Inhibition and cognitive flexibility of children and adolescents with and without ASD and their parents
Haarlem, H.W. van
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The purpose of the present study was to examine the inhibition and cognitive flexibility (parts of executive functioning) of children and adolescents with ASD, their parents, and controls (children and adolescents). Therefore, a sample of 43 children/adolescents with ASD, 33 children/adolescents without ASD (controls) and 46 parents of children/adolescents with ASD was used. To measure inhibition and cognitive flexibility parts of the ANT and D-Kefs were used. The shortened WISC/WAIS was used to estimate IQ, and the SRS and AQ were used to measure autistic traits in daily life. There was no difference between children/adolescents with and without ASD on inhibition or cognitive flexibility tasks. Age, however, had a significant effect on executive functioning and autistic traits in daily life. Parents of children/adolescents with ASD performed better on inhibition and cognitive flexibility tasks than their autistic children, but there was no difference between fathers and mothers on these tasks. Children with ASD had a higher verbal and total IQ than controls and the total and nonverbal IQ were significant predictors of inhibition and cognitive flexibility. The present study showed that the variables diagnosis, age and IQ play a role in the ability to inhibit responses and to switch between various conditions. Implications of these findings are discussed.