Neuropsychological profile in high functioning autism spectrum disorders

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


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Attention / physiology
  • Child
  • Child Development Disorders, Pervasive / classification
  • Child Development Disorders, Pervasive / physiopathology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cognition Disorders / classification
  • Cognition Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Emotions / physiology
  • Executive Function / physiology
  • Humans
  • Language
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology
  • Neuropsychological Tests / statistics & numerical data*
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Space Perception / physiology
  • Theory of Mind / physiology