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J Clin Child Adolesc Psychol. 2006 Feb;35(1):20-33.

Are abilities abnormally interdependent in children with autism?

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  • 1School of Psychology, Griffith University, Queensland, Australia.


We propose that stronger than usual correlations between abilities indicate which cognitive processes are impaired in autism. Study 1 compared partial correlations (controlling age) between intelligence and social cognition in children with autism (n = 18), mental retardation (MR; n = 34), or no psychological disorder (n = 37). Correlations were stronger in the autism group. Study 2 compared correlations between measures of perceptual organization and verbal comprehension, receptive and expressive language, fine and gross motor coordination, and theory of mind, emotion recognition, and emotion understanding abilities in children with autism (n = 30) or MR (n = 24) and in a large representative sample of children (n = 449). Results indicate that autism is marked by stronger correlations between all ability domains, and MR is marked by stronger correlations between motor coordination tasks and other ability measures.

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