Social behaviour and social cognition in high-functioning adolescents with autism spectrum disorder (ASD): two sides of the same coin?

Evelien M. Barendse, Marc P. H. Hendriks, Geert Thoonen, Albert P. Aldenkamp, Roy P. C. Kessels*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

16 Citations (Web of Science)

Abstract

Of the triad of symptoms found in autism spectrum disorder (ASD), that is, social impairments, communication difficulties and repetitive interests and behaviour, the social impairments are the most stable and common throughout the lifespan. They typically manifest themselves in abnormalities as reciprocal interactions and difficulties in the expression and recognition of emotions. Although peer interactions become especially important during adolescence, little is known about the mentalizing abilities of high-functioning adolescents with ASD. Here, we compared the mentalizing skills and emotion recognition abilities of 21 high-functioning adolescents with ASD and 21 matched controls. All adolescents had estimated above-average verbal intelligence levels. Spontaneous social abilities and task-related social abilities were measured using questionnaires, tasks and the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule. Results confirm social impairment in daily life situations in adolescents with ASD, but were not found on experimental tasks of social cognition. The use of more explicit cognitive or verbally mediating reasoning techniques and a lesser tendency of high-functioning adolescents with ASD to search for and use social information in natural environments are further discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)545-555
Number of pages11
JournalCognitive Processing
Volume19
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2018

Keywords

  • Autism
  • Adolescents
  • Above-average intelligence
  • Social behaviour
  • Social cognition
  • Ecological validity
  • Theory of mind
  • FACIAL EMOTION RECOGNITION
  • ASPERGER-SYNDROME
  • CHILDREN
  • MIND
  • ADULTS
  • FRIENDSHIP
  • INDIVIDUALS
  • DEFICITS
  • BRAIN
  • LONELINESS

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