Theory of Mind is the ability to make attributions. Attributions are the thoughts we create about others in order to explain what happens in our interactions with and observations of them. No one actually teaches us to make attributions; we just do it automatically. For the most part, we can make good guesses at someone’s intentions.
From these inferences, we determine how to react to them. Asperger’s Disorder children, however, do not know how to make attributions. This is because they are deficient in Theory of Mind (ToM).
The concept of Theory of Mind has also been labeled as mind blindness, mentalizing, and mind reading. Each of these terms defines the ability to infer what others are thinking, feeling, believing, and desiring, and what their intentions and motivations are. Using ToM, we can make sense of what people say and do and predict what they will do next. In essence, we can stand inside someone else’s shoes. Using ToM gives us an understanding of others that allows us to guide our behavior and interactions with them.
Children and teens with Asperger’s Disorder are deficient in ToM. They do not comprehend that others have thoughts and feelings that are different from their own. They cannot stand in someone else’s shoes.