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Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 1996 Apr;5(1):44-51.

Neuropsychological impairments and deficits in theory of mind and emotion recognition in a non-autistic boy.

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  • 1Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Utrecht, The Netherlands.


A 9-year-old non-autistic boy revealed marked deficits in visuo-spatial and visuo-motor skills, in planning and organizational capacities and in impulse inhibition. Particular strengths were his verbal comprehension and reasoning abilities. This neuropsychological pattern of assets and deficits fitted the nonverbal learning disability syndrome as described by Rourke (1989). On a battery of Theory of Mind (TOM) and emotion recognition tests he performed rather poor on several first-order TOM tasks and on all second-order TOM and emotion-matching tasks, compared to samples of autistic and normal subjects. It is suggested that his visuo-spatial and cognitive shifting deficits account for his social cognitive failures, while his superior verbal skills protect him from severe social handicaps.

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