• Theory of Mind;
  • Down's Syndrome;
  • specificity;
  • rule use

The relationship between Theory of Mind (ToM) and rule use was explored in adults with Downs Syndrome (DS) and in non-handicapped pre-schoolers. Twelve low-functioning individuals with DS (mean mental age = 5.1 years, mean chronological age = 22.7) performed worse than 12 MA-matchcd non-handicapped children (mean MA =5.1 years) on several standard ToM tasks and on a color-shape card-sorting task in which subjects were required to switch between two incompatible sets of rules. On the ToM tasks, people with DS tended to focus on a single slate of affairs (e.g. the present situation). Likewise, on the card sort. these subjects tended to use a single set of rules on all trials. Performance in the two types of [ask was positively correlated when MA was partialed out. The results are inconsistent with the claim that ToM reflects a domain-specific psychological function and the notion that deficits in ToM are unique to individuals with autism. Copyright © 1996 Association for Child Psychology and Psychiatry.