The data analyzed in this paper were collected by many individuals during their time at the Cognitive Development Unit. In particular, I should like to thank Mani DasGupta, Fran Siddons, and Laila Thaiss. We are all grateful to the staff and pupils of the following schools: Broomhayes, Castlebar, Doucecroft, Glebe, Harborough, Heathlands, Helen Allison, Portfield, Ramsden, Shelley, Springhallow, Sybil Elgar, Thornhill Park, and Whitefield School. I would also like to thank my colleagues at the CDU, and especially Uta Frith and Chris Frith, for their help and advice in preparing this paper.
The Role of Age and Verbal Ability in the Theory of Mind Task Performance of Subjects with Autism
Article first published online: 28 JUN 2008
Volume 66, Issue 3, pages 843–855, June 1995
How to Cite
Happé, F. G. E. (1995), The Role of Age and Verbal Ability in the Theory of Mind Task Performance of Subjects with Autism. Child Development, 66: 843–855. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.1995.tb00909.x
- Issue published online: 28 JUN 2008
- Article first published online: 28 JUN 2008
A number of studies have reported that most children with autism fail theory of mind tasks. It is unclear why certain children with autism pass such tests and what might be different about these subjects. In the present study, the role of age and verbal ability in theory of mind task performance was explored. Data were pooled from 70 autistic, 34 mentally handicapped, and 70 normal young subjects, previously tested for a number of different studies. The analysis suggested that children with autism required far higher verbal mental age to pass false belief tasks than did other subjects. While normally developing children had a 50% probability of passing both tasks at the verbal mental age of 4 years, autistic subjects took more than twice as long to reach this probability of success (at the advanced verbal mental age of 9-2). Possible causal relations between verbal ability and the ability to represent mental states are discussed.