International Meeting for Autism Research (London, May 15-17, 2008): Associations Between Conceptual Reasoning and Adaptive Ability in High Functioning Autism

Associations Between Conceptual Reasoning and Adaptive Ability in High Functioning Autism

Friday, May 16, 2008
Champagne Terrace/Bordeaux (Novotel London West)
G. Goldstein , Research Services (151R), VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System, Pittsburgh, PA
D. L. Williams , Department of Speech Language Pathology, Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA
N. J. Minshew , Departments of Psychiatry and Neurology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, PA
Background: In high functioning autism (HFA) the level of conceptual skills does not generally predict adaptive function suggesting a different relationship between these areas than for typically developing individuals.
Objectives: The hypotheses were 1) that the correlations between conceptual reasoning and adaptive function would differ between autism and control groups, and 2) that only selected aspects of conceptual ability would be correlated with similarly specific aspects of social function.
Methods: A battery of tests was administered to individuals with HFA and demographically and IQ matched normal control participants to assess aspects of conceptual reasoning. Two measures of adaptive function, the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales (VABS) and the Behavioural Assessment of the Dysexecutive Syndrome (BADS) were also administered.
Results: With regard to the VABS, there were only a small number of significant correlations between conceptual ability and adaptive function in the autism group whereas there were a larger number of correlated measures in the controls. In the autism group the significant correlations between conceptual measures and the VABS involved the Receptive, Expressive, and Writing subdomains of the Communication Domain. In the case of the BADS, there were numerous statistically significant (p<.05) correlations with the measures of conceptual ability in the autism group; however, the BADS Rule Shift subtest received the largest number of significant correlations. In the control group, there were a substantially smaller number of significant correlations between the BADS subtests and the conceptual reasoning tests.
Conclusions: The most robust correlations for the autism group were for the adaptive measures that were primarily related to cognition and communication whereas the most robust correlations for the controls were between cognitive measures and adaptive measures of activities of daily living and interpersonal relationships. It was concluded that in autism adaptive behavior is most closely related to communication ability and cognitive flexibility.
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