The existence of a nonverbal cognitive functioning pattern in ASD has been studied over the past decades. The research supports the idea that this population present, abilities above average in some non-verbal skills, such as perception and spatial visualization in attention to detail, and seem to have more difficulty with tasks that are non-verbal or that require visuospatial perception versus conceptual in nature (Kuschener, 2007).
Objectives: Comparing non-verbal cognitive profiles
Methods: It was used the application of Leiter-R (Roid; Miller 1997), an assessment to measure the nonverbal intelligence and has been regarded as particularly useful for special populations that are not easily assessed with more traditional measures, generally based on verbal skills to three samples.
The main goal is to compare the results of the three groups; Group A, 30 children with no medical diagnosis; Group B, 30 children with Development Delay and group C, 30 children with ASD, with the diagnosis based in the ADI-R (Autism Diagnostic Interview- Revised) and ADOS (Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule) between 3 and 5 years old.
Results: The analysis results indicated that Group A and C in Leiter-R have Total IQ scores within the average and Group B below average compared to their chronological age, indicating no general difficulties on non-verbal intelligence to ASD populations.
Looking to the profiles, both Group A and B demonstrate better results on one specific subtest – Form Completion, which is exactly one of the two subtests where Group C indicates more difficulty, relatively to perceptual scanning, recognition and the ability to perceive fragmented percepts as wholes. On the other hand, ASD populations in general presents better results in subtest – Matching, representing good skills in attention to detail, ability to scan and make visual comparisons.
Conclusions: Based on these results, it was concluded that ASD in Leiter-R have Total IQ scores at average, representing an average nonverbal cognitive profile compared to their chronological age. It was also presented a discussion with issues to be explored, as to investigate in the future the unique patterns of functioning of non-verbal ASD population, which in this study shows specific difficulties in task relatively to perceptual scanning, recognition and the ability to perceive fragmented percepts as wholes as opposed to good skills in attention to detail.
The study of a unique profile could be masked by the heterogeneity of the ASD populations, suggesting the need of a division in groups of this population.
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