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J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2015 Jun;54(6):479-86.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.jaac.2015.03.016. Epub 2015 Mar 30.

Examining and comparing social perception abilities across childhood-onset neurodevelopmental disorders.

Author information

1
University of Toronto.
2
Bloorview Research Institute, Toronto.
3
The Hospital for Sick Children and the University of Toronto.
4
The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto.
5
Bloorview Research Institute and the University of Toronto.
6
Bloorview Research Institute and the Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering, University of Toronto.
7
Children's Health Research Institute and Western University, London, Ontario, Canada.
8
McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.
9
The Hospital for Sick Children, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, and the University of Toronto.
10
Bloorview Research Institute and the University of Toronto. Electronic address: eanagnostou@hollandbloorview.ca.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

Several neurodevelopmental disorders are associated with social processing deficits. The objective of this study was to compare patterns of social perception abilities across obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and control participants.

METHOD:

A total of 265 children completed the Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test-Child Version (RMET). Parents or caregivers completed established trait/symptom scales. The predicted percentage of accuracy on the RMET was compared across disorders and by item difficulty and item valence (i.e., positive/negative/neutral mental states), then analyzed for associations with trait/symptom scores.

RESULTS:

The percentage of correct RMET scores varied significantly between diagnostic groups (p < .0001). On pairwise group comparisons controlling for age and sex, children with ADHD and ASD scored lower than the other groups (p < .0001). When IQ was also controlled for in the model, participants with OCD performed better than controls (p < .001), although differences between other groups were less pronounced. Participants with ASD scored lowest on easy items. Those with ASD and ADHD scored significantly lower than other groups on items with positive valence (p < .01). Greater social communication impairment and hyperactivity/impulsivity, but not OCD traits/symptoms, were associated with lower scores on the RMET, irrespective of diagnosis.

CONCLUSION:

Social perception abilities in neurodevelopmental disorders exist along a continuum. Children with ASD have the greatest deficits, whereas children with OCD may be hypersensitive to social information. Social communication deficits and hyperactive/impulsive traits are associated with impaired social perception abilities; these findings highlight overlapping cognitive and behavioral manifestations across disorders.

KEYWORDS:

attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder; autism spectrum disorder; obsessive compulsive disorder; social perception; social processes

PMID:
26004663
DOI:
10.1016/j.jaac.2015.03.016
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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