2. Reduced Theory of Mind
As we develop, it is normal to begin acquiring a ‘theory of mind’. This means that a child will begin to create internal mental models to predict and understand the behaviors of others based on their interactions.
So for instance, we generally can grasp what another person sees once we have developed past a certain age, simply by observing the direction of their gaze in relation to the world around them (and any items that might obscure their view).
In autism this ability develops later and may never be fully formed. Thus, psychologists will often attempt to diagnose the condition by using tests such as the ‘Sally Anne’ test. These involve hypothetical scenarios that ask children to predict what characters will do next, based on the information they have available.
While many autistic individuals will develop working models of human behavior or coping strategies, they may never gain the intuitive grasp that others do regarding the thoughts and feelings of others.