Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 19, Issue 1, pp 119–127

Role taking and social competence in autism and mental retardation


  • Donald P. Oswald
    • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
  • Thomas H. Ollendick
    • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

DOI: 10.1007/BF02212723

Cite this article as:
Oswald, D.P. & Ollendick, T.H. J Autism Dev Disord (1989) 19: 119. doi:10.1007/BF02212723


Recent data suggest that individuals with autism show deficits in social cognitive abilities when compared with nonautistic persons matched for mental age. These deficits have been proposed as a basis for the social interaction difficulties seen in autistic persons. In the present study, autistic youth were compared with a matched group of nonautistic mentally retarded youth on three role-taking tasks and three measures of social competence. Results indicated that the autistic group was relatively deficient on each of the social competence measures and on one of the role-taking measures. The role-taking measure on which the groups differed also correlated significantly with each of the social competence measures. Results were discussed in terms of the interplay between social cognitive abilities and social interaction.

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© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1989