Impaired Performance on See-Know Tasks Amongst Children with Autism: Evidence of Specific Difficulties with Theory of Mind or Domain-General Task Factors?
- 413 Downloads
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.
KeywordsAutism 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.
- American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed.). New York: American Psychiatric Association.Google Scholar
- Baron-Cohen, S., & Goodhart, F. (1994). The ‘seeing-leads-to-knowing’ deficit in autism: The Pratt and Bryant probe. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 12, 397–401.Google Scholar
- Dunn, L. M., Dunn, L. M., Whetton, C., & Burley, L. (1997). British picture vocabulary scale (2nd ed.). Windsor: NFER-Nelson.Google Scholar
- Frith, U. (1989). Autism: Explaining the enigma. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
- Leslie, A. M., & Frith, U. (1988). Autistic children’s understanding of seeing, knowing and believing. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 6, 315–324.Google Scholar
- Perner, J. (1991). Understanding the representational mind. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
- Rea, L. M., & Parker, R. A. (1997). Designing and conducting survey research: A comprehensive guide (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
- Wimmer, H., & Gschaider, A. (2000). Children’s understanding of belief: Why it is important to understand what happened. In P. Mitchell & K. J. Riggs (Eds.), Children’s reasoning and the mind (pp. 253–266). Hove: Psychology Press.Google Scholar
- World Health Organization. (1993). International classification of diseases (10th ed.). Geneva: World Health Organization.Google Scholar