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Child Dev. 2012 Mar-Apr;83(2):469-85. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2011.01728.x. Epub 2012 Feb 3.

The mind behind the message: advancing theory-of-mind scales for typically developing children, and those with deafness, autism, or Asperger syndrome.

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  • 1The School of Psychology, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland 4072, Australia.


Children aged 3-12 years (n = 184) with typical development, deafness, autism, or Asperger syndrome took a series of theory-of-mind (ToM) tasks to confirm and extend previous developmental scaling evidence. A new sarcasm task, in the format of H. M. Wellman and D. Liu's (2004) 5-step ToM Scale, added a statistically reliable 6th step to the scale for all diagnostic groups. A key previous finding, divergence in task sequencing for children with autism, was confirmed. Comparisons among diagnostic groups, controlling age, and language ability, showed that typical developers mastered the 6 ToM steps ahead of each of the 3 disabled groups, with implications for ToM theories. The final (sarcasm) task challenged even nondisabled 9-year-olds, demonstrating the new scale's sensitivity to post-preschool ToM growth.

© 2012 The Authors. Child Development © 2012 Society for Research in Child Development, Inc.

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