Publications (1)0 Total impact
ABSTRACT: Objective: The current literature has linked the ability to understand one’s own mental states with theory of mind, inferring another’s mental states. It is suggested that children with Asperger’s Disorder (AS) are delayed in the acquisition of social cognitive abilities (Baron-Cohen, 1989, 1991), which may relate to social behavior (Baron-Cohen, 1985, 1991). Other children with social deficits, such as those with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), demonstrate poor social functioning due to performance deficits and not deficits in underlying social cognitive abilities (see Landau & Moore, 1991). This research investigated the relationship between social cognitive abilities and social functioning and attempted to demonstrate a link between social cognitive abilities and social functioning in children with AS. Method: Children with AS and ADHD (7-12 years) were recruited from a private practice; typically developing children were recruited by participant referral and advertisements. Children completed the Mind in the Eyes Child Version and a two-subtest WASI, if needed. Parents completed the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scale –II Socialization Domain, the Social Skills Rating System (SSRS), and the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function (BRIEF) parent report. Demographic information was also collected. Results: Children with AS demonstrated poorer Mind in the Eyes performance and social functioning overall, followed by children with ADHD and typically developing children. Findings of poorer performance on the Mind of the Eyes task in children with AS compared to children with ADHD approached significance. Children with AS displayed significant deficits in areas of interpersonal relationships and play and leisure skills, but demonstrated similar coping skills as children with ADHD. Both ADHD and AS groups performed more poorly than controls on measures of social functioning. Conclusions: Results do not support a relationship between social functioning and mental state attribution. It is suggestive of an overlap in the type of social deficits experienced by children with AS and ADHD. This research adds to the research on mental state attribution for children with AS and ADHD and has implications for those conducting social skills training with children, as there may be a need to include methods for generalizing social skills related to mental state attribution.