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Rodney Ford


The present study examined information-processing (IP) deficits specific to the ability of individuals with Asperger's disorder (AD) to interpret and respond to nonverbal and verbal information inherent in social relationships as it relates to working memory capacity. Sixty boys between the ages of 11.0 and 15.7 years (30 diagnosed with AD [Group A], and 30 typically developing, same-age peers [Group T]) were assessed using the Working Memory Test Battery for Children (WMTB-C). The present study combined theories from cognitive, neurological, and clinical psychology, isolated specific working memory components, and identified a connection between working memory capacity and the social skill deficiencies of individuals with AD. Three working memory scores (i.e., verbal [PL], visual-spatial [VSSP], and complex [CE]) were compared between the two groups using ANOVA. All working memory differences examined between the two groups in the present study were statistically different. The effect sizes of differences between Groups A and T for PL, VSSP, and CE were .397, .279, and .627, respectively. The results of the present study support the hypothesis that working memory is a specific IP deficit of individuals with AD. Findings suggest that by targeting remedial efforts to enhance working memory capacity, individuals with AD can more effectively engage in complex IP tasks, participate in reciprocal social interactions, and thereby create social change. Future research needs to expand upon the connection between working memory capacity and the social deficiencies of individuals with Asperger's disorder.