Neuropsychological and ASD phenotypes in rare genetic syndromes: A critical review of the literature

Lauren Bush*, Megan N. Scott

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Objective: Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complex neurodevelopmental condition characterized by core deficits in social communication and restricted and repetitive behaviors and interests. Recent advances in clinical genetics have improved our understanding of genetic syndromes associated with ASD, which has helped clarify distinct etiologies of ASD and document syndrome-specific profiles of neurocognitive strengths and weaknesses. Pediatric neuropsychologists have the potential to be impactful members of the care team for children with genetic syndromes and their families. Method: We provide a critical review of the current literature related to the neuropsychological profiles of children with four genetic syndromes associated with ASD, including Tuberous Sclerosis Complex (TSC), fragile X syndrome (FXS), 22q11.2 deletion syndrome, and Angelman syndrome. Recommendations for assessment, intervention, and future directions are provided. Results: There is vast heterogeneity in terms of the cognitive, language, and developmental abilities of these populations. The within- and across-syndrome variability characteristic of genetic syndromes should be carefully considered during clinical evaluations, including possible measurement limitations, presence of intellectual disability, and important qualitative differences in the ASD-phenotypes across groups. Conclusions: Individuals with genetic disorders pose challenging diagnostic and assessment questions. Pediatric neuropsychologists with expertise in neurodevelopmental processes are well suited to address these questions and identify profiles of neurocognitive strengths and weaknesses, tailor individualized recommendations, and provide diagnostic clarification.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)993-1027
Number of pages35
JournalClinical Neuropsychologist
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2022


  • 22q11.2 deletion syndrome
  • Angelman syndrome
  • Genetic syndromes
  • Tuberous Sclerosis Complex
  • autism spectrum disorder
  • fragile X syndrome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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