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02-01-2024 | Research

Assessing Theory of Mind in Children: A Tablet-Based Adaptation of a Classic Picture Sequencing Task

Auteurs: Nicolas Petit, Ira Noveck, Matias Baltazar, Jérôme Prado

Gepubliceerd in: Child Psychiatry & Human Development

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Abstract

Correctly assessing children’s theory of mind (TOM) is essential to clinical practice. Yet, most tasks heavily rely on language, which is an obstacle for several populations. Langdon and Coltheart’s (Cognition 71(1):43–71, 1999) Picture Sequencing Task (PST), developed for research purposes, avoids this limitation through a minimally-verbal procedure. We thus developed a tablet adaptation of this task for individual application, engaging children’s motivation and allowing response times collection. To assess this tablet-PST, we first tested a large sample of neurotypical children (6–11 years-old, N = 248), whose results confirmed the task’s structural and content validity, and permitted the construction of three standardized clinical indices. In a second experiment, we applied those to previously diagnosed autistic children (N = 23), who were expected to show atypical TOM performance. Children’s outcomes were consistent with what was hypothesized and confirmed the task’s external validity and moderate clinical sensitivity. The tablet-PST thus appears as a suitable tool, providing detailed profiles to inform clinical decisions.
Bijlagen
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Voetnoten
1
Following Botha et al. ([67]), we use identity-first language to refer to autistic individuals, which is considered less offending and stigmatizing than person-first language (“person with autism”) by the autistic community (e.g., [68]). Note, too, that the adjective “autistic” refers here to the whole autistic spectrum.
 
2
Interestingly, response times measures were included in Langdon & Coltheart’s ([34]) original study but were later abandoned, after failing to reveal group difference between high vs. low schizotypal healthy adults. Given that response times have been shown to reveal meaningful effects in autism, we decided to include them on the tablet-PST.
 
3
To make sure that grouping together the two control conditions did not hide important effects, we also ran the analyses contrasting TOM, mechanical and social scripts, and report the results in supplementary materials.
 
4
In line with Experiment 1, perfect responses (score = 6) were not distributed equally across item types: they represented 39% of responses to TOM items and 70% of the responses to non-TOM items.
 
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Metagegevens
Titel
Assessing Theory of Mind in Children: A Tablet-Based Adaptation of a Classic Picture Sequencing Task
Auteurs
Nicolas Petit
Ira Noveck
Matias Baltazar
Jérôme Prado
Publicatiedatum
02-01-2024
Uitgeverij
Springer US
Gepubliceerd in
Child Psychiatry & Human Development
Print ISSN: 0009-398X
Elektronisch ISSN: 1573-3327
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/s10578-023-01648-0