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J Autism Dev Disord. 2013 Aug;43(8):1895-909. doi: 10.1007/s10803-012-1736-0.

Neuropsychological profile in high functioning autism spectrum disorders.

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Division of Child Neurology and Psychiatry, Stella Maris Scientific Institute, University of Pisa, Via dei Giacinti, 2, 56018, Calambrone, Pisa, Italy.


A comprehensive investigation of the neuropsychological strengths and weaknesses of children with autism may help to better describe their cognitive abilities and to design appropriate interventions. To this end we compared the NEPSY-II profiles of 22 children with high-functioning autism spectrum disorders (HFASD) with those of 44 healthy control (HC) children 2:1 matched by gender, age, race and education. Results showed that only Visuospatial Processing was relatively spared in HFASD, while deficits were observed in Attention and Executive Functions, Language, Learning and Memory, and Sensorimotor Processing. Theory of Mind difficulties were observed in verbal tasks but not in the understanding of emotional contexts, suggesting that appropriate contextual cues might help emotion understanding in HFASD children. These widespread neuropsychological impairments reflect alterations in multiple cognitive domains in HFASD.

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