Date of Submission


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)



Department Chair

Robert A DiTomasso, PhD, ABPP

First Advisor

George McCloskey, PhD, Chairperson

Second Advisor

Jessica Glass Kendorski, PhD

Third Advisor

Norina Bobik, PsyD


Executive Functions (EF) have been assigned a causative role in a number of disorders, including schizophrenia, Tourette syndrome, autism, obsessive compulsive disorder, violent and criminal behavior, and nearly all learning disabilities. While the term executive functions in the professional literature easily yields more than 150 references, empirical research in which executive functions are studied and linked with specific disorders, such as autism, continues to help answer long-held questions about the disorder and adds to the literature base in order to better understand and treat the disorder. The purpose of this study was to review archival data collected using the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Functions (BRIEF) for the purpose of profiling executive dysfunction for adolescents with autism. The sample was comprised of 76 male and female public middle and high school students with autism spectrum disorder. All participants were assessed using the BRIEF Teacher Form. This study revealed that teachers’ ratings with the BRIEF reflected a high level of executive function deficiency in the behaviors of adolescents with autism. Overall, results of the analyses revealed that most domains of the BRIEF yielded clinically significant results. Students with autism who were educated in inclusion settings appeared to exhibit fewer problem behaviors and therefore appear to be making greater use of executive functions capacities than students who were educated in self-contained settings. The executive function deficits demonstrated by students with autism necessitate involvement in educational programs that address these students’ needs for greater external prompting. This study is limited by the relatively small sample size, narrow age range of the participants, and the highly specialized nature of the programming in a single state.