Social-cognitive functional skills in children and youth with autism spectrum disorders (ASD): relation to age, IQ, and social communication impairment
Dooley, Meghan Elizabeth
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This thesis examines the validity of the Social/Cognitive domain of the new PEDI-CAT as a measure of social-cognitive functional skills in children and youth with ASD. Specifically, this study examined the associations between the Social/Cognitive domain and age, IQ, and social communication impairments. A sample of 390 parents of children ages 3-21 years with ASD from across the United States completed an online survey regarding their child's functional skills, the Social Communication Questionnaire and a demographic survey that included questions about their child's assessed cognitive level. Findings indicate that the Social/Cognitive domain is a valid measure of social-cognitive functional skills in children and youth with ASD, and that social-cognitive functional skills increase with age in this population. Furthermore, findings indicate that in addition to the observed association with age, both IQ and degree of social communication impairment explained additional variance in social-cognitive functional skills. However, even when these factors are combined, they do not account for all of the variance in these functional skills. Thus, findings suggest that social functioning in children and youth with ASD is complex, and may depend on other factors, such as the environment, that contribute to successful participation in daily living activities. The Social/Cognitive scale of the new PEDI-CAT offers additional insight into the social-cognitive abilities of children and youth with ASD and can help further our understanding of adaptive functioning in this population.
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