Contribution of Theory of Mind, Executive Functioning, and Pragmatics to Socialization Behaviors of Children with High-Functioning Autism
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Social difficulties are a key aspect of autism, but the intervening factors are still poorly understood. This study had two objectives: to compare the profile of ToM skills, executive functioning (EF), and pragmatic competence (PC) of children with high-functioning autism (HFA) and children with typical development (TD), and analyze their mediator role in social functioning. The participants were 52 children with HFA and 37 children with TD matched on age, intelligence quotient, and expressive vocabulary. Significant differences were found on measures of ToM, both explicit and applied, EF, and PC between children with HFA and TD. Multiple mediation analysis revealed that applied ToM skills and PC mediated the relations between autism symptoms and social functioning. Implications for social cognitive interventions to address these findings are discussed.
KeywordsHigh functioning autism Theory of mind Pragmatic competence Executive functioning Social domain
This work is supported by the Spanish project PSI2016-78109 (AEI/FEDER, UE) and the predoctoral fellowship University of Valencia UV-INV-PREDOC15-265889.
CB conceived the study, participated in its design, and coordination, interpretation of results and drafted the manuscript; AM conceived the study, participated in the design, coordination of the study, interpretation of the data and manuscript revisions; CC participated in the design and coordination of the study, and data collection; IB participated in the coordination of the study and data collection; BR participated in data analysis and interpretation of results. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of interest
Authors declare no conflict of interest.
The study was approved by the Ethics Committee of the University of Valencia (Declaration of Helsinki in the European Council Agreement, 1964).
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