Relationship between cognitive disengagement syndrome (CDS) (formerly sluggish cognitive tempo) and social functioning in child autism, ADHD, and elementary school samples

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Background and aims: No studies have compared relationships between specific social functioning deficits and cognitive disengagement syndrome/CDS (formerly sluggish cognitive tempo) in autism, ADHD, and general population child samples. Methods: Mothers rated 1177 children with autism, 725 with ADHD-Combined, and 307 with ADHD-Inattentive (4–17 years) and 665 elementary school children (6–12 years) on the Pediatric Behavior Scale. Results: In all four groups, children with CDS had significantly greater frequencies of rejection by peers than children without CDS, and in the three clinical groups, withdrawn/shy behavior was significantly more prevalent in children with CDS. Low prosocial behavior did not differ between children with and without CDS. CDS contributed significantly and independently to predicting withdrawn/shy behavior and peer rejection, although its contribution was small compared with some other psychological problems. Overall, autism symptoms were the most powerful predictors of withdrawn/shy behavior and peer rejection. Conclusions and implications: CDS studies sometimes control for ADHD and other psychopathology in multivariate analyses, but autism is usually overlooked. This is a critical oversight because CDS is as common in autism as in ADHD and because social problems, autism symptoms, and CDS are significantly interrelated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number102250
JournalResearch in Autism Spectrum Disorders
StatePublished - Oct 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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