What is “theory of mind?”

You will often hear professionals refer to the term “theory of mind.” Some think of this as being one of the core deficits for individuals with autism. 

Theory of mind is the ability for one person to understand that another person has different thoughts, feelings, and agendas.  For example, I know that I like to eat mayonnaise on crackers.  Even though I love this snack, I also know that not everybody likes this snack.  I understand through theory of mind that just because I like something does not mean that everybody else likes it too!  If I had a party with my friends over, I would make sure that I had more snacks available than just crackers and mayonnaise.

For an individual with autism, they can have a very difficult time with this.  For example, you might have a teenager who loves to talk about computers.  He wants to talk about computers with everybody all the time.  Because of his poor theory of mind, he thinks that because he likes computers that everybody should like computers and want to hear him talk about computers.

As you can imagine because of this challenge with theory of mind, individuals with autism can have difficulty making and maintainting social relationships. Visual supports are available to help teach individuals with autism how to have better theory of mind. 

Entry Filed under: Common Symptoms,Signs of Autism,social skills

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