Problem Solving Styles in Autism Spectrum Disorder and the development of higher cognitive functions

Constable, P. A., Ring, M., Bowler, D. M. & Gaigg, S. B. (2017). Problem Solving Styles in Autism Spectrum Disorder and the development of higher cognitive functions. Autism,

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The Vygotsky Blocks Test (VBT) assesses problem-solving styles within a theoretical framework for the development of higher mental processes devised by Vygotsky (Daniels et al., 2007). Because both the theory and the associated test situate cognitive development within the child's social and linguistic context, they address conceptual issues around the developmental relation between language and thought that are pertinent to development in autism. Our aim was to document the performance of adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) on the VBT, and our results showed that they made more errors than the typically developing (TD) participants and that these errors correlated with performance IQ. The ASD group also required more cues than the TD group to discern the conceptual structure of the blocks, a pattern that correlated with ADOS Communication and Imagination/Creativity sub-scales. When asked to categorize the blocks in new ways, the ASD participants developed fewer principles on which to base new categorizations, which in contrast to the TD group, correlated with verbal IQ and with the Imagination/Creativity sub-scale of the ADOS. These results are in line with a number of existing findings in the ASD literature and confirm that conceptualization in ASD seems to rely more on non-verbal and less on imaginative processes than in TD individuals. The findings represent first steps to the possibility of outlining a testable account of psychological development in ASD that integrates verbal, non-verbal and social factors into the transition from elementary to higher-level processes.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Copyright Sage 2017
Subjects: R Medicine > RC Internal medicine
Divisions: School of Social Sciences > Department of Psychology

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