Inhibitory control in children with autism spectrum disorder.
ABSTRACT Impairments in executive abilities such as cognitive flexibility have been identified in individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). It remains unclear, however, whether such individuals also experience impairments in another executive ability: inhibitory control. In the present study, we administered three inhibitory tasks to 18 children with ASD, 23 siblings of children with ASD, and 25 typically developing children. After controlling for individual differences in age, overall IQ, and processing speed, children with ASD demonstrated impaired performance on two of the three inhibitory tasks. Results suggest that children with ASD experience circumscribed deficits in some but not all aspects of inhibitory control. More generally, the findings underscore the importance of using multiple measures to assess a putative single cognitive ability.
Article: Inhibition, flexibility, working memory and planning in autism spectrum disorders with and without comorbid ADHD-symptoms.[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Recent studies have not paid a great deal of attention to comorbid attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms in autistic children even though it is well known that almost half of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) suffer from hyperactivity, inattention and impulsivity. The goal of this study was to evaluate and compare executive functioning (EF) profiles in children with ADHD and in children with ASD with and without comorbid ADHD. Children aged 6 to 18 years old with ADHD (n = 20) or ASD (High-Functioning autism or Asperger syndrome) with (n = 20) and without (n = 20) comorbid ADHD and a typically developing group (n = 20) were compared on a battery of EF tasks comprising inhibition, flexibility, working memory and planning tasks. A MANOVA, effect sizes as well as correlations between ADHD-symptomatology and EF performance were calculated. Age- and IQ-corrected z scores were used. There was a significant effect for the factor group (F = 1.55; dF = 42; p = .02). Post-hoc analysis revealed significant differences between the ADHD and the TD group on the inhibition task for false alarms (p = .01) and between the ADHD group, the ASD+ group (p = .03), the ASD- group (p = .02) and the TD group (p = .01) for omissions. Effect sizes showed clear deficits of ADHD children in inhibition and working memory tasks. Participants with ASD were impaired in planning and flexibility abilities. The ASD+ group showed compared to the ASD- group more problems in inhibitory performance but not in the working memory task. Our findings replicate previous results reporting impairment of ADHD children in inhibition and working memory tasks and of ASD children in planning and flexibility abilities. The ASD + group showed similarities to the ADHD group with regard to inhibitory but not to working memory deficits. Nevertheless the heterogeneity of these and previous results shows that EF assessment is not useful for differential diagnosis between ADHD and ASD. It might be useful for evaluating strengths and weaknesses in individual children.Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health 02/2008; 2(1):4.