An international Sluggish Cognitive Tempo (SCT) Work Group proposed a new term for SCT, “cognitive disengagement syndrome,” that more accurately describes the syndrome than does SCT. According to the Work Group, symptoms of SCT represent a cognitive dimension (cognitive disengagement) and a motor dimension (hypoactivity). Our study determined (1) if distinct factors representing cognitive disengagement and hypoactivity emerged when SCT items were factor analyzed and (2) the degree of diferences in cognitive disengagement and hypoactivity within diagnostic groups. Mothers rated 1,177 children with autism, 725 with ADHD-Combined, and 307 with ADHD-Inattentive (4–17 years) and 665 elementary school children (6–12 years) on the Pediatric Behavior Scale (PBS). SCT prevalence rates were autism 32%, ADHD-Inattentive 27%, ADHD-Combined 18%, and elementary school students 7%. Factor analysis of the SCT items yielded two factors refecting cognitive disengagement (in a fog/confused and stares/preoccupied/in own world) and hypoactivity (sluggish/slow moving/ low energy, drowsy/sleepy/not alert, and tires easily) in all diagnostic groups. Cognitive disengagement prevalence rates and scores were signifcantly higher than hypoactivity in the autism and ADHD-C groups and in the autism and ADHD-C subgroups of children with SCT (but not in the ADHD-I and elementary school total groups and SCT subgroups). Our fndings factor analyzing fve SCT items support two SCT subfactors: cognitive disengagement and hypoactivity.
An international Sluggish Cognitive Tempo (SCT) Work Group (Becker et al., in press) has proposed “cognitive disengagement syndrome” (CDS) as a new term for SCT that more accurately describes this syndrome than does the term SCT. Symptoms of SCT represent both a cognitive dimension (e.g., spacey, blank staring, daydreaming, in own world, in a fog, and confused) and a motor dimension (hypoactive, slow moving, lethargic, and drowsy) (Becker et al., in press). This constellation of cognitive and motor symptoms is consistent across clinical and community samples in factor analytic studies, has strong convergent and divergent validity, and is statistically related to but distinct from other symptom constellations, such as attention defcit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)-Inattentive symptoms and other psychopathologies (Becker et al., 2016; Dvorsky et al., 2019; Hartman et al., 2004; Lee et al., 2014; Mayes et al., 2020, 2021a; Mayes, Waschbusch, Fernandez-Mendoza, & Calhoun, 2021b; Penny et al., 2009; Saez, Servera, Becker, & Burns, 2019; Willcutt et al., 2014).
The term SCT was criticized quite some time ago (Barkley, 2014) and again recently (Waschbusch, 2021) because of lack of empirical evidence that SCT results from a cognitive tempo defcit (e.g., slow processing speed) and because the term may be pejorative and ofensive (e.g., possibly implying that the individual has low intelligence or is slow witted). Results of a recent qualitative study (Becker et al., 2022) found that about one-half of parents of children with SCT had a negative reaction to the term “sluggish cognitive tempo.” A common reason for their negative reaction was that SCT inaccurately implies (to some) laziness or low intelligence. Likewise, SCT may be a misnomer in that studies show a very weak signifcant or nonsignifcant association between SCT and slow performance and processing speed, despite what the term implies (Bauermeister et al., 2012; Baytunca et al., 2018; Callan et al., 2020; Creque & Willcutt, 2021; Jacobson et al., 2018; Kofer et al., 2019; Mayes et al., 2021c, in press; Reinvall et al., 2017; Tamm et al., 2018; Willard et al., 2013; Willcutt et al., 2014; Wood et al., 2017; for a review, see Barkley, Jacobson, & Willcutt, 2022). Slower reaction time, another possibly presumed correlate of SCT, was weakly but signifcantly correlated with SCT in one study (Camprodon-Rosanas et al., 2020) but not in three other studies (Baytunca et al., 2018; Creque & Willcutt, 2021; Skirbeck, Hansen, Oerbeck, & Kristensen, 2011).
Our fndings factor analyzing fve SCT items support two SCT subfactors: cognitive disengagement and hypoactivity. This is consistent with an international SCT Work Group’s position that SCT comprises symptoms representing a cognitive dimension (e.g., spacey, blank staring, daydreaming, in own world, in a fog, and confused) and a motor dimension (hypoactive, slow moving, lethargic, and drowsy) (Becker et al., in press).