Publication Date


Document Type


Committee Members

Jeffery Allen (Committee Chair), Allison Fernander (Committee Member), Janeece Warfield (Committee Member)

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)


One of the most prominent theories of autism and Asperger's Disorder suggests that their symptoms arise from a primary deficit in executive functions (EF). While many researchers have argued that the executive dysfunction profile may be used as diagnostic support, there have been studies to suggest that autism and Asperger's Disorder may not be clearly differentiated from other clinical disorders on the basis of their executive functioning profiles (e.g., Booth, et al., 2003). Therefore, it is important to examine specific aspects of executive functioning (e.g., cognitive planning, etc.) among children diagnosed with autism and Asperger's Disorder in order to determine whether a distinct executive dysfunction profile exists among these populations. In the current investigation, a meta-analysis of 33 studies that administered cognitive planning measures to groups diagnosed with autism and Asperger's Disorder (total N = 1,020) and without autism or Asperger's Disorder (N = 1,591) was conducted. While children diagnosed with autism and Asperger's Disorder exhibited significant weaknesses in cognitive planning, there was a lack of universality of cognitive planning deficits among individuals with autism and Asperger's Disorder relative to other clinical groups. Overall, these findings suggest that cognitive planning weaknesses are neither necessary nor sufficient to cause all cases of autism and Asperger's Disorder. Rather, difficulties with cognitive planning appear to be one important component of the complex neuropsychology of ASDs.

Page Count


Department or Program

School of Professional Psychology

Year Degree Awarded


Included in

Psychology Commons