Neuropsychological profiles of young adults with high functioning autism : a comparison to cerebellar cognitive affective syndrome
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Mounting evidence suggests that cerebellar dysfunction has a distinct role in the development of autism spectrum disorder (ASD; Allen, 2006, 2011; Fatemi et al., 2012). Individuals with cerebellar damage exhibit a clear pattern of neuropsychological deficits, particularly in the areas of executive functioning, language, working memory, and affect; collectively this pattern of deficits is termed cerebellar cognitive affective syndrome (CCAS) (Schmahmann & Sherman, 1998; Schmahmann, Weilburg, & Sherman, 2007). Due to the relationship the cerebellum has with both ASD and neurocognitive functioning, this study examined whether individuals with ASD exhibited the neuropsychological pattern of strengths and weaknesses characterized by CCAS. The neuropsychological profiles of 21 adult males with high functioning autism spectrum disorder (HFASD) were compared to 22 matched healthy controls. The groups were compared using independent samples t tests. We found that the HFASD group performed worse on most neuropsychological measures; however significant differences were only found on speeded motor tasks. Such findings suggest that the heterogeneity of the HFASD group may mask the expected patterns of strengths and weaknesses that are similar to CCAS.