Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) have problems in communicating and social interaction skills. Moreover, deficits in pragmatic language and executive functions are among the most important causes of communication and social interaction problems in this group. The present study aimed to determine the relationship between executive functioning and two of its indices (behavior regulation and metacognition), and pragmatic language in children with ASD.
This was a descriptive, cross-sectional study. The study population included all 6- to 11-year-old children with ASD in Tehran autism schools in the academic year 2017-2018. A total of 74 children with ASD (68 boys and 6 girls) (Mean±SD age: 8.58±1.88 y) were selected from autism schools in Tehran City, Iran, using a convenience sampling method. The Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function (BRIEF) and the Children’s Communication Checklist (CCC) were used to collect data.
The significant, negative correlations were found between executive functioning and pragmatic language (r=-0.47, P<0.001); behavioral regulation and pragmatic language (r=-0.42, P<0.001); and metacognition and pragmatic language (r=-0.45, P<0.001).
The study results suggest that the better the executive functioning and its indices performance in children with ASD, the fewer their difficulties in the proper use of language in social situations would be. In addition, the ability to use language appropriately in different social situations allows students with ASD to control their behavior and thoughts in these situations better. According to the obtained results, the language skills of children with ASD can be improved through designing appropriate therapeutic interventions to improve executive functioning and its indices in them.