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Res Autism Spectr Disord. 2012 Jul 1;6(3):1099-1106.

Relationship between executive functions and motor stereotypies in children with Autistic Disorder.

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  • 1Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology, Yeshiva University, 1165 Morris Park Road, Bronx, NY 10461, United States.


This study reports on the relationship between motor stereotypies and impairments in executive functions (EF) in children with Autistic Disorder (AD) and in children with Developmental Language Disorders (DLD). We hypothesized that low EF performance would predict higher frequency and longer durations of stereotypies in the AD group only. Twenty-two children (age range = 7-9 years, 6 months, girls = 5) with AD were recruited from a longitudinal multi-site study and compared to twenty-two non-autistic children with DLD (age range = 7-9 years, 6 months, girls = 5). The two groups were matched on non-verbal IQ and demographic characteristics. Frequency and duration of stereotypies were coded from videotaped semi-structured play sessions. EF measures included the Wisconsin Card Sorting Task (WCST) Categories, Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-Revised (WISC-R) Mazes, and Stanford-Binet Fourth Edition (SB-IV) Matrices. The scores for frequency and duration of stereotypies were higher in the AD group. Separate linear regressions revealed that group status, EF, and their interactions predict stereotypies. Specifically, lower EF scores predicted higher frequencies and longer durations of stereotypies in the AD group only. Analyses controlled for age, gender, and parent education. Findings suggest that in AD, EF impairments and stereotypies may be linked to shared brain pathways.


Autism disorder; Developmental disabilities; Executive functions; Motor stereotypies; Videotape coding

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