Carmen G. Armengol
Chieh Li, George Marinakis
Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Department or Academic Unit
Bouve College of Health Sciences. Department of Counseling & Applied Educational Psychology
psychology, ADHD, Aspergers Syndrome, neuropsychology
Asperger's Syndrome (AS) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are neurodevelopmental conditions for which impaired executive functions have been found to be central to their symptomatology (Happe et al., 2006). A major limitation to the explanatory power of extant accounts of executive dysfunction in AS and ADHD is lack of specificity in the use of this term (Geurts et al., 2004). Executive Function (EF) has historically been used as an umbrella term for abilities such as planning, working memory, impulse control, inhibition and shifting set, as well as the initiation and monitoring of action (Stuss & Knight, 2002). Evidence of EF deficits in individuals with ADHD is extensive, yet there is still some dissent as to how this is manifested. Similarly, for Asperger's Syndrome, also labeled an executive function disorder, there is no consensus regarding what specific tasks of EF are affected.
This study sought to identify profiles of EF that could assist in the characterization of AS vis-a-vis ADHD, thereby facilitating differential diagnosis and helping guide the selection and implementation of best practice interventions to address those. To this end, tasks that tap on two dimensions of EF were utilized. One is modality (verbal vs. nonverbal), the second the cognitive operation employed, i.e., fluency, inhibition, categorization, and strategic problem solving. Four components of the D-KEFS were used to evaluate these aspects of EF: the Sorting, Design Fluency, Verbal Fluency, and Color-Word Interference tests. AS children performed less well than ADHD children on the set-shifting and cognitive flexibility task (Sorting), and the generation of novel visual patterns (Design Fluency). ADHD children performed less well than AS children on tasks requiring rapid access to the lexicon (Verbal Fluency) and inhibition (Color-Word Interference).
Implications for the development and implementation of effective educational services to facilitate not only greater academic achievement but also to further self-understanding, personal development, and to enhance day-to-day functioning and coping skills in these children are discussed.
Kathryn Marie Drinkwater-Connolly
Drinkwater-Connolly, Kathryn Marie, "Differential performance on tasks of executive function between asperger's syndrome and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in middle school children" (2010). Counseling Psychology Dissertations. Paper 18. http://hdl.handle.net/2047/d20000296
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