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Early Social Cognitive Ability in Preschoolers with Prader–Willi Syndrome and Autism Spectrum Disorder

Abstract

Children with Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) present with challenges in social cognitive ability, Research comparing PWS to ASD is important given the implication of 15q11-q13 region in the biology of autism. However, recent findings question the accuracy of relying solely on parent report in behavioral characterization. Thus, this study examined social cognition in an observable pretend play task and by parent report in 50 preschool children (ages 3–5) with PWS, by subtype, compared to ASD. Behaviorally, the paternal deletion subtype expressed overall higher functioning, whereas the maternal uniparental disomy subtype performed more similarly to the ASD group. Results are the first to show deficits in social cognitive ability early in development. The severity and differences in deficits between PWS subtypes are important in informing early intervention efforts.

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Acknowledgments

This research would not be possible without the financial support of The Foundation for Prader-Willi Research (FPWR) and the Mt. Sinai Catalytic Award through the International Center for Autism Research and Education (ICARE). Further we would like to thank lab members Ellen Doernberg and Brooke Bailey for their time and efforts in data collection and coding. Lastly, we deeply thank all of the families who participated in this research program.

Funding

This study was funded by the Foundation for Prader-Willi Research (FPWR).

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Authors

Contributions

AD concieved of the study, and together with OZ and SWR developed the design of the study. OZ assisted in the coordination of the study, performed the statistical analyses, and drafted the initial manuscript. All authors interpreted the data, made revisions, and approved the final manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Anastasia Dimitropoulos.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of Case Western Reserve University Institutional Review Board (IRB-2015-1240) 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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Dimitropoulos, A., Zyga, O. & Russ, S.W. Early Social Cognitive Ability in Preschoolers with Prader–Willi Syndrome and Autism Spectrum Disorder. J Autism Dev Disord 49, 4441–4454 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-019-04152-4

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Keywords

  • Prader-Willi syndrome
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Pretend play
  • Social cognition