Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 46, Issue 9, pp 2859–2873 | Cite as

Executive Functions in Older Adults With Autism Spectrum Disorder: Objective Performance and Subjective Complaints

  • Roeliena C. D. DavidsEmail author
  • Yvonne Groen
  • Ina J. Berg
  • Oliver M. Tucha
  • Ingrid D. C. van Balkom
Original Paper


Although deficits in Executive Functioning (EF) are reported frequently in young individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), they remain relatively unexplored later in life (>50 years). We studied objective performance on EF measures (Tower of London, Zoo map, phonetic/semantic fluency) as well as subjective complaints (self- and proxy reported BRIEF) in 36 ASD and 36 typically developed individuals (n = 72). High functioning older adults with ASD reported EF-impairments in metacognition, but did not deviate in EF task performance, except for a longer execution time of the Tower of London. The need for additional time to complete daily tasks may contribute to impairments in daily life and may be correlated to a higher level of experienced EF-difficulties in ASD.


Autism spectrum disorder Neuropsychological assessment Cognition Executive function Processing speed Aging 



The authors are grateful to all the participants who took part in this study, to the students who assisted with data collection and to Francien M. Kok, PhD, for editing the manuscript for language.

Author Contributions

RD conceived of the study, participated in its design and coordination, performed the measurement, performed the statistical analysis and the interpretation of the data and drafted the manuscript; YG participated in its design and the coordination, helped with the acquisition, the statistical analysis and the interpretation of the data and helped to draft the manuscript; IJB participated in the design and interpretation of the data and revised the manuscript critically; OT participated in the design and revised the manuscript critically; IDCvB participated in its design, the interpretation of data, revised the manuscript critically and helped to draft the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Roeliena C. D. Davids, Yvonne Groen, Ina J. Berg, Oliver M. Tucha and Ingrid D. C. van Balkom declares that she has no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Roeliena C. D. Davids
    • 1
    Email author
  • Yvonne Groen
    • 2
  • Ina J. Berg
    • 3
  • Oliver M. Tucha
    • 2
  • Ingrid D. C. van Balkom
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Autism Team Northern-Netherlands, Jonx Department of (Youth) Mental Health and AutismLentis Psychiatric InstituteGroningenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Clinical and Developmental NeuropsychologyUniversity of GroningenGroningenThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Geriatric Psychiatry and Center for NeuropsychiatryLentis Psychiatric InstituteGroningenThe Netherlands

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