|photo credit: Olaf_S via photopin cc|
Two children are in a room with an adult. The adult puts a teddy bear in a red box. Child 1 leaves the room. Child 2 watches the adult move the teddy bear from the red box to a green box. Where will Child 1 think the teddy bear is?
A young child (usually 0-3 yrs old) will say that Child 1 will think that the bear is in the green box because they know that's where it is. A child who has developed theory of mind will know that Child 1 will still think that the bear is in the red box because Child 1 did not see the adult move the bear.
Children with autism, oftentimes have a very difficult time with Theory of Mind. This is one of the reasons that participating in pretend play, and talking about emotions and feelings is important for children. However, developmentally, a child needs to be ready to participate in pretend play...trying to get a child to participate in pretend when they are not at that functional developmental level yet, will not be beneficial.
Here is an article that I enjoyed about Theory of Mind.
Utah P.L.A.Y. Project Home Consultant
Early Intervention Treatment for Children With Autism