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British J of Dev Psycho - 2023 - Ford - Self‐processing and social functioning in autistic preschoolers.pdf (305.14 kB)

Self-processing and social functioning in autistic preschoolers

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posted on 2023-11-24, 15:15 authored by Ruth Ford, Tracy McLean
There is evidence of weak self-processing in autism spectrum disorder (ASD), including diminished self-reference effects (SREs) in memory. Because smaller SREs in older ASD children and adults are sometimes associated with worse social functioning, we examined this relation for the first time in ASD preschoolers (n=21). Following a self-performed task, children completed tests of self/other source memory, verbal ability, imitation and mentalizing. Although the ASD children were outperformed on the socio-cognitive measures by non-autistic preschoolers (n=20), they still showed a significant SRE. Moreover, the SRE, but not the socio-cognitive variables, was a significant predictor of children's social functioning as rated by parents. Larger SREs were linked with better social functioning, while children with stronger autism traits showed no memory advantage for information encoded self-referentially. These findings support previous research showing that self-processing impairments in ASD are mainly apparent for individuals with greater social difficulties



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British Journal of Developmental Psychology





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