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Action-monitoring and Intention Reporting in Children with Autism

By J. Russell and Elisabeth L. Hill


The “mindblindness” theory of core cognitive impairment in autism and at least one of the executive theories of the core cognitive deficit both predict that children with autism should find it difficult to report what their intention was when it diverged from an outcome. The former predicts this because it takes intention reporting to require a “theory of mind” and the latter predicts it because the theory posits an impairment in the monitoring of goal-directed actions. The latter also predicts impairments in the ability to monitor basic actions. Our three studies failed to support either of these views. Experiment 1 demonstrated intact abilities in the monitoring of basic actions (detecting which stimulus of a number of stimuli one is controlling). Experiment 2 demonstrated intact abilities in reporting an intention, both for self and for another agent, when the outcome was unintended but desired. In Experiment 3, using the novel “transparent intentions task”, we found (with a minor qualification) intact ability in reporting on nonballistic intended actions when the result that the action achieved was unexpected. The implications of these results for views of the relation between theory of mind and executive difficulties in autism are discussed

Topics: C850, C840, C800, C820
Year: 2001
OAI identifier:

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