Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Cognitive skills in children with autism vary and improve, study finds

People with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are thought to have a specific profile of cognitive strengths and weaknesses—difficulties appreciating others' thoughts and feelings, problems regulating and controlling their behavior, and an enhanced ability to perceive details—but few studies have tracked children's cognitive skills over time. Now new longitudinal research provides clues that can inform our understanding of ASD.

"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.


Source and More:
http://www.physorg.com/news203744311.html

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