Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 40, Issue 4, pp 479–484 | Cite as

Impaired Performance on See-Know Tasks Amongst Children with Autism: Evidence of Specific Difficulties with Theory of Mind or Domain-General Task Factors?

  • Sophie E. Lind
  • Dermot M. Bowler
Original paper


It is widely assumed that children with autism have a diminished understanding of the perception-knowledge relationship, as a specific manifestation of a theory of mind (ToM) impairment. However, such a conclusion may not be justified on the basis of previous studies, which have suffered from significant methodological weaknesses. The current study aimed to avoid such problems by adopting more stringent participant matching methods, using a larger sample (N = 80), and implementing a new, more rigorous control task in order to ensure that non-ToM task factors were not confounding results. After excluding children who failed the control task, it was found that children with autism were moderately impaired in their understanding of the perception-knowledge relationship, relative to age- and verbal ability matched comparison children.


Autism spectrum disorder Control task Ignorance Knowledge Perception Theory of mind 



This research was supported by a City University Ph.D. Studentship awarded to the first author. This manuscript was prepared during a Mentor-Based Postdoctoral Fellowship awarded to the authors by Autism Speaks. We would like to thank the following schools for their participation in this research: Bensham Manor, Brent Knoll, Hillingdon Manor, Kilmorie, Linden Bridge, Southmead, Pendragon, St. Winifred’s, The Park, and West Wimbledon. Finally, we are extremely grateful to Dr David Williams, Dr Sebastian Gaigg, Professor Chris Jarrold, and the anonymous reviewers of this manuscript for helpful comments on an earlier draft.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyCity UniversityLondonUK

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