The present study examined attention and memory load-dependent differences in the brain activation and deactivation patterns between adolescents with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) and typically developing (TD) controls using functional magnetic resonance imaging. Attentional (0-back) and working memory (WM; 2-back) processing and load differences (0 vs. 2-back) were analysed. WM-related areas activated and default mode network deactivated normally in ASDs as a function of task load. ASDs performed the attentional 0-back task similarly to TD controls but showed increased deactivation in cerebellum and right temporal cortical areas and weaker activation in other cerebellar areas. Increasing task load resulted in multiple responses in ASDs compared to TD and in inadequate modulation of brain activity in right insula, primary somatosensory, motor and auditory cortices. The changes during attentional task may reflect compensatory mechanisms enabling normal behavioral performance. The inadequate memory load-dependent modulation of activity suggests diminished compensatory potential in ASD.