Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Role of Executive Dysfunction in Social Communication in Autism Spectrum Disorder
by Zilberfayn, Irina, Ph.D., Fielding Graduate University, 2019, 102; 22587544
Abstract (Summary)

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD), a neurodevelopmental condition, is associated with compromised social functioning, communication, and executive dysfunction. The relationships among these core deficits in ASD remain unclear. This study was designed to investigate the contributing role of executive functioning (EF) and its clinical constructs (inhibition, shifting, emotional control, initiating, planning and organization, and self- monitoring) in social communication deficits. A total of 32 children 5-18 years with a diagnosis of ASD were selected from archival cognitive and psychological testing data from a neurodevelopmental clinic. Parent ratings on BRIEF-2 and SRS-2 were used to measure executive constructs, social functioning, and social communication. Multiple regression analyses were conducted to determine which areas of executive functioning have the strongest relationship with social functioning, after controlling for verbal intelligence. Regression results indicated that the overall model significantly predicts social functioning. EF significantly contributed to the model, which accounted for 55.9% of variance in social functioning. The model for behavioral/ emotional/cognitive regulation was also statistically significant. Only cognitive regulation significantly contributed to the model, which accounted for 42.8% of variance in social communication. The overall regression model for the 10 clinical constructs of EF significantly predicted social communication. After controlling for verbal intelligence, only initiate significantly contributed to the model, which accounted for 60.4% of variance in social communication. Post-hoc analyses revealed initiate, shift, and self- monitor to be the strongest contributors to social communication. This study revealed significant positive relationships between cognitive, emotional, and behavioral executive dysfunction and social communication. These results suggest that interventions aimed at enhancing executive functioning may be useful for improving social communication in ASD.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Hawkins, Raymond C. C., II
Commitee: Jaquin, Kristine M., Bush, Joseph P., Loveland, Katherine A.
School: Fielding Graduate University
Department: The School of Psychology
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-B 81/2(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Clinical psychology, Developmental psychology, Neurosciences
Keywords: Autism spectrum disorder, Executive dysfunction, Executive functioning, Social communication
Publication Number: 22587544
ISBN: 9781085734066
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