Autistic Children's Knowledge of Thinking and Feeling States in Other People Academic Article uri icon


  • Autistic children, pair matched on chronological and verbal mental age with control children, were given Hobson's task of recognition of emotions and Baron-Cohen's False Belief tasks to assess the replicability of their findings of deficits in understanding of feeling and mental states in autism. There were no group differences on the emotion tasks and performance was related to chronological and verbal mental age. An autism specific deficit was shown in only one of the false belief conditions and again performance was related to verbal comprehension ability. There was some consistency within the group in responses across the two kinds of tasks. Parent reported social behaviour and experience in the autistic children was only weakly related to the ability to pass the tasks. It is argued that the results reflect developmental factors and that claims for an autism specific problem in these kinds of social/cognitive processing may need further exploration.

publication date

  • May 1990