Executive function and social communication deficits in young autistic children

R. E. McEvoy, Sally J Rogers, B. F. Pennington

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

285 Scopus citations


Preschool-aged, autistic children were compared with both developmentally delayed children of similar non-verbal mental age and normally developing children of similar verbal skill on measures of executive function and social communication skills. Autistic children exhibited significantly more perseverative responses on a test of executive function when compared to both comparison groups. Autistic children also exhibited significantly fewer joint attention and social interaction behaviors. Moreover, a significant relationship was found between executive function skill and the two social communication skills, which was independent of group membership or verbal ability. Competing hypotheses to account for the relationship between executive function deficits and social communication deficits in autism are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)563-578
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1993
Externally publishedYes


  • Autism
  • Executive function
  • Joint attention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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