This change may be a function of more complete identification of children with autism who are.
It will be important to consider the effects of these possible shifts on interventions. In school-age children, traditional measures of intelligence are more readily applicable than in younger and lower functioning individuals. Such tests have generally shown that children with autism exhibit problems both in aspects of information processing and in acquired knowledge, with major difficulties in more verbally mediated skills Gillies, ; McDonald et al. In general, abilities that are less verbally mediated are more preserved, so that such tasks as block design may be areas of relative strength.
There may be limitations in abilities to sequence information cross modally, particularly in auditory-visual processing Frith, , ; Hermelin and Frith, There is also some suggestion that in other autistic spectrum disorders e. In addition, the ability to generalize and broadly apply concepts may be much more limited in children with autism than other children Tager-Flusberg, ; Schreibman and Lovaas, As for other aspects of development, programs have been implemented to maximize generalization of learning Koegel et al.
In autism research, IQ scores are generally required by the highest quality journals in descriptions of participants. These scores are important in characterizing samples and allowing independent investigators to replicate specific findings, given the wide variability of intelligence within the autism spectrum.
Several diagnostic measures for autism, including the Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised, are less valid with children whose IQ scores are less than 35 than with children with higher IQs Lord et al. Diagnostic instruments often involve quantifying behaviors that are not developing normally. IQ scores have been used as outcome measures in several studies of treatment of young children with autism Lovaas, ; Sheinkopf and. Siegel, ; Smith et al. However, these results are difficult to interpret for a number of reasons.
First, variability among children and variability within an individual child over time make it nearly impossible to assess a large group of children with autism using the same test on numerous occasions. Within a representative sample of children with autism, some children will not have the requisite skills to take the test at all, and some will make such large gains that the test is no longer sufficient to measure their skills.
This is a difficulty inherent in studying such a heterogeneous population as children with autistic spectrum disorders. The challenge to find appropriate measures and to use them wisely has direct consequences in measuring response to treatment.
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For example, there is predictable variation in how children perform on different tests Lord and Schopler, a. Children with autism tend to have the greatest difficulty on tests in which both social and language components are heavily weighted and least difficulty with nonverbal tests that have minimum demands for speed and motor skills e.
Even within a single test that spans infant to school-age abilities, there is still variation in tasks across age that may differentially affect children with autism; this variation is exemplified in many standard instruments such as the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scales Thorndike et al. Generally, IQ scores are less stable for children first tested in early preschool years ages 2 and 3 than for those tested later, particularly when different tests are used at different times.
In one study Lord and Schopler, a , mean differences between test scores at 3 years or younger and 8 years and older were greater than 23 points. These findings have been replicated in other populations Sigman et al. Thus, even without special treatment, children first assessed in early preschool years are likely to show marked increases in IQ score by school age Lord and Schopler, b , also presumably reflecting difficulties in assessing the children and limitations of assessment instruments for younger children.
Studies with normally developing children have indicated that there can be practice effects with developmental and IQ tests, particularly if the administration is witnessed by parents who may then, not surprisingly, subsequently teach their children some of the test items Bagley and McGeein, Examiners can also increase scores by varying breaks,.
There are difficulties analyzing age equivalents across different tests because of lack of equality in intervals Mervis and Robinson, Deviation IQ scores may not extend low enough for some children with autism, and low normative scores may be generated from inferences based on very few subjects. In the most extreme case, a young child tested with the Bayley Scales at 2 years and a Leiter Scale at 7 years might show an IQ score gain of over 30 points.
This change might be accounted for by the change in test i. Because researchers are generally expected to collect IQ scores as descriptive data for their samples, the shift to reporting IQ scores as outcome measures is a subtle one. IQ scores, at least very broadly, can predict school success and academic achievement, though they are not intended to be used in isolation.
Indeed, adaptive behavior may be a more robust predictor of some aspects of later outcomes Lord and Schopler, b; Sparrow, Furthermore, an IQ score is a composite measure that is not always easily dissected into consistent components. Because of the many sources for their variability and the lack of specific relationship between IQ scores and intervention methods, IQ scores on their own provide important information but are not sufficient measures of progress in response to treatment and certainly should not be used as the sole outcome measure.
Similar to findings with typically developing children, tests of intellectual ability yield more stable scores as children with autistic spectrum disorders become older and more varied areas of intellectual development can be evaluated. Although the process of assessment can be difficult Sparrow, , various studies have reported on the reliability and validity of appropriately obtained intelligence test scores Lord and Schopler, a.
Clinicians should be aware that the larger the sampling of intellectual skills i. There are several important problems commonly encountered in the assessment of children with autism and related conditions.
Learning Styles & Autism
First, it is common to observe significant scatter, so that, in autism, verbal abilities. As a result, overall indices of intellectual functioning may be misleading Ozonoff and Miller, Second, correlations reported in test manuals between various assessment batteries may not readily apply, although scores often become more stable and predictive over time Lord and Schopler, a; Sparrow, Third, for some older children with autism standard scores may fall over time, reflecting the fact that while gains are made, they tend to be at a slower rate than expected given the increase in chronological age.
This drop may be particularly obvious in tests of intelligence that emphasize aspects of reasoning, conceptualization, and generalization. Approximately 10 percent of children with autism show unusual is-lets of ability or splinter skills. The kinds of talents observed include drawing, block design tasks, musical skill, and other abilities, such as calendar calculation Treffert, ; Shah and Frith, ; Prior and Ozonoff, Hermelin and colleagues e.
Such abilities do not seem to be based just on memory skills; they may reflect other aspects of information processing Pring et al. In summary, general measures of intellectual functioning, such as IQ scores, are as stable and predictive in children with autistic spectrum disorders as in children with other developmental disorders, but this does not mean that these measures do not show individual and systematic variation over time.
Because IQ scores provide limited information and there are complex implications of test selection across ages and developmental levels, IQ scores should not be considered a primary measure of outcome, though they may be one informative measure of the development of the children who participate in an intervention program. Specific cognitive goals, often including social, communicative, and adaptive domains, are necessary to evaluate progress effectively. Direct evaluations of academic skills are also important if children are learning to read or are participating in other academic activities.
Various theoretical notions have been advanced to account for the cognitive difficulties encountered in autism. Leslie, ; Frith et al. Various experimental tasks and procedures used to investigate this capacity generally indicate that many somewhat more able e. While not all children with autistic spectrum disorders entirely lack a theory of mind Klin et al. There appear to be strong relationships between verbal ability and theory of mind capacities in autism e. The theory of mind hypothesis has been a highly productive one in terms of generation of research, and in focusing increased attention on the social aspects of autism, including deficits in joint attention, communication, and pretense play see Happe, , for a summary.
Train children with autism to become better with emotion recognition and production.
However, specific behaviors that evidence a deficit in theory of mind are not by themselves sufficient to yield a diagnosis of autism, which can be associated with other cognitive deficits. In addition, research in which theory of mind concepts were taught to individuals with autism did not result in general changes in social behavior, suggesting that links between theory of mind and sociability are not simple Hadwin et al.
A second body of work has focused on deficits in executive functioning, that is, in forward planning and cognitive flexibility. Such deficits are reflected in difficulties with perseveration and lack of use of strategies see Prior and Ozonoff, In preschool children, the data on executive functioning deficits are more limited. McEvoy and colleagues used tasks that required flexibility and response set shifting, and noted that younger children with autism tended to exhibit more errors in perseveration than either mentally or chronologically age-matched control children.
More recently, others did not find that the executive functioning in preschoolers with autistic spectrum disorders differed from that in other children Griffith et al. A third area of theoretical interest has centered on central coherence theory, in which the core difficulties in autism are viewed as arising from a basic impairment in observing meaning in whole arrays or contexts Frith, ; Jarrold et al.
Socialthinking - Research-Based Frameworks
As Frith has noted, it is likely that a number of separate cognitive deficits will be ultimately identified and related to the basic neurobiological abnormalities in autism. Neuropsychological assessments are sometimes of help in documenting sensory-perceptual, psychomotor, memory, and other skills. The util-. Extensive neuropsychological assessments may not provide enough useful information to be cost-effective. However, selected instruments may be helpful in answering specific questions, particularly in more able children.
Motor and visual motor skills are discussed in detail in Chapter 8. In addition to interventions that have been designed to improve intellectual performance e.
Academic performance, for this discussion, refers to tasks related to traditional reading and mathematics skills. This literature consists primarily of single-subject design, quasi-experimental design, and descriptive observational research, rather than randomized clinical trials. The studies have usually included children with autism at the top of the age range covered in this report i.
Notwithstanding these caveats, there is evidence that some young children with autistic spectrum disorders can acquire reading skills as a result of participation in instructional activities.
There is very limited research on instructional approaches to promoting mathematics skills. A range of instructional strategies have involved children with autistic spectrum disorders. In early research, Koegel and Rincover and Rincover and Koegel demonstrated that young children with autism could engage in academic tasks and respond to academic instruction as well in small-group instructional settings as they did in one-to-one instruction with an adult. Kamps and colleagues replicated and extended these findings on small-group instruction of academic tasks to a wider range of children within the autism spectrum and other developmental disabilities Kamps et al.