Profiling executive dysfunction in adults with autism and comorbid learning disability

Louise Barnard, Kevin Muldoon, Reem Hasan, Gregory O'Brien, Mary Stewart

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    55 Citations (Scopus)


    Executive dysfunction is thought to be primary to autism. We examined differences in executive function between 20 adults with autism and learning disability and 23 individuals with learning disabilities outside the autistic spectrum. All participants were matched for chronological age and full-scale IQ, and were given a battery of tasks assessing fluency, planning, set-shifting, inhibition and working memory. Analyses of the individual tasks revealed very few significant differences between the two groups. However, analyses of composite scores derived for each executive domain revealed that the group with autism showed impaired performance on the working memory and planning tests. Together, these two measures were sufficient to classify participants into their diagnostic groups significantly better than would be expected by chance (75% of the autism group; 65% of the control group). Executive impairments were neither universal nor exclusive to the autism group, and we suggest that an alternative cognitive theory may better explain the cognitive profile we found. © Sage Publications.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)125-141
    Number of pages17
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2008


    • Autism
    • Executive functioning


    Dive into the research topics of 'Profiling executive dysfunction in adults with autism and comorbid learning disability'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this