Age Related Differences of Executive Functioning Problems in Everyday Life of Children and Adolescents in the Autism Spectrum

S.F.W.M. van den Bergh, A.M. Scheeren, S.M. Begeer, H.M. Koot, H.M. Geurts

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Numerous studies investigated executive functioning (EF) problems in people with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) using laboratory EF tasks. As laboratory task performances often differ from real life observations, the current study focused on EF in everyday life of 118 children and adolescents with ASD (6-18 years). We investigated age-related and individual differences in EF problems as reported by parents on the Behavioral Rating Inventory Executive Functions (BRIEF: Gioia et al. in Behavior rating inventory of executive function. Psychological Assessment Resources, Odesse 2000), and examined the association with autism severity. Inhibition problems were mostly found in the youngest group (6- to 8-year-olds), whereas problems with planning where more evident for 12- to 14-year-olds as compared to 9- to 11-year-olds. In a subsample of participants meeting the ADOS ASD cut-off criteria the age related differences in planning were absent, while problems with cognitive flexibility were less apparent in 15- to 18-year-olds, compared to 9- to 11-, and 12- to 14-year olds. EF problems surpassing the clinical cutoff were only observed in 20 % (planning) to 51 % (cognitive flexibility) of the children and adolescents, and no relation was found with ASD symptom severity. This underlines the heterogeneous nature of ASD. © 2014 Springer Science+Business Media.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1959-1971
JournalJournal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Volume44
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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