The assessment of executive functioning in people with intellectual disabilities: an exploratory analysis

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Abstract

Summary

The following article details a piece of service development work undertaken as part of the Plymouth Down Syndrome Screening Programme. The work aimed to review the use of three measures assessing executive functioning skills used within the Programme as well as with people without Down syndrome. Three tasks assessing executive functioning (the Weigl, Cats and Dogs, and verbal fluency task) were evaluated. The Weigl task was removed from the Programme and analyses due to floor effects and difficulties in administration. Correlation analyses showed relationships between the Cats and Dogs task and two other measures, cognitive skills as reported by carers and object memory. No relationships were found between the verbal fluency task and other measures. A full consideration is given to these findings, and implications for future practice are considered. Further data are needed to make full conclusions about the value of the tasks in predicting dementia in people with intellectual disabilities and people with Down syndrome. Further recommendations concerning the development of the assessment of executive skills are also considered.

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