Because they lack insight into mental states, children with autism spectrum disorder may use sentence complements with communication verbs to bootstrap an understanding of similar structures with mental state verbs. This hypothesis is consistent with de Villiers and Pyers’s (2002) finding that in children with typical development, understanding of sentence complement structures with communication verbs was a better predictor of false belief performance than sentence complements with mental verbs. Children with autism spectrum disorder, however, may rely more heavily on communication verbs.
This is going to be a garbled mess of confusion, so bear with me…or skip it, it’s up to you. It seems to me that what this quote is saying is that children with autism lack insight into mental stages (obviously, since that is stated), and because of this lack of insight, they depend on communication verbs to help them with mental state verbs. Here, however, is where I struggle, neurotypical children also have that. When neurotypical children are taught communication verbs, they do better on the theory of mind tests. Okay, so that wasn’t where I struggle, it’s actually this next part. So, children with autism lack insight into mental stages and verbs, so they help themselves by using communication verbs instead. Neurotypical children also benefit from this strategy, but apparently children with autism may rely more heavily on communication verbs. I do not see the connection.
To put it another way (more narrative): there are two kids; one is autistic, the other is neurotypical. One of the kids doesn’t have insight into mental states, so he decides that he is going to look at them as the same thing as communication verbs like talk, say, etc. The other kid has had training in the same thing, he has been taught about communication verbs, which he applies to mental verbs. However, the kid with autism, who is using the same strategy is relying more heavily on communication verbs.
I just don’t get it. Not only that, but it presupposes a huge assumption: that autistic kids lack insight into mental states. How do we know that?
Well, I’ll try and explain: Children with autism lack insight into mental states because they don’t have theory of mind. They don’t have theory of mind because they lack insight into mental states. They lack insight into mental states because they don’t have theory of mind. ad infinitum.
It’s circular logic from what I can tell. Is that why I am struggling with this? It could be. I don’t know. Maybe I am the one with the logical flaw. But the big assumption still remains that: children with autism lack insight into mental states.
Miller, Carol. “Developmental Relationships between Language and Theory of Mind.” American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology 15.2 (May 2006): 142-154. Ebsco. Web. 26 March 2015.