Neuropsychological predictors of driving hazard detection in autism spectrum disorder and ADHD

Academic Article


  • Driving is a neuropsychologically complex task; this can present challenges for individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs) such asautism spectrum disorder (ASD) and attention–deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Deficits in theory of mind (ToM) and executive function (EF) are common features of ASD and ADHD, respectively, and may influence driving processes such as hazard perception. No studies have directly examined the neuropsychological contributions to hazard detection among drivers with ASD compared to ADHD.In the current study, 48 participants ages 16-30 years (13 ASD, 17 ADHD, 18 typically developing (TD)) completed a driving simulator task in which they encountered hazards in the driving environment. Hazards varied in whether they were social (contained a human component) or nonsocial (were physical objects) to examine the contribution of ToM and social processing to hazard response. Additionally, participants completed a neuropsychological battery targeting ToM and EF/attention skills (cognitive tasks and self-report measures).Within the ASD group, participants responded relatively slower to social compared to nonsocial hazards; no effect of hazard type was observed in the ADHD or TD groups. Additionally, measures of ToM and EF were correlated with driving performanceamong ASD participants; within the ADHD group, only self-reported behavior regulation was associated with driving performance. Broadly, this suggests that cognitive factors such as ToM and EF impact driving hazard performance in ASD and ADHD. The results of the study have implications for developing driving intervention programs for individuals with NDDs.
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Bednarz HM; Kana RK; Svancara AM; Sherrod GM; Stavrinos D
  • Start Page

  • 857
  • End Page

  • 887
  • Volume

  • 27
  • Issue

  • 7