Sibling Effects on Theory of Mind in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders
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Children, as well as older individuals, with autism spectrum disorders have classically been found to underperform at tests of theory of mind. Some researchers believe that social deficits in individuals with autism spectrum disorders are due to impaired theory of mind. This theory is known as the mindblindness theory. Research in typically developing children has found that having a sibling environment is related to improvements in theory of mind. Interactions in complex sibling environments provide opportunities, such as conflict and play, to exercise skills that can further theory of mind development. Sibling relationships could cause a similar effect in autistic children, or they could result in a different effect altogether. However, few studies have been conducted on this specific topic, and the only ones that have been done have produced contradictory findings. Further research will be needed in order to resolve these mixed findings, but for now, they remain as they are.