Three groups of adults (with Down syndrome, age- and IQ-matched with ASD, and age-matched typically developing) were tested on perspective-taking ability and ability to recognize social cues. The ability to recognize static, dynamic, and socially-contextualized facial expressions of emotion was also tested. The ASD and DS groups demonstrated similar difficulties in recognizing negative facial expressions and understanding the perspective of others. However, the ASD group demonstrated lower overall accuracy in identifying facial expressions and in recognizing social cues. There was no evidence that facial expression recognition ability mediates the relationship between perspective-taking ability and the ability to recognize social cues. These results suggest that even though adults with Down syndrome generally demonstrate fewer socio-cognitive impairments than do adults with ASD, they still present with some limitations. Implications for comparing adults with DS and ASD on the study variables in the context of intervention and additional study are examined.
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Thesis advisor: Ley, Robert
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