Virtually every interaction we have with people requires the use of ToM. We connect and relate to others who notice our feelings and comment on them, validate them, and provide us with support. Those who ignore, minimize, or criticize our feelings are usually not invited to remain in our lives. Children and teens who lack ToM have great difficulty making even one friend due to their inability to understand the feelings of others.
We also choose friends with whom we can converse and share ideas. People who disregard what we say, change the subject, and monopolize the conversation are quickly judged to lack the qualities desired for further conversation, let alone a friendship.
The Asperger’s Disorder child does not recognize when he has hurt someone’s feelings and therefore does nothing to repair it. He also fails to learn from his social errors. He lacks awareness that he even did something wrong. Even if told what he said or did that was hurtful, he cannot understand why the other person would feel upset.
Without the ability to think about what others are feeling and thinking, the Asperger’s Disorder child or teen stands little chance of being included in conversations, play, and activities with peers.
ToM allows each of us to make inferences about others so that we can explain to ourselves their behavior and make predictions about what they will do next.