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      Difficulties in spontaneously performing level 2 perspective-taking skills in children with autism spectrum disorder

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          The purpose of this paper is to investigate why children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) tend to respond to tasks from their own perspective. The authors investigated the effects of explicitness of viewpoint on performance of spontaneous level 2 perspective-taking skills in six- to eight-year-old children with ASD.


          The authors conducted visual perspective-taking tasks with explicit and implicit instructions about the viewpoint to be used. Participants operated a toy car on a map while listening to the experimenter’s instructions. In the implicit condition, when the experimenter said “Turn right/left” at each intersection, the participants moved the car accordingly. Subsequently, in the explicit condition, the experimenter said “Look from the driver’s viewpoint and turn right/left” at each intersection.


          In the implicit condition, the authors did not observe a clear developmental change in performance between six- and eight-year-old children in the ASD group. In contrast, performance in the ASD group improved under the explicit condition relative to that under the implicit condition.


          The results suggest six- to eight-year-old children with ASD tend not to spontaneously use level 2 perspective-taking skills. Therefore, viewpoints should be explicitly instructed to children with ASD. In addition, it is also important to implement training to encourage spontaneous transitions from self-perspective to other-perspective under the implicit condition.

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          Most cited references 21

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          The embodied nature of spatial perspective taking: embodied transformation versus sensorimotor interference.

          Humans are able to mentally adopt the spatial perspective of others and understand the world from their point of view. We propose that spatial perspective taking (SPT) could have developed from the physical alignment of perspectives. This would support the notion that others have put forward claiming that SPT is an embodied cognitive process. We investigated this issue by contrasting several accounts in terms of the assumed processes and the nature of the embodiment. In a series of four experiments we found substantial evidence that the transformations during SPT comprise large parts of the body schema, which we did not observe for object rotation. We further conclude that the embodiment of SPT is best conceptualised as the self-initiated emulation of a body movement, supporting the notion of endogenous motoric embodiment. Overall our results are much more in agreement with an 'embodied' transformation account than with the notion of sensorimotor interference. Finally we discuss our findings in terms of SPT as a possible evolutionary stepping stone towards more complex alignments of socio-cognitive perspectives.
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            Visual perspective taking impairment in children with autistic spectrum disorder.

            Evidence from typical development and neuroimaging studies suggests that level 2 visual perspective taking - the knowledge that different people may see the same thing differently at the same time - is a mentalising task. Thus, we would expect children with autism, who fail typical mentalising tasks like false belief, to perform poorly on level 2 visual perspective taking as well. However, prior data on this issue are inconclusive. We re-examined this question, testing a group of 23 young autistic children, aged around 8years with a verbal mental age of around 4years and three groups of typical children (n=60) ranging in age from 4 to 8years on a level 2 visual perspective task and a closely matched mental rotation task. The results demonstrate that autistic children have difficulty with visual perspective taking compared to a task requiring mental rotation, relative to typical children. Furthermore, performance on the level 2 visual perspective taking task correlated with theory of mind performance. These findings resolve discrepancies in previous studies of visual perspective taking in autism, and demonstrate that level 2 visual perspective taking is a mentalising task.
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              Now I see it but you don't: 14-month-olds can represent another person's visual perspective.

              Twelve- and 14-month-old infants' ability to represent another person's visual perspective (Level-1 visual perspective taking) was studied in a looking-time paradigm. Fourteen-month-olds looked longer at a person reaching for and grasping a new object when the old goal-object was visible than when it was invisible to the person (but visible to the infant). These findings are consistent with the interpretation that infants 'rationalized' the person's reach for a new object when the old goal-object was out of sight. Twelve-month-olds did not distinguish between test conditions. The present findings are consistent with recent research on infants' developing understanding of seeing.

                Author and article information

                Advances in Autism
                Emerald Publishing
                26 September 2019
                : 5
                : 4
                : 243-254
                University of Tsukuba , Tsukuba, Japan
                Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Gerontology, Tokyo, Japan
                Graduate School of Comprehensive Human Sciences, University of Tsukuba , Tsukuba, Japan
                Department of Education, Yokohama National University , Yokohama, Japan
                Faculty of Human Sciences, University of Tsukuba , Tsukuba, Japan
                Author notes
                Hiroshi Asaoka can be contacted at:
                625159 AIA-09-2018-0028.pdf AIA-09-2018-0028
                © Emerald Publishing Limited
                Page count
                Figures: 1, Tables: 4, Equations: 0, References: 29, Pages: 12, Words: 4825
                research-article, Research paper
                cat-HSC, Health & social care
                Custom metadata


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