The development of core cognitive skills in Autism

a 3-year prospective study

Elizabeth Pellicano*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

78 Citations (Scopus)


This longitudinal study tested the veracity of one candidate multiple-deficits account of autism by assessing 37 children with autism (M age = 67.9 months) and 31 typical children (M age = 65.2 months) on tasks tapping components of theory of mind (ToM), executive function (EF), and central coherence (CC) at intake and again 3 years later. As a group, children with autism showed poor false-belief attribution, planning ability, and set-shifting, together with enhanced local processing at both time points. At an individual level, however, the profile was far from universal at either intake or follow-up. Moreover, autistic children demonstrated significant changes over time in ToM and EF, but not CC, over the 3-year period. The challenges these findings pose for a multiple-deficits account are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1400-1416
Number of pages17
JournalChild Development
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2010
Externally publishedYes

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