Children with Autism Can Improve Cognition

LONDON, Sept. 18 (UPI) — Children with autism vary in cognitive skills but they often improve over time, Australian and British researchers say.

Study leader Elizabeth Pellicano of the Institute of Education in London says people with autism spectrum disorders are thought to have a “profile of cognitive strengths and weaknesses.”

These include problems appreciating the thoughts and feelings of others, “executive function” difficulties with control and planning, and an ability to perceive parts or small details. However, she says, few studies have tracked these skills over a period of years.

“What we know a lot less about is how the cognitive skills of children with autism spectrum disorders change over time,” Pellicano says in a statement. “In this study, we found that these skills vary from child to child and also that some of them can improve over time.”

The study, published in Child Development, finds children’s skills in each of the three areas improved considerably during the study’s three years. Most of the children had more appreciation of others’ thoughts and feelings and were better able to plan, regulate, and control their thoughts and actions.

Pellicano and colleagues assessed 37 children with autism spectrum disorders and 31 typically developing children at age 5 and 6 and again three years later.

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