Research in Developmental Disabilities | VOL. 130

Different mediators of applied theory-of-mind competence in children with autism spectrum disorder

Publication Date Nov 1, 2022


Children with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) with mild and moderate symptom levels have significant differences in applied theory of mind (ToM) competence. However, their mediators of applied ToM competence have not been documented. This study aimed to identify the mediators of applied ToM competence in these two clinically distinct groups. A total of 163 children with ASD aged 3-12 years old (88 and 75 children respectively in the mild and moderate groups) and their caregivers participated in this study. Data of children's verbal comprehension, explicit ToM knowledge and applied ToM competence were collected and then analyzed using mediation analysis. The results of mediation analysis showed that verbal comprehension (95% confidence interval [CI] of indirect effect: 0.02-0.19) and explicit ToM knowledge (95% CI of indirect effect: 0.01-0.07) were the mediators of applied ToM competence in children with mild and those with moderate symptoms, respectively. Our findings demonstrate that the mediators of applied ToM competence differ by symptom level in children with ASD. Applied ToM competence and the mediators should be assessed for designing tailored and effective intervention plans for these children according to their symptom level.


Theory Of Mind Theory Of Mind Competence Competence In Children Autistic Spectrum Disorder Verbal Comprehension Moderate Symptom Levels Symptom Level Explicit Knowledge Moderate Symptom Moderate Groups

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No potential conflict of interest was reported by the authors. The conception and design of the study, acquisition of data, analysis and interpretatio...

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