This research was generously supported by a grant from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (RO1 HD 18833), and this paper was prepared with the support of the Bunting Institute, Radcliffe College. Portions of the data reported here were presented at the 1989 biennial meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development in Kansas City, MO. I would like to thank the following people for their help at various stages in the collection and preparation of the transcripts, as well as the coding of the data: Therese Baumberger, Marcia Anderson, Tina Nolin, Susan Calkins, Gail Rex Andrick, and Ann Chadwick-Dias. I also wish to extend my sincere gratitude to the children and their families who participated in this study.
Autistic Children's Talk about Psychological States: Deficits in the Early Acquisition of a Theory of Mind
Version of Record online: 28 JUN 2008
Volume 63, Issue 1, pages 161–172, February 1992
How to Cite
Tager-Flusberg, H. (1992), Autistic Children's Talk about Psychological States: Deficits in the Early Acquisition of a Theory of Mind. Child Development, 63: 161–172. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.1992.tb03604.x
- Issue online: 28 JUN 2008
- Version of Record online: 28 JUN 2008
Spontaneous speech samples collected from 6 autistic and 6 age- and language-matched Down syndrome controls over the course of 1–2 years were analyzed for the presence of language referring to different psychological states. Utterances containing lexical terms for desire, perception, emotion, and cognition were functionally coded to distinguish conversation uses of such terms from actual reference to mental states, and for perception terms to distinguish reference to perception from calls for joint attention. The main findings were that autistic children were comparable to the Down syndrome control subjects in their talk about desire, perception and emotion. However, they used significantly less language to call for attention and to refer to cognitive mental states. These results are discussed in relation to current theories about the nature of the psychological deficit in autism.