Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 25, Issue 4, pp 415-433

First online:

Teaching theory of mind: A new approach to social skills training for individuals with autism

  • Sally OzonoffAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Utah
  • , Judith N. MillerAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Utah

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This study examined the effectiveness of a social skills training program for normal-IQ adolescents with autism. Five boys participated in the 4 1/2-month treatment condition; four boys matched on age, IQ, and severity of autism constituted the no-treatment control group. In addition to teaching specific interactional and conversational skills, the training program provided expliciand systematic instruction in the underlying social-cognitive principles necessary to infer the mental states of others (i.e., theory of mind). Pre- and post-intervention assessment demonstrated meaningful change in the treatment group's performance on several false belief tasks, but no improvement in the control sample. No changes, however, were demonstrated on general parent and teacher ratings of social competence for either group.