Simple Mindreading Abilities Predict Complex Theory of Mind: Developmental Delay in Autism Spectrum Disorders

Abstract

Theory of mind (ToM) is impaired in individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The aims of this study were to: (i) examine the developmental trajectories of ToM abilities in two different mentalizing tasks in children with ASD compared to TD children; and (ii) to assess if a ToM simple test known as eyes-test could predict performance on the more advanced ToM task, i.e. comic strip test. Based on a sample of 37 children with ASD and 55 TD children, our results revealed slower development at varying rates in all ToM measures in children with ASD, with delayed onset compared to TD children. These results could stimulate new treatments for social abilities, which would lessen the social deficit in ASD.

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Author Contributions

MCP, MM, FF and MV designed research; MM and SP collected data; MCP, DD and FM analyzed the data; All authors have contributed to write the paper.

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Correspondence to Maria Chiara Pino.

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Pino, M.C., Mazza, M., Mariano, M. et al. Simple Mindreading Abilities Predict Complex Theory of Mind: Developmental Delay in Autism Spectrum Disorders. J Autism Dev Disord 47, 2743–2756 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-017-3194-1

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Keywords

  • Autism spectrum disorders (ASD)
  • Developmental trajectories approach
  • Eyes task
  • Comic strip test (CST)
  • Theory of mind (ToM)