Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 45, Issue 1, pp 138–156 | Cite as

Revisiting Cognitive and Adaptive Functioning in Children and Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder

  • Nicole L. Matthews
  • Elena Pollard
  • Sharman Ober-Reynolds
  • Janet Kirwan
  • Amanda Malligo
  • Christopher J. Smith
Original Paper


Profiles of performance on the Stanford Binet Intelligence Scales (SB5) and Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales (VABS) were examined in 73 children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder. SB5 cognitive profiles were observed to be similar between participants with and without early language delay, but different between participants with and without intellectual disability. With few exceptions, the distribution and cognitive profiles of participants with specific nonverbal IQ–verbal IQ and abbreviated IQ–full scale IQ discrepancy patterns paralleled previous reports. A cognitive functioning advantage over adaptive functioning was observed to be strongest in participants without intellectual disability and older participants. The previously reported VABS “autism profile” was not observed. Current findings clarify previous research and will inform the diagnostic process and treatment planning.


Autism spectrum disorder Cognitive functioning Intelligence Adaptive functioning Stanford-Binet Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales 



We thank Autism Speaks and the Autism Genetic Research Exchange (AGRE) for financial support of this project. We gratefully acknowledge the contributions made by Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center research staff to data collection and coding. We also thank the families who participated in this study.


  1. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.Google Scholar
  2. Billstedt, E. E. (2005). Autism after adolescence: population-based 13- to 22-year follow-up study of 120 individuals with autism diagnosed in childhood. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 35, 351–360. doi: 10.1007/s10803-005-3302-5.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Carter, A. S., Volkmar, F. R., Sparrow, S. S., Wang, J. J., Lord, C., Dawson, G., et al. (1998). The Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales: Supplementary norms for individuals with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 28, 287–302.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Chakrabarti, S., & Fombonne, E. (2005). Pervasive developmental disorders in preschool children: Confirmation of high prevalence. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 162(6), 1133–1141. doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.162.6.1133.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Charman, T., Pickles, A., Simonoff, E., Chandler, S., Loucas, T., & Baird, G. (2011). IQ in children with autism spectrum disorders: data from the Special Needs and Autism Project (SNAP). Psychological Medicine, 41, 619–627. doi: 10.1017/S0033291710000991.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Coolican, J., Bryson, S. E., & Zwaigenbaum, L. (2008). Brief report: Data on the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scales (5th ed.) in children with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 38, 190–197. doi: 10.1007/s10803-007-0368-2.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Duncan, A. W., & Bishop, S. L. (2013). Understanding the gap between cognitive abilities and daily living skills in adolescents with autism spectrum disorders with average intelligence. Autism. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1177/1362361313510068.
  8. Farley, M. A., McMahon, W. M., Fombonne, E., Jenson, W. R., Miller, J., Gardner, M., et al. (2009). Twenty-year outcome for individuals with autism and average or near-average cognitive abilities. Autism Research, 2, 109–118. doi: 10.1002/aur.69.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Fenton, G., D’Ardia, C., Valente, D., Vecchio, I., Fabrizi, A., & Bernabei, P. (2003). Vineland adaptive behavior profiles in children with autism and moderate to severe developmental delay. Autism, 7, 269–287. doi: 10.1177/13623613030073004.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Filipek, P. A., Accardo, P. J., Baranek, G. T., Cook, J., Edwin, H., Dawson, G., et al. (1999). The screening and diagnosis of autistic spectrum disorders. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 29, 439–484. doi: 10.1023/A:1021943802493.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Huynh, H., & Feldt, L. S. (1970). Conditions under which mean square ratios in repeated measures designs have exact F-distributions. Journal of the American Statistical Association, 65(332), 1582–1589. doi: 10.2307/2284340.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Kanne, S. M., Gerber, A. J., Quirmback, L. M., Sparrow, S. S., Cicchetti, D. V., & Saulnier, C. A. (2011). The role of adaptive behavior in autism spectrum disorders: Implications for functional outcome. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 41, 1007–1018. doi: 10.1007/s10803-010-1126-4.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Klin, A., Saulnier, C. A., Sparrow, S. S., Cicchetti, D. V., Volkmar, F. R., & Lord, C. (2007). Social and communication abilities and disabilities in higher functioning individuals with autism spectrum disorders: The Vineland and the ADOS. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 37(4), 748–759. doi: 10.1007/s10803-006-0229-4.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Kraijer, D. (2000). Review of adaptive behavior studies in mentally retarded persons with autism/pervasive developmental disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 30, 39–47. doi: 10.1023/A:1005460027636.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Lennen, D. T., Lamb, G. D., Dunagan, B. J., & Hall, T. A. (2010). Verbal prowess equals higher IQ: Implications for evaluating autism. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 4, 95–101. doi: 10.1016/j.rasd.2009.09.004.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Lincoln, A. J., Allen, M. H., & Kilman, A. (1995). The assessment and interpretation of intellectual abilities in people with autism. In E. Schopler & G. Mesibov (Eds.), Learning and cognition in autism (pp. 89–117). New York: Plenum.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Lord, C., Rutter, M., DiLavore, P. C., & Risi, S. (1999). Autism diagnostic observation schedule manual. Los Angeles, CA: Western Psychological Services.Google Scholar
  18. Magaña, S., Parish, S. L., Rose, R. A., Timberlake, M., & Swaine, J. G. (2012). Racial and ethnic disparities in quality of health care among children with autism and other developmental disabilities. Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 50, 287–299. doi: 10.1352/1934-9556-50.4.287.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Mayes, S. D., & Calhoun, S. L. (2003). Analysis of WISC-III, Stanford-Binet IV, and academic achievement test scores in children with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 33, 329–341.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Mervis, C. B., & Klein-Tasman, B. P. (2004). Methodological issues in group-matching designs: Levels for control variable comparisons and measurement characteristics of control and target variables. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 34, 7–17. doi: 10.1023/B:JADD.0000018069.69562.b8.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Nordin, V., & Gillberg, C. (1998). The long-term course of autistic disorders: update on follow-up studies. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 97, 99–108. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0447.1998.tb09970.x.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Overton, T., Fielding, C., & Garcia de Alba, R. (2007). Differential diagnosis of Hispanic children referred for autism spectrum disorders: Complex issues. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 37, 1996–2007. doi: 10.1007/s10803-006-0349-x.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Perry, A., Flanagan, H. E., Geier, J. D., & Freeman, N. L. (2009). Brief report: The Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales in young children with autism spectrum disorders at different cognitive levels. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 39, 1066–1078. doi: 10.1007/s10803-009-0704-9.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Roid, G. H. (2003). Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scales (5th ed.). Rolling Meadows, IL: Riverside Publishing.Google Scholar
  25. Rutter, M., Le Couteur, A., & Lord, C. (2003). Autism diagnostic interview-revised (ADI-R) manual. Los Angeles, CA: Western Psychological Services.Google Scholar
  26. Siegel, D. J., Minshew, N. J., & Goldstein, G. (1996). Wechsler IQ profiles in diagnosis of high-functioning autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 26, 389–406. doi: 10.1007/BF02172825.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Sparrow, S. S., Balla, D. A., & Cicchetti, D. V. (1984). Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales, survey form manual. Circle Pines, MN: American Guidance Service.Google Scholar
  28. Sparrow, S. S., Cicchetti, D. V., & Balla, D. A. (2005). Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales, survey forms manual (2nd ed.). Bloomington, MN: Pearson Inc.Google Scholar
  29. Szatmari, P., Bryson, S. E., Boyle, M. H., Streiner, D. L., & Duku, E. (2003). Predictors of outcome among high functioning children with autism and Asperger syndrome. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 44, 520–528. doi: 10.1111/1469-7610.00141.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2014). Prevalence of autism spectrum disorder among children aged 8 years—Autism and developmental disabilities monitoring network, 11 sites, United States, 2010. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 63(2), 1–22.Google Scholar
  31. Volkmar, F., Siegel, M., Woodbury-Smith, M., King, B., McCracken, J., State, M., et al. (2014). Practice parameter for the assessment and treatment of children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 53, 237–257. doi: 10.1016/j.jaac.2013.10.013.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Wing, L., Gould, J., & Gillberg, C. (2011). Autism spectrum disorders in the DSM-V: Better or worse than the DSM-IV? Research in Developmental Disabilities, 32, 768–773. doi: 10.1016/j.ridd.2010.11.003.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nicole L. Matthews
    • 1
  • Elena Pollard
    • 1
  • Sharman Ober-Reynolds
    • 1
  • Janet Kirwan
    • 1
  • Amanda Malligo
    • 1
  • Christopher J. Smith
    • 1
  1. 1.Southwest Autism Research and Resource CenterPhoenixUSA

Personalised recommendations