Do autistic children have a theory of intelligence?


Autism is one of the most common developmental disorders in today's world.

Although the cause of autism has not been fully proven, it is thought to be due to physiological

rather than psychological reasons. Contrary to popular belief, this disorder is a problem of not being able to understand and adapt to the social environment, independent of the IQ

problem. Individuals with autism lack the ability to develop social communication. The isolated and detached behavior of autistic children from the social environment has led to the need to question whether they can have a theory of intelligence.

Intelligence theory; > It is the ability to know that other people are aware of something, know it, want it, or believe it. The validity of this theory on autistic children was tested with the Sally and Anne experiment mentioned in the article. In addition to normal and autistic individuals, children with Down syndrome were also included in this experiment to evaluate the effect of intelligence


Because although most autistic children have mental retardation or some autistic symptoms, this intelligence

Although it is associated with mental retardation, this mental retardation alone is not sufficient to explain social disorder

. As a result of the experiment, striking results emerged; Children with mental retardation

together with normal children gave the correct answer to the question that they were thought to be unable to answer (belief question), while autistic children gave the wrong answer to this question and gave the correct answer

They have lost their right to completion from the beginning. On the other hand, it is not enough to try to reconcile and explain the theory of autism and intelligence with a single experiment. Moreover, the background of the experiment was omitted in this experiment. For example, it is not said whether Sally and Anne had previously talked about the possible locations of the marble

. However, the experiment showed that autistic children were deprived of the theory of intelligence due to their inability to reason about the event in the experiment


It has shown, albeit insufficiently.

3-) On the other hand, there are other studies on autistic children

in the context of this theory. In many studies examining the theory of mind, false beliefs have been found in the theory of intelligence of autistic children. Their performance on three tasks appeared to be related to formal assessments of language.

Although general language (receptive vocabulary and sentence structure) was found to be related to performance on theory of intelligence operations

, regression analysis results showed that complex sentences

It has been found that performance related to structure is the only variable that predicts observed performance in intelligence theory operations. Moreover, research has found a relationship between theory of intelligence and vocabulary

. In the study conducted by Happe in 1995, unlike other groups

, there is a strong relationship between language and theory of mind in autism. He argued that if the theory of intelligence in autism has any success, it can only be attributed to language. In other words, while other

children use their non-linguistic cognitive mechanisms, children with autism may use their verbal skills to produce solutions to false

belief operations. In an experiment conducted by Tager-Flusberg and

Sullivan in 1994, they found that receptive vocabulary

repertoire was associated with false belief performance in children with autism

while syntax was also associated with false belief performance. They stated that it has a strong relationship with belief performance. The researchers, who conducted two

studies, examined the subjects with normal development at the age of 3-4 in their first study, those with autism at the ages of 6-22, and those with mental retardation at the age of 7-20 in their second study

They examined the performance of normally developing individuals between the ages of 7 and 20 in explaining false beliefs and actions of the character. Research results show that the performance of children with autism in explaining false beliefs and

character's actions is related to their vocabulary scores and

syntax subtest scores of the language test. Tager-Flusberg and Anderson

(1991) compared the conversational skills of children with autistic disorder and Down syndrome

matched according to age and language. Language samples were taken from each child four times within a year. Children with autistic disorder were developmentally worse in conversational skills than children with Down syndrome at the first evaluation. While they do not show differences, as language develops

children with autistic disorder differ more from children with down syndrome

in terms of content and communication styles.

As a result, the research conducted and the results obtained In the light of the findings, it shows that the intelligence theories of autistic children can be brought to a noticeable level after a certain training

. This acquisition can be achieved by restructuring or

improving language skills. Accordingly, the effect of language on development cannot be denied.

Since it is known that autism is observed within the first two years of birth, these individuals

do not have any theory of mind until the age of two compared to normally developed children

unthinkable. However, in the light of the assistance and training that will be given to them in the field of language development over time, it can be thought that they will also be able to acquire theory of mind over time

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