Can autistic children read the mind of an animated triangle?

Autism. 2008 Jul;12(4):349-71. doi: 10.1177/1362361308091654.


Are children with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), but normal-range intelligence, impaired on theory of mind skills measured by responses to abstract animations in the form of a computerized cartoon? Fifty-six cases and closely matched comparisons were tested. We rated verbal responses according to the length of their descriptions, their appropriateness and the children's use of 'mentalizing' terms. Children with ASD used 'mentalizing' language to describe the animations as well as comparisons, although the content of their descriptions was significantly less appropriate. Performance on this task was not well correlated with standardized measures of parent-reported behaviour or the child's interactions with an observer. The implications of our results are discussed in relation to previous studies that have used this methodology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Algorithms
  • Autistic Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Social Perception*
  • Wechsler Scales