Similarities and differences between children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder and those with obsessive compulsive disorder: executive functioning and repetitive behaviour

Autism. 2009 Jan;13(1):43-57. doi: 10.1177/1362361308097120.


In order to examine hypothesized underlying neurocognitive processes in repetitive behaviour, children and adolescents (7-16 years) with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) were compared on a range of executive function (EF) measures. Performance on neuropsychological tests assessing executive functioning showed a trend for children with ASD to perform poorly on tasks requiring generation of multiple responses, while children with OCD tended to demonstrate impairments on a task requiring inhibition. Parental ratings on a questionnaire measure of EF indicated impairments in both groups relative to controls. Relationships between questionnaire and performance measures of EF were generally weak. There was some limited support for a relationship between EF and repetitive behaviour, but effects tended to be small and variable across groups and measures.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Asperger Syndrome / diagnosis*
  • Asperger Syndrome / psychology
  • Autistic Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Autistic Disorder / psychology
  • Child
  • Child Development Disorders, Pervasive / diagnosis*
  • Child Development Disorders, Pervasive / psychology
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Cognition Disorders / psychology
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inhibition, Psychological
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / psychology
  • Problem Solving
  • Stereotyped Behavior*
  • Verbal Behavior