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Broad Cognitive Profile in Children and Adolescents with HF-ASD and in Their Siblings: Widespread Underperformance and its Clinical and Adaptive Correlates

Abstract

Despite evidence supporting the presence of cognitive deficits in children and adolescents with high-functioning autism spectrum disorder (HF-ASD), the nature of these deficits and their clinical and adaptive correlates remain unclear. Moreover, there are few cognitive studies of ASD siblings as a high risk population. We compared 50 children and adolescents with HF-ASD, 22 unaffected siblings of the HF-ASD sample and 34 community controls using an extensive neuropsychological battery. Planning, cognitive flexibility, verbal and working memory, visual local–global processing and emotion recognition are impaired in HF-ASD. Worse cognitive performance, especially in verbal and working memory, was significantly correlated with more severe symptoms and poorer adaptive functioning, also when controlling for intelligence quotient. Results in siblings may suggest an intermediate profile.

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Acknowledgments

This work was supported by the Instituto de Salud Carlos III, Fondo Investigaciones Sanitarias (PI09/1588), European Union European Regional Development Fund (FEDER) and Fundació La Marató-TV3 (091510). The authors thank the study participants and their families.

Author Contributions

RC, OP, SL and VSG designed the study. MR and VV performed the participants’ evaluations, which were supervised by RC and OP. MR performed the statistical analysis advised by OP, RC and LL. MR wrote the first draft of the manuscript, reviewed by RC, OP and LL. All authors have seen and approved the final version of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Olga Puig.

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Rosa, M., Puig, O., Lázaro, L. et al. Broad Cognitive Profile in Children and Adolescents with HF-ASD and in Their Siblings: Widespread Underperformance and its Clinical and Adaptive Correlates. J Autism Dev Disord 47, 2153–2162 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-017-3137-x

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Keywords

  • High-functioning autism spectrum disorder
  • Children and adolescents
  • Neuropsychology
  • Adaptive functioning
  • Siblings