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Durham University



Publication details for Professor Deborah Riby

McDougal, E. Riby, D. M. & Hanley, M. (2020). Profiles of academic achievement and attention in children with and without Autism Spectrum Disorder. Research in Developmental Disabilities (Special edition) 106: 103749.

Author(s) from Durham


Academic outcomes for autistic individuals are heterogeneous, but the reasons for this are unknown. Attention is known to predict learning in typical development, but there is less evidence about this relationship in Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), even though attention is reported as atypical in this group.

To investigate reading and maths achievement profiles for children with and without an ASD, focusing on the role of attention in these profiles and to enable a better understanding of individual differences.

Reading, maths and attention abilities of 22 autistic children (6−16 years) and 59 TD children (6–11 years) were measured using standardised assessments.

A hierarchical cluster analysis that included all children (N = 81) revealed three distinct transdiagnostic subgroups, characterised by children with good, average, and poorer divided attention and academic achievement respectively. Children with poorer attention and achievement displayed relative weaknesses in maths, while children with average or above-average attention and achievement showed no such weakness.

The findings provide a novel insight into the relationship between attention and achievement and

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