Differences in Cognitive and Executive Functioning between Autistic and Typically Developing Individuals
The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
The purpose of this paper is to explore the differences in cognitive and executive functioning between autistic and typically developing (TD) children. The articles used assess different forms of cognitive function and executive function. It is hypothesized that individuals with autism will show impairments in executive function, prospective memory, inhibitory function, cognition, sensory-motor, and language when compared to TD individuals. Multiple measures were used to assess participant’s abilities with working ...view middle of the document...
d.), and executive function as, “a set of mental processes that helps connect past experience with present action. People use it to perform activities such as planning, organizing, strategizing, paying attention to and remembering details, and managing time and space” (National Center for Learning Disabilities Online, n.d.), or also known as “higher-level cognitive skills” (University of California San Francisco Online, n.d.). As stated by Rosenthal et al. (2013), “Executive dysfunction is frequently associated with autism spectrum disorders” (p. 14). Autism can be defined by “impairments in social interactions, delay in communication, narrowed interests, and repetitive behaviors” (Rutherford, Pennington, & Rogers, 2006, p.984). Also, individuals with autism struggle with processing social and emotional information (Dawson et al., 2003, p.700). One study by Rutherford, Pennington, and Rogers (2006) focused on awareness, a part of cognitive function, in children with autism. The researchers hypothesized that children with autism will fail to discriminate animate from inanimate objects when compared to typically developing children (Rutherford, Pennington, & Rogers, 2006, p.983). Participants consisted of 23 children (21 boys and 2 girls) diagnosed with an autism disorder (AD), 18 children (7 boys and 11 girls) diagnosed with a developmental disorder (DD), and 18 children (7 boys and 11 girls) who were typically developing (Rutherford et al., 2006, p.985). The three measures used in the study included the Autism Diagnostic Interview- Revised (ADI-R), the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule- Generic (ADOS-G), and the Mullen Scales of Early Learning (MSEL). The ADI-R is a parent interview used to assess the severity of symptoms in the children with autism in three areas; these areas are social relatedness, communication, and repetitive behaviors (Rutherford et al, 2006, p.985). The ADOS-G is interview based using social and toy-based interactions to observe four areas of autism; these areas are social interaction, communication, play, and repetitive behaviors. This measure assesses participant’s language ability and the interviews last between 30-45 minutes (Rutherford et al, 2006, p.985). The last measure used was the MSEL which is used to test development in children between the ages of 3-60 months old and contains five subgroups; these groups are gross motor, fine motor, visual reception, expressive language, and receptive language (Rutherford et al, 2006, p.986). All three measures took place in the participant’s home and were administered by the designated experimenter.
After the three measures were given, the animacy discrimination procedure began. This procedure was conducted on a computer screen where the children were asked to watch balls move on the screen. In the experimental condition, children were rewarded for touching the ball that was “animate”. In the control condition, children were rewarded for picking the ball that looked the...