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J Autism Dev Disord. 2014 Jul;44(7):1749-58. doi: 10.1007/s10803-014-2048-3.

Empathy and empathy induced prosocial behavior in 6- and 7-year-olds with autism spectrum disorder.

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Department of Psychiatry, Brain Center Rudolf Magnus, University Medical Center Utrecht, HP A01.468, Postbus 85500, 3508 GA, Utrecht, The Netherlands,


The present study aimed to assess empathy and prosocial behavior in 6-7 year old children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). Results showed, first, lower levels of parent- and teacher-rated cognitive empathy, and similar levels of affective empathy in children with ASD compared to typically developing (TD) children. Second, emotion recognition for basic emotions, one aspect of cognitive empathy, in a story task was adequate in ASD children, but ASD children with severe impairments in social responsiveness had difficulties in recognizing fear. Third, prosocial behavior in response to signals of distress of a peer in a computer task was similar in ASD as in TD children. In conclusion, early elementary school children with ASD show specific impairments in cognitive empathy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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