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Title: Theory of mind, central coherence and executive function in parents of children with autistic spectrum disorder
Author: Eleftheriades, Amelia L.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3443 9693
Awarding Body: University of East Anglia
Current Institution: University of East Anglia
Date of Award: 2001
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Introduction: This study investigates cognitive theory of autistic spectrum disorder. Based on the argument that the disorder may have a genetic component to its aetiology, cognitive characteristics similar to those associated with the condition are hypothesised to be evident in the parents. Theory of mind, central coherence and executive function are therefore investigated. Relationships between these three areas of cognitive function are also explored. Methodology: Nineteen parents of children with high functioning autism or Asperger syndrome were compared with 18 gender-matched parents of normally developing children, on measures of theory of mind, central coherence, and executive function. Results: Executive function was significantly poorer in the parents of children with autistic spectrum disorder, than in the control group; but theory of mind and central coherence were similar across the two groups. Overall, 52.6 % of the autism group and only 5.6 % of the control group fell below age and IQ weighted cut-off scores on the Hayling and Brixton tests of executive dysfunction, A number of significant correlations between test measures were found. Discussion : These findings provide further support for the genetic argument and the executive function theory of autism, but fail to support the theory of mind or central coherence models. Possible interpretations of the significant associations between test scores were considered in the light of previous findings. Methodological issues were considered important. Limits of the executive dysfunction model as a stand-alone theory of autistic spectrum disorder were also highlighted. Ideas regarding clinical relevance and future research were discussed.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Clin.Pyschol.)-University of East Anglia, Jul 2001. Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Cognitive phenotype Psychology Medicine