Does theory of mind performance differ in children with early-onset and regressive autism?
Article first published online: 29 SEP 2011
© 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd
Volume 15, Issue 1, pages 25–34, January 2012
How to Cite
Matthews, N. L., Goldberg, W. A., Lukowski, A. F., Osann, K., Abdullah, M. M., Ly, A. R., Thorsen, K. and Anne Spence, M. (2012), Does theory of mind performance differ in children with early-onset and regressive autism?. Developmental Science, 15: 25–34. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-7687.2011.01094.x
- Issue published online: 17 JAN 2012
- Article first published online: 29 SEP 2011
- Received: 17 April 2010 Accepted: 16 June 2011
A deficit in theory of mind (ToM), or the ability to infer the mental states of others, has been implicated as one of the major characteristics of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD); however, little attention has been devoted to possible differences in ToM ability within ASD. The current study examined ToM performance in children with early-onset autism and regressive autism in comparison to typically developing children. Results indicated that children in the regressive autism group performed significantly better than the early-onset autism group on the non-verbal appearance–reality task. Additionally, Fisher’s exact tests indicated a pattern of lowest scores in the early-onset group and highest scores in the typically developing group, whereas the regressive autism group tended to score in between the early-onset and typically developing groups. The apparent heterogeneity in ToM performance within ASD could account for the lack of universality in ToM ability found in previous studies.