Theory of Mind development in both autistic and typically-developing children

(A Critical Discussion)


The development of Theory of the Mind (ToM) during the first five years of life is a fundamental process in typical childhood development. The term Theory of Mind describes the ability to understand people as mental beings and having mental states that do not necessarily coincide with ours (Astington and Edward, 2010).

Although research on ToM is profuse, there are still many areas where research has been unable to find satisfactory answers and many findings where the interpretation is not consensual. Such is the case of the development of ToM is children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Children in ASD show evidence of having an impaired ToM, but a body of research is now challenging this mainstream view (e.g. Chevallier, Parish-Morris, Tonge, Miller and Schultz, 2014), either proposing alternative interpretations, questioning the methodology used in tasks designed to evaluate the existence of ToM, or expanding the theory to encompass additional features of ASD.

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