Self representation in children with and without Autism Spectrum Disorders

Child Psychiatry Hum Dev. 2012 Apr;43(2):227-37. doi: 10.1007/s10578-011-0261-2.


In order to examine the roles of mental age, social interaction, and communication in self-representation abilities, typically-developing children were compared with children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Typically-developing children (TD, n = 66) and children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD, n = 20), including subgroups of autistic disorder and pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified, were assessed on self-representation ability, which was measured by mirror recognition, other-directed pretend play, and use of personal pronouns. More TD children (100%) showed mirror recognition than ASD children (55%). TD children were more likely to show other-directed pretense (80%) than the ASD group (35%). Personal pronouns were used more by TD children (83%) than by ASD children (63%). Self-representation ability appears to be underdeveloped in some children with ASD. Self-representation ability in children with ASD was related to the Social Interaction subscale of the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule such that greater self representation ability was associated with better Social Interaction scores, although it was not related to the Communication scores of the ADOS-G. The mental age of the children with ASD was at least 2 years; therefore, the deficits in self representation in children with ASD cannot be explained by mental age alone.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child Development
  • Child Development Disorders, Pervasive / diagnosis
  • Child Development Disorders, Pervasive / psychology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Intelligence
  • Male
  • Play and Playthings
  • Recognition, Psychology*
  • Self Concept*
  • Social Behavior*
  • Social Perception*