Autism – Theory of Mind
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Autism – Theory of Mind
What is theory of mind? (Dodd, 2005) The “theory of mind” research completed in 1985 by Baron-Cohen using the Sally/Anne Test showed the implications of false belief.

Theory of mind is the thought process and or cognitive function that separates fiction from non-fiction. Theory of mind can also be known as a mental state in autistic children. Theory of mind does not develop in children with autism. These children struggle to understand another persons point of view and why their view is different. They assume everyone thinks the way they do, and they do not understand the concept of others having their own thoughts, opinions or wants. This process impacts on social and communication skills as they see their own thoughts as definitive. This can lead to behaviour problems such as sharing, taking turns and compromising.

The Sally/Anne Test showed that children with autism do not develop theory of mind. This showed children at ages 3-4 were unhappy about others having a different belief. Children with autism dont have the cognitive development to consider that others could have a different belief system to their own.

Frith, U. (1994), Autism and theory of mind in everyday life. Social Development, 3: 108-124. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9507.1994.tb00031.x
(Frith, 1994) agrees that autisic children have neurological damage which prevents the normal operation of the cognitive function (Frith, Morton & Leslie, 1991).

This inhibits the “normal” reciprocal social interaction for understanding the speakers intended meaning in communication, and the contrast between real and imaginary events (Frith, 1989).

Thought-Bubbles Help Children with Autism Acquire an Alternative to a Theory of Mind Autism December 2002 6: 343-363
Children with autism have specific difficulties with false belief,
This article shows that these children could benefit from focused visual teaching methods such as picture in the head strategies and cartoon thought bubbles.

Cartoon thought bubbles were shown to be the easiest method of teaching about how children can understand the thinking processes.

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Autistic Children And Theory Of Mind. (April 3, 2021). Retrieved from