Share This Article:

Assessing Cognitive Flexibility, Communication, Social Interaction and Interest Patterns of Persons with Autism as a Basis for Intervention

Abstract Full-Text HTML XML Download Download as PDF (Size:227KB) PP. 387-392
DOI: 10.4236/psych.2015.64035    4,204 Downloads   4,920 Views   Citations

ABSTRACT

The prevalence of people on the autism spectrum can vary from 1% to 1.5% of the population, nowadays. Besides an adequate diagnosis, specialized treatment offered to these people must be a priority for the public health policies and a target of interest for researchers and health professionals. Autism is characterized by the presence of deficits in communication, social interaction and patterns of restricted interests and repetitive behaviors. One of the theories that explain autism points out to disorders in some higher order functions such as failures in cognitive flexibility, inhibitory control and working memory. In this study, 18 persons with autism were assessed in the areas of non-verbal intelligence, cognitive flexibility besides the affected areas in autism: communication, social interaction and patterns of interests and behavior. The aim was to verify if there was a correlation between failures in cognitive flexibility and the main impairments of the autism spectrum. Raven’s Progressive Matrices, Wisconsin Card Sorting Test—WCST and Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised—ADI-R were used. Although correlation between WCST and ADI-R scores did not reach conventional statistical significance on most categories, the category failure to maintain set (FMS) in WCST and difficulties in social interaction in ADI-R were positively correlated with statistical significance. This result indicates a deficit of focused attention related to the subjects’ inability to successfully perform or maintain a social interaction situation. This would not support the idea that these subjects fail to flexibly shift their focus of attention from one stimulus to the other in a social interaction situation. On the contrary, it seems that they shift their focus of attention constantly, once their inability to maintain set is positively correlated with difficulties in social interaction. Nevertheless, further research with a larger number of subjects is necessary in order to clarify if FMS assesses distractibility or cognitive flexibility.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Cite this paper

Varanda, C. & Fernandes, F. (2015). Assessing Cognitive Flexibility, Communication, Social Interaction and Interest Patterns of Persons with Autism as a Basis for Intervention. Psychology, 6, 387-392. doi: 10.4236/psych.2015.64035.

References

[1] American Psychiatric Association (1995). Manual de diagnostico e estatistica de transtornos mentais—DSM-IV (4th ed.). Porto Alegre: Artes Medicas.
[2] Angelini, A. L., Alves, I. C. B., Custodio, E. M., Duarte, W. F., & Duarte, J. L. M. (1999). Matrizes Progressivas de Raven —Escala Especial. Manual. Sao Paulo, SP: Centro Editor de Testes e Pesquisas em Psicologia.
[3] Baron-Cohen, S., Scott, F. J., Allison, C., Williams, J., Bolton, P., Matthews, F. E. et al. (2009). Prevalence of Autism-Spectrum Conditions: UK School-Based Population Study. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 194, 500-509.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1192/bjp.bp.108.059345
[4] Cunha, J. A. C., Trentini, C. M., Argimon, I. L., Oliveira, M. S., Werlang, B. G., & Prieb, R. G. (2005). Teste Wisconsin de classificacao de cartas: Manual revisado e ampliado. Sao Paulo: Casa do Psicologo.
[5] Dawson, P., & Guare, R. (2010). Executive Skills in Children and Adolescents: A Practical Guide to Assessment and Intervention. New York: The Guilford Press.
[6] Deak, G. O., & Narasimham, G. (2003). Young Children’s Flexible Use of Semantic Cues to Word Meanings: Converging Evidence of Individual and Age Differences. Journal of Child Language, 31, 271-326.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S030500091200075X
[7] Figueroa, I. J., & Youmans, R. J. (2013). Failure to Maintain Set: A Measure of Distractibility or Cognitive Flexibility? In Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 57th Annual Meeting—2013, 828-832.
[8] Geurts, H. M., Corbett, B., & Solomon, M. (2009). The Paradox of Cognitive Flexibility in Autism. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 13, 74-82.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tics.2008.11.006
[9] Hill, E. L. (2004). Executive Dysfunction in Autism. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 8, 26-32.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tics.2003.11.003
[10] IBGE—INSTITUTO BRASILEIRO DE GEOGRAFIA E ESTATISTICA (2010). Resultados Preliminares do Universo do Censo Demografico 2010.
ftp://ftp.ibge.gov.br/Censos/Censo_Demografico_2010/resultados_preliminares/Tabela1.zip
[11] Kaland, N., Smith, L., & Mortensen, E. L. (2008). Brief Report: Cognitive Flexibility and Focused Attention in Children and Adolescents with Asperger Syndrome or High-Functioning Autism as Measured on the Computerized Version of the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 38, 1161-1165.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10803-007-0474-1
[12] Lopez, B. R., Lincoln, A. J., Ozonoff, S., & Lai, Z. (2005). Examining the Relationship between Executive Functions and Restricted, Repetitive Symptoms of Autistic Disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 35, 445-460.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10803-005-5035-x
[13] Ozonoff, S. (1995). Reliability and Validity of the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test in Studies of Autism. Neuropsychology, 9, 491-500.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0894-4105.9.4.491
[14] Rajendran, G., & Mitchell, P. (2007). Cognitive Theories of Autism. Developmental Review, 27, 224-260.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.dr.2007.02.001
[15] Robinson, S., Goddard, L., Dritschel, B., Wisley, M., & Howlin, P. (2009). Executive Functions in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Brain and Cognition, 71, 362-368.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bandc.2009.06.007
[16] Rutter, M., Le Couteur, A., & Lord, C. (2003). ADI-R: Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised (ADI-R). Los Angeles, CA: Western Psychological Services.
[17] Stahl, L., & Pry, R. (2004). Cognitive Flexibility and Joint Attention in Children with Autism. In O. T. Ryaskin (Ed.), Focus on Autism Research (pp. 49-97). New York: Nova Biomedical Books.
[18] Varanda, C. A. (2011). Consciencia sintatica e coerencia central no espectro autistico. Ph.D. Thesis, Sao Paulo: Universidade de Sao Paulo.
[19] Zelazo, P. D., & Muller, U. (2002). Executive Function in Typical and Atypical Development. In U. Goswami (Ed.), Blackwell Handbook of Childhood Cognitive Development (pp. 445-469). Oxford: Blackwell Handbooks of Developmental Psychology.

  
comments powered by Disqus

Copyright © 2019 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.