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Reading and arithmetic in adolescents with autism spectrum disorders: Peaks and dips in attainment

By Catherine Jones and Tony Charman


In describing academic attainment in autism spectrum disorders (ASD), results are typically reported at the group mean level. This may mask subgroups of individuals for whom academic achievement is incommensurate with intellectual ability. The authors tested the IQ, literacy, and mathematical abilities of a large group (N = 100) of adolescents (14–16 years old) with ASD. Seventy-three percent of the sample had at least one area of literacy or mathematical achievement that was highly discrepant (approximately 14 standard score points) from full-scale IQ (FSIQ). The authors focused on four subgroups with either word reading (“Reading Peak” and “Reading Dip”) or arithmetic (“Arithmetic Peak” and “Arithmetic Dip”) higher or lower than FSIQ. These subgroups were largely mutually exclusive and were characterized by distinct intellectual profiles. The largest was the “Arithmetic Peak” subgroup of participants, who presented with average intellectual ability alongside superior arithmetic skills and who were predominantly in a mainstream educational setting. Overall, the most pervasive profile was discrepantly poor reading comprehension, which associated with severity of social and communication difficulties. The high rate of uneven academic attainment in ASD has implications for educational practice

Year: 2009
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