Social cognition and underlying cognitive mechanisms in children with an extra X chromosome: a comparison with autism spectrum disorder



Individuals with an extra X chromosome are at increased risk for autism symptoms. This study is the first to assess theory of mind and facial affect labeling in children with an extra X chromosome. Forty-six children with an extra X chromosome (29 boys with Klinefelter syndrome and 17 girls with Trisomy X), 56 children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and 88 non-clinical controls, aged 9–18 years, were included. Similar to children with ASD, children with an extra X chromosome showed significant impairments in social cognition. Regression analyses showed that different cognitive functions predicted social cognitive skills in the extra X and ASD groups. The social cognitive deficits were similar for boys and girls with an extra X chromosome, and not specific for a subgroup with high Autism Diagnostic Interview Revised autism scores. Thus, children with an extra X chromosome show social cognitive deficits, which may contribute to social dysfunction, not only in children showing a developmental pattern that is ‘typical’ for autism but also in those showing mild or late presenting autism symptoms. Our findings may also help explain variance in type of social deficit: children may show similar social difficulties, but these may arise as a consequence of different underlying information processing deficits.