Mental health professionals believe that to some degree, children and teens with Asperger’s Disorder can be taught ToM. Through training in emotions, social skills, and “mind reading,” Asperger’s Disorder children can gain some ability to understand what others are thinking and feeling and use this to guide their words and behavior.
While ToM comes naturally to other children, the Asperger’s Disorder child must be educated as to what ToM is and why it is important to use it. The Asperger’s Disorder child actually has to run through a checklist of questions:
1. What is this other person thinking?
2. Why is he doing what he is doing?
3. How is he feeling right now?
4. What is he going to do and say next?
5. How should I respond?
Processing all this takes time for the Asperger’s Disorder child.
When Asperger’s Disorder children receive training in ToM, they are found to make fewer social errors. However, the manner in which they use ToM skills is observed to be slow and robotic. It is as if they learn the steps to the dance but have no rhythm.