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Comparative Study of Executive Function in Three Groups of Patients: Autism Spectrum Disorder, Attention Deficit Disorder and Hyperactivity and Autistic Spectrum Disorder with ADHD Symptoms

Friday, 3 May 2013: 14:00-18:00
Banquet Hall (Kursaal Centre)
L. Fernandez, Psychiatry and Psychology, Sant Joan de Déu Hospital, Esplugues de Llobregat, Spain
Background:  We have linked various childhood psychiatric disorders with executive dysfunction. The motivation for this study is the presence of impaired executive function in Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). In the current literature there are studies that show data on the comorbidity between both disorders.ADHD appears as the most prevalent disorder in children diagnosed with ASD.Recent studies suggest that ADHD has a prevalence of 31% in ASD children.

Objectives: To study executive functions in three different groups of patients: patients with ASD without ADHD symptoms, ADHD patients and ASD patients with symptoms of ADHD. A secondary aim is to study if there are significant differences in socio-demographic variables.

Methods:  A comparative cross study was carried out with three groups: ASD, ADHD and ASD + ADHD. A sample of 33 subjects of both sexes with aged between 7 and 18 was used. We used Semi-structured Diagnostic Interview (ADI-R, K-SADS) and questionnaires (Conners) for assessment of symptoms and hetero-applied questionnaires to assess executive function (BRIEF) and intellectual ability (WISC-IV/WISC-R).

Results:  We applied non-parametric tests (Kruskal-Wallis and U-Mann Whitney) and we found two dependent variables which are differentially distributed and statistically significant in the different groups of patients: Working Memory and Planning. ASD Children with ADHD symptoms presented higher deficits in Working Memory, followed by ADHD. ASD patients are the subjects of the sample less affected in this variable. ASD with ADHD symptomatology group presented the worst performances in tasks of planning, followed by ADHD group. We decided to dichotomize variables. Scale scores greater tan t=65 were considered clinically significant. Planning was the scale statistically significant.

Conclusions:  Executive function (EF) appears affected in most of the sample used especially in the comorbid group. It is important  take account of this deficit performance in clinical practice in the face of the EF assessment and treatment.

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