Nonverbal, rather than verbal, functioning may predict cognitive flexibility among persons with autism spectrum disorder: a preliminary study

Colin Andrew Campbell , Natalie Russo , Oriane Landry , Anna Jankowska , Emily Stubbert , Sophie Jacques , Jacob A. Burack


Background: Cognitive flexibility may not be as impaired in persons with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) as expected by the clinical criterion of repetitive and perseverative behaviors (APA, 2013) and by their verbal abilities. In typically developing (TD) children and other groups, the development of cognitive flexibility is tightly linked to verbal development. However, nonverbal abilities may better predict cognitive flexibility in children with ASD because of their unique pattern of cognitive strengths and weaknesses. Method: We examined the relative influences of chronological age (CA), performance mental age (PMA), and verbal mental age (VMA) on cognitive flexibility as measured by performance on the Flexible Item Selection Task (FIST) among a group of 27 individuals with ASD with a wide range of IQs. The Leiter-R and PPVT-III estimated PMA and VMA, respectively. Results: Partial correlations indicated that PMA, but not VMA, related to switching performance on the FIST. Conclusion: Findings highlight the potential unique role of nonverbal abilities as a contributing factor to the development of cognitive flexibility among individuals with ASD. Nonverbal abilities may better support the development of cognitive flexibility in this particular population perhaps because their limited verbal abilities cannot contribute effectively to other cognitive processes such as cognitive flexibility.
Author Colin Andrew Campbell
Colin Andrew Campbell,,
, Natalie Russo
Natalie Russo,,
, Oriane Landry
Oriane Landry,,
, Anna Jankowska (FSS / IPsych / DDPP)
Anna Jankowska,,
- Division of Developmental Psychology and Psychopathology
, Emily Stubbert
Emily Stubbert,,
, Sophie Jacques
Sophie Jacques,,
, Jacob A. Burack
Jacob A. Burack,,
Journal seriesResearch in Autism Spectrum Disorders, ISSN 1750-9467, (A 40 pkt)
Issue year2017
Publication size in sheets0.5
Keywords in Englishcognitive flexibility, nonverbal abilities, mental age, executive function, autism spectrum disorder
ASJC Classification2738 Psychiatry and Mental health; 3203 Clinical Psychology; 3204 Developmental and Educational Psychology
Languageen angielski
Score (nominal)40
Score sourcejournalList
ScoreMinisterial score = 40.0, 28-01-2020, ArticleFromJournal
Publication indicators Scopus SNIP (Source Normalised Impact per Paper): 2017 = 0.828; WoS Impact Factor: 2017 = 1.675 (2) - 2017=2.499 (5)
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