Scaling of Early Social Cognitive Skills in Typically Developing Infants and Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Katherine Ellis, Phillipa Lewington, Powis Laurie, Chris Oliver, Jane Waite, Mary Heald, Ian Apperly, Priya Sandhu, Hayley Crawford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We delineate the sequence that typically developing infants pass tasks that assess different early social cognitive skills considered precursors to theory-of-mind abilities. We compared this normative sequence to performance on these tasks in a group of autistic (AUT) children. 86 infants were administered seven tasks assessing intention reading and shared intentionality (Study 1). Infants responses followed a consistent developmental sequence, forming a four-stage scale. These tasks were administered to 21 AUT children (Study 2), who passed tasks in the same sequence. However, performance on tasks that required following others’ eye gaze and cooperating with others was delayed. Findings indicate that earlier-developing skills provide a foundation for later-developing skills, and difficulties in acquiring some early social cognitive skills in AUT children.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3988-4000
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Issue number11
Early online date18 Mar 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2020

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  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Precursors
  • Social cognition
  • Theory of mind


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