Over 40 years of research in psychology has demonstrated the importance of “theory of mind” (ToM) in child development. Because this term has become well established we retain it in this book, though as our title suggests, we also use the more transparent term “mindreading.” This is not an ideal term since it carries with it some paranormal connotations of telepathy! Mindreading or ToM is in fact quite ordinary, referring to the everyday skill we all engage in, of imagining what another person might be thinking or feeling.
When a typical child engages in mindreading, other people's behavior becomes easy to make sense of. When a child with autism has difficulties in imagining another person's thoughts and feelings, other people's behavior becomes confusing, hard to predict, and can even be a source of anxiety. Our aim in this book has been to present practical materials for teachers, therapists, and parents to encourage children with autism to imagine another person's thoughts and feelings, by making another person's mind visible through the comic convention of “thought-bubbles.”
Psychological studies have typically focused on the significance of ToM or mindreading in the first few years of life. More recent research has shown that ToM becomes fined-tuned across childhood and into adulthood, and that more advanced ToM skills at all ages are associated with indicators of social competence.
A large body of research has consistently found that individuals with autism spectrum ...