Associations among parent and teacher ratings of systemizing, vocabulary and executive function in children with autism spectrum disorder

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Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) show a heightened drive toward systemizing, which is the capability to analyze, or the drive to construct, a rule-based system. In addition, executive function deficits as well as diminished language capacity and vocabulary have been consistently demonstrated in individuals with ASD. The primary purpose of this study was to create a model to understand how these constructs interact in children with ASD. Forty-six children diagnosed with ASD along with their parents and teachers participated. All children completed standardized vocabulary testing. For each child, one parent and one teacher completed executive function and systemizing scales. For parents and teachers, systemizing was significantly associated with vocabulary. For parents, systematizing was significantly associated with all executive function subscales, however, for teachers, systemizing was only significantly associated with half of the executive function subscales. The mediation model indicated that the relationship between vocabulary and systemizing was fully mediated by executive function for parents but the model was not significant for teachers. This model demonstrates that systemizing, vocabulary and executive function should not be studied in isolation when attempting to understand the behaviors of children with ASD and can help us to better plan educational and therapeutic interventions.

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Research in Developmental Disabilities



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