Advancing Advanced Mind-reading Tests: Empathic Accuracy in Adults with a Pervasive Developmental Disorder
H. Roeyers, A. Buysse, K. Ponnet and B. Pichal, Journal of Child Psychology, Volume 42, No 2, pp 27- 278, 2001.
Research using advanced but static mind-reading tests with high-functioning adults with a pervasive developmental disorder (PDD) provided evidence for subtle social cognitive deficits. In the present study, adults with PDD were unimpaired on such tasks, relative to individually matched normal controls. Significant differences between the two groups were, however, found on a more naturalistic empathic accuracy task developed for this study. Participants viewed two videotaped interactions that both depicted a male and female stranger having an initial conversation and were asked to infer the unexpressed thoughts and feelings of the four targets. Subjects with PDD performed significantly worse on the second video. These findings suggest that the mind-reading deficit of a sub-group of able adults with PDD may only be apparent when a sufficiently complex naturalistic assessment method is being used.
The TOM Test: A New Instrument For Assessing Theory of Mind in Normal Children and Children with Pervasive Developmental Disorders
by Peter Muris, Pim Steerneman, Cor Meesters, Harald Merckelbach, Robert Horselenberg, Tanja van den Hogen and Lieke van Dongen. Jr. Autism and Developmental Disorders, 29, 67-80.
“This article describes a first attempt to investigate the reliability and validity of the TOM test, a new instrument for assessing theory of mind ability in normal children and children with pervasive developmental disorders.”
“Altogether, results indicate that the TOM test is a reliable and valid instrument that can be employed to measure various aspects of theory of mind.” (p. 67)
“Given the availability of reasonably successful treatment programs, theory of mind assessment instruments are important for two reasons. First, such instruments can be used to identify those children who display deficits in theory of mind. Second, such instruments can be employed to evaluate the efficacy of theory of mind training programs.”
“The TOM test comprises an interview that can be used in children between 5 and 12 years of age. The TOM test consists of vignettes, stories, and drawings about which the child has to answer a number of questions. The test lasts about 35 minutes and contains 78 items (i.e., questions).”
“Clearly, then, theory of mind consists of various aspects, such as the recognition of emotions, the assessment of how others think and the understanding of the motives underlying behavior of others.”
Delayed Language Onset as a Predictor of Clinical Symptoms in Pervasive Developmental Disorders
by Richard Eisenmajer, Margot Prior, Sue Leekham, Lorna Wing, Ben Ong, Judith Gould and Michael Welham. (1998) Jr. Autism and developmental Disorders, 28, 527-533.
“DSM-IV states that Asperger Disorder may be distinguished from Autistic Disorder by a lack of a delay in early language development. The aim of this study was to establish whether the presence or absence of early language delay would predict autistic symptomatology in children diagnosed with a PDD/autism spectrum disorder.”
“We found that early language delay predicts more autistic symptomatology when young, (less than six years) but not at an older age. Early language delay is also associated with developmental motor milestone delays and lower receptive language abilities. The results question the use of early language delay as a valid discriminating variable between PDD subgroups.” (p. 527)
“... normal language onset did not necessarily preclude later communication deviances.” “This study indicates that the variable may have more use when the children are under 6 years but little validity for older children.”
“The findings raise doubts over the use of early language delay as a differential criterion for Asperger Disorder and Autistic Disorder.” (p. 532).
Exploring the Boundaries of PDDNOS: Analysis of Data from the DSM-IV Autistic Disorder Field Trial
by Jan Buitelaar, Rutger Van der Gaag, Ami Klin and Fred Volkmar. (1999) Jr. Autism and Developmental Disorders 29, 33-43.
“This study aimed to explore the boundaries between PDD and related disorders and to develop classificatory algorithms for what is currently called Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified..”
“Only a limited number of items from the ICD-10 and DSM-IV systems for autistic disorder significantly discriminated the PDDNOS group from other disorders. A scoring rule based on a short set of 7 ICD-10/DSM-IV criteria with a cut off of 3 items and I social interaction item set as mandatory had the best balance between high sensitivity and high specificity in discriminating PDDNOS from non-PDD disorders..” (p. 33).
“ ...true PDDNOS appears to be a much more heterogeneous category than strictly defined autism ... ” (p.39)
“ ...PDDNOS appears to be basically a lesser variant of autism with impairments in social interaction as a key characteristic..”
“This indicates that the clinical diagnosis of PDDNOS probably reflects the presence of other symptoms which are as yet not included in the formal classification systems of DSM-IV and ICD-10..”(p. 41).
Asperger Syndrome: An Overview of Characteristics
B. Smith Myles and R. L. Simpson, Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, Fall 2002, Pages 132 - 137.
Although the prevalence of Asperger's Syndrome (AS) is increasing, many children and youth who exhibit characteristics associated with this disability are not diagnosed until their later years. Because early intervention appears to be critical for individuals with AS, it is important that educators, families and physicians have a comprehensive understanding of this complex exceptionality. This article, is an attempt to meet the aforementioned need, describes the characteristics of Asperger's Syndrome and the syndrome's impact in the home, school and community. Only recently has AS been showing up on the educational radar. Ever-increasing numbers of children and youth are being identified with the disorder, and teachers, administrators, counsellors, and other educational professionals are quickly discovering that children and youth with AS are extremely challenging to serve effectively. This challenge is often related to a lack of understanding of the perplexing and sometimes seemingly contradictory characteristics of AS. For example, educators often have difficulty separating verbosity from a true understanding of language. Educational placement is problematic for children and youth with AS. They spend the majority of their time in general education with professionals who do not generally have specialised training with students and with disabilities. Furthermore, their placement in general education classrooms means that they will share space and experiences with normally developing and achieving classmates, who can be expected to have limited tolerance (at least without instruction and other interventions) for peers who fail to understand and follow the oftentimes complex and frequently unstated rules of their classroom and school.