Individuals with autism demonstrate impairments on measures of executive function (EF) relative to typically developing comparison participants. EF is comprised of several processes including inhibition, working memory and set shifting that develop throughout the lifespan. Impairments in EF may appear early in development and persist, or may represent a more transient delay which resolves with time. Given the unevenness of the cognitive profile of persons with autism, understanding the development of EF poses methodological challenges. These issues include those related to matching measures and the choice of comparison participants to which the performance of persons with autism will be compared. In the current review, we attempt to break down the processes of inhibition, working memory and set shifting among persons with autism. We propose to do this within a developmental perspective that highlights how matching measures and comparison participants can affect the interpretation of research findings.
- Cognitive development
- Executive function