Paola Perucchini, Filippo Muratori, Barbara Parrini

Teoria della Mente, gesto di indicare dichiarativo e autismo

  • Abstract

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It has been suggested that the child's capacity to represent and influence another person's attentional state about an object or event (declarative communication) is an early manifestation of theory of mind in the second year of life. Children with autism show a specific deficit in communication: they do not use gestures for declarative purposes, whereas imperative gestures are relatively preserved in their repertoire. This study aims to investigate longitudinally the comprehension/production of imperative and declarative pointing and the parallel changes in the cognitive skills and symptoms severity in early autism. Ten children with autism, in the preschool age, were tested for production and comprehension of imperative and declarative pointing in five sessions at about 4-months intervals. Concurrently children were evaluated for cognitive abilities and symptoms severity. Results show that only two children exhibited declarative pointing whereas seven out of ten children exhibited imperative pointing. All of them understand imperative and/or declarative pointing. Declarative pointing emerged later than imperative pointing and was link to a low level of symptoms severity.

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