"Parents and clinicians already know that the behavioral signs of ASD wax and wane throughout development," notes Elizabeth Pellicano, senior lecturer of autism education at the Institute of Education in London, who carried out the study. "What we know a lot less about is how the cognitive skills of children with ASD change over time. In this study, we found that these skills vary from child to child, and also that some of them can improve over time."
The research, which was conducted in Western Australia, appears in the September/October 2010 issue of the journal Child Development.
The cognitive strengths and weaknesses typically exhibited by people with ASD include difficulties predicting others' behavior based on their thoughts and feelings (so-called theory of mind) and problems regulating and controlling their behavior (termed executive function), combined with an aptitude for detecting parts of objects or small details (also called weak central coherence).
The study assessed 37 children with ASD and 31 typically developing children when they were 5 to 6 years old and again three years later. The researcher explored children's theory of mind by asking children to watch a series of social interactions on video and predict a character's behavior based on his or her mental state. She tested children's executive function by having them take part in problem-solving tasks that required them to plan ahead and show flexibility. And she assessed children's central coherence by asking them to construct patterns from wooden blocks and search for shapes hidden in pictures.
On the whole, Pellicano found, children with ASD exhibited the same profile that's typically associated with ASD, both at the start of the study and three years later. But a closer look at individual children's patterns of performance revealed that not all children with ASD displayed the same profile of cognitive strengths and weaknesses. Instead, the profiles of cognitive skills varied from one child to the next: For example, while one child with ASD showed difficulties in theory of mind alone, another child showed problems in theory of mind plus executive function.
Furthermore, although previous research has reported little change over time in theory of mind and executive function skills of children with ASD, this study found that most of the children's skills in these areas improved considerably over time: Most of the children had better appreciation of others' thoughts and feelings, and they were better able to plan, regulate, and control their thoughts and actions over the study's three years.
"These findings are encouraging," notes Pellicano. "They stress the importance of understanding the breadth of cognitive skills—a set of weaknesses and strengths—in children with ASD, and how these skills progress over time. A key question for the future is whether there are approaches that can facilitate progress in some of these areas."
Sarah Hutcheon | EurekAlert!
The Great Unknown: Risk-Taking Behavior in Adolescents
19.01.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung
A sudden drop in outdoor temperature increases the risk of respiratory infections
11.01.2017 | University of Gothenburg
An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
19.01.2017 | Event News
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
20.01.2017 | Awards Funding
20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences
20.01.2017 | Life Sciences