More than 20 years ago, Minshew and colleagues proposed the Complex Information Processing model of autism in which the impairment is characterized as a generalized deficit involving multiple modalities and cognitive domains that depend on distributed cortical systems responsible for higher order abilities. Subsequent behavioral work revealed a related dissociation between concept formation and concept identification in autism suggesting the lack of an underlying organizational structure to manage increases in processing loads. The results of a recent study supported the impact of this relative weakness in conceptual reasoning on adaptive functioning in children and adults with autism. In this study, we provide further evidence of the difficulty relatively able older adolescents and adults with autism have with conceptual reasoning and provide evidence that this characterizes their difference from age- and ability-matched controls with typical development better than their differences in language. For verbal adults with autism, language may serve as a bootstrap or compensatory mechanism for learning but cannot overcome an inherent weakness in concept formation that makes information processing challenging as task demands increase.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Developmental and Educational Psychology