thank Alex Martin for his helpful comments on an earlier draft of this paper. This research was supported in part by the Intramural Program of the NIH, National Institutes of Mental Health. This work was supported by the Studies for the Advancement of Autism Research and Treatment (STAART: NIMH U54 MH066417) for supporting data collection.


  1. American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.Google Scholar
  2. Bolte, S., & Poustka, F. (2002). The relation between general cognitive level and adaptive behavior domains in individuals with autism with and without co-morbid mental retardation. Child Psychiatry and Human Development, 33, 165–172.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. De Bruin, E. I., Verheij, F., & Ferdinand, R. F. (2006). WISC-R subtest but no overall VIQ–PIQ difference in Dutch children with PDD-NOS. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 34, 263–271.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Deutsch, D. K., & Joseph, R. M. (2003). Brief Report: Cognitive correlates of enlarged head circumference in children with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 3, 209–214.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Fein, D., Pennington, B., Markowitz, P., Braverman, M., & Waterhouse, L. (1986). Toward a neuropsychological model of infantile autism: Are the social deficits primary? Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 25, 198–212.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Fisher, N., & Happé, F. (2005). A training study of theory of mind and executive function in children with autistic spectrum disorders. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 35, 757–771.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Frith, U. (2001). What framework should we use for understanding developmental disorders? Developmental Neuropsychology, 20, 555–563.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Ghaziuddin, M., & Mountain-Kimchi, K. (2004). Defining the intellectual profile of Asperger syndrome: Comparison with high-functioning autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 34, 279–284.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Gottesman, I. I., & Gould, T. D. (2003). The endophenotype concept in psychiatry: Etymology and strategic intentions. American Journal of Psychiatry, 160, 636–645.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Hollingshead, A. B. (1975). Four factor index of social status. New Haven: Yale University.Google Scholar
  11. Joseph, R. M., Tager-Flusberg, H., & Lord, C. (2002). Cognitive profiles and social-communicative functioning in children with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 46, 807–821.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Kenworthy, L., Black, D. O., Harrison, B., Della-Rosa, A., & Wallace, G. L. (in press). Are executive control functions related to autism symptoms in high-functioning children? Child Neuropsychology.Google Scholar
  13. Klin, A., Saulnier, C. A., Sparrow, S. S., Cicchetti, D. V., Volkmar, F. R., & Lord, C. (2007). Social and communication abilities and disabilities in higher functioning individuals with autism spectrum disorders: The Vineland and the ADOS. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 37, 748–759.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Lainhart, J. E., Bigler, E. D., Bocian, M., Coon, H., Dinh, E., Dawson, G., et al. (2006). Head circumference and height in autism: A study by the Collaborative Program of Excellence in Autism. American Journal of Medical Genetics, 140, 2257–2274.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Le Couteur, A., Rutter, M., Lord, C., Rios, P., Robertson, S., Holdgrafer, M., et al. (1989). Autism diagnostic interview: A standardized investigator-based instrument. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 19, 363–387.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Liss, M., Fein, D., Allen, D., Dunn, M., Feinstein, C., Morris, R., et al. (2001). Executive functioning in high-functioning children with autism. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines, 42, 261–270.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Lopez, B. R., Lincoln, A. J., Ozonoff, S., & Lai, Z. (2005). Examining the relationship between executive functions and restricted, repetitive symptoms of autistic disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 35, 445–460.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Lord, C., Rutter, M., DiLavore, P., & Risi, S. (1999). Autism diagnostic observation schedule-WPS edition. Los Angeles, CA: Western Psychological Services.Google Scholar
  19. Lord, C., Rutter, M., & Le Couteur, A. (1994). Autism diagnostic interview-revised: A revised version of a diagnostic interview for caregivers of individuals with possible pervasive developmental disorders. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 24, 659–685.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Pennington, B. F. (2002). The development of psychopathology: Nature and nurture. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  21. Riggs, N. R., Jahromi, L. B., Razza, R. P., Dillworth-Bart, J. E., & Mueller, U. (2006). Executive function and the promotion of social-emotional competence. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 27, 300–309.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Siegel, D. J., Minshew, N. J., & Goldstein, G. (1996). Wechsler IQ profiles in diagnosis of high-functioning autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 26, 389–406.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Sparrow, S., Balla, D., & Cicchetti, D. (1984). Vineland adaptive behavior scales (Interview edition, survey form). Circle Pines, MN: American Guidance Service.Google Scholar
  24. Sparrow, S., Cicchetti, D., & Balla, D. (2005). Vineland adaptive behavior scales (2nd ed. Survey Interview Form). Minneapolis, MN: NCS Pearson, Inc.Google Scholar
  25. Wechsler, D. (1991). Wechsler intelligence scale for children-third edition (WISC-III). San Antonio, TX: The Psychological Corporation.Google Scholar
  26. Wechsler, D. (1999). Wechsler Abbreviated Intelligence Scale (WASI). San Antonio, TX: Psychological Corporation.Google Scholar
  27. Wechsler, D. (2003). Wechsler intelligence scale for children-fourth edition (WISC-IV). San Antonio, TX: Psychological Corporation.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© GovernmentEmployee: National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • David O. Black
    • 1
    Email author
  • Gregory L. Wallace
    • 2
  • Jennifer L. Sokoloff
    • 3
  • Lauren Kenworthy
    • 3
  1. 1.Pediatric Developmental Neuroscience BranchNational Institute of Mental HealthBethesdaUSA
  2. 2.Laboratory of Brain & CognitionNational Institute of Mental HealthBethesdaUSA
  3. 3.Center for Autism Spectrum DisordersChildren’s National Medical CenterRockvilleUSA

Personalised recommendations