Executive function, repetitive behaviour and restricted interests in neurodevelopmental disorders

Victoria Perry, Katherine Ellis*, Jo Moss, Sarah R. Beck, Gursharan Singla, Hayley Crawford, Jane Waite, Caroline Richards, Chris Oliver

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Background: Individuals with genetic syndromes show unique profiles of repetitive behaviours and restricted interests (RRBs). The executive dysfunction account of RRBs suggests that in autistic (AUT) individuals executive function impairments underpin RRBs, but not communication and social interaction autistic characteristics.

Aims: To 1) describe profiles of behavioural manifestations of executive function (EF behaviours) and 2) explore the relationship between EF behaviours and autistic traits across individuals with Cornelia de Lange (CdLS), fragile X (FXS) and Rubinstein-Taybi syndromes (RTS), and AUT individuals.

Method: Carers completed the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function – Preschool Version and the Social Communication Questionnaire. Data reporting on 25 individuals with CdLS (Mage = 18.60, SD = 8.94), 25 with FXS (Mage = 18.48, SD = 8.80), 25 with RTS (Mage = 18.60, SD = 8.65) and 25 AUT individuals (Mage = 18.52, SD = 8.65) matched on chronological age and adaptive ability were included in analyses.

Results: All groups showed impairments across EF behaviours compared to two-to-three-year-old typically developing normative samples with no differences between groups. Different EF behaviours predicted RRBs in the syndrome groups with no associations found in the AUT group.

Conclusions: Syndrome related differences should be considered when developing targeted interventions that focus on EF behaviours and/or RRBs in these groups.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104166
Number of pages10
JournalResearch in Developmental Disabilities
Early online date8 Jan 2022
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was partially supported by grants from Cerebra Children’s Charity , Newlife Charity for Disabled Children and Baily Thomas Charitable Fund. The funders were not involved in the study design; collection, analysis and interpretation of data; in writing of the report; and in the decision to submit the article for publication.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Elsevier Ltd


  • Autism
  • Executive function
  • Genetic syndromes
  • Repetitive behaviours and restricted interests

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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