Processing Speed is Impaired in Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and Relates to Social Communication Abilities
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Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is characterized by a variety of social and non-social behavioral deficits. One potential mechanism that could unify this diverse profile of behaviors is slower processing speed. Seventy-six high-functioning adults with ASD were compared to 64 matched controls on standardized measures of processing speed. Participants with ASD were significantly slower on all measures, and on the composite score from the three tests (d's > .65). ASD participants with slower processing speeds scored higher on the ADOS Communication and Reciprocal Social Interaction scale (r = .34). These findings provide evidence of slower processing speeds in adults with ASD, and that this may be contributing to impairments in social communication skills. Interventions that improve processing speed might improve social communication abilities in ASD.
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