Theory Of Mind, Is A Learning Approach Needed?

1370 words - 5 pages

Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are commonly associated with a lack of a concept of Theory of Mind (ToM). Wellman (et al, 2001) defined the phrase, theory of mind, which emphasizes that everyday psychology involves seeing oneself and others in terms of mental states—the desires, emotions, beliefs, intentions, and other inner experiences that result in and are manifested in human action. Of the four listed references for this report, three of the studies primarily concentrated on the theory of mind development in children that were not designated with a disability, while another dealt directly with children with known learning disabilities, to include autism spectrum disorder. I compared the results and discussions, and have a hypothesis to present. I hypothesize that what defines theory of mind is innate in all children, but many lack the ability to either interpret or express the concept. Perner (et al, 1994) presents a powerful finding that needs to be considered in preparing ASD children for ToM, that siblings help develop a theory of mind is compatible with the sociocognitive tradition that emphasizes intellectual progress as a function of social interaction among peers and view intellectual growth as a process of internalizing the knowledge already incorporated in the social interaction. The comparative results show very different types of outcomes concerning ToM testing and factors that impact directly and there seems to be some indirect impacts that need to be further investigated. Normal developing children also have problems with ToM testing, yet their advantage is paramount due to their larger understanding of language as indicated in the referenced studies for this experiment.

Materials available to conduct the experiment were a table and chair made for young children to allow my son to observe the test, 2 large non-opaque plastic cups, one red and the other blue, and a palm-sized orange ball. The testing was conducted in much of the same context as Baron-Cohen (et al, 1985) with the following modifications. Modifications were derived from study remarks by Jenkins (et al, 1996) to compensate for the relationship between language ability and false belief understanding. One possibility is that standard methods of measuring children's understanding of false belief rely heavily on children's linguistic abilities. In the standard tasks children have to listen to a story or to the experimenter's talk about some task materials, comprehend this input, process the experimenter's questions about it, and make some response. Children may understand false belief but, because of the linguistic complexity of the tasks, be unable to demonstrate their understanding in this context. From this point of view, the children's linguistic immaturity results in task performance that masks their underlying competence.
We used real persons for the test, where my son was one character, and Mom was another. Keeping an old adage in...

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