Adaptive behaviour and theory of mind in autism

Eric Fombonne, Fran Siddons, Sophie Achard, Uta Frith, Francesca Happé

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


The Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales are used to assess the real life competence of adolescents and adults with autism in France. Real life adaptation is compared with performance on social cognitive tasks, involving the attribution of mental states, and with subjects' age and ability. New scales are used to contrast real life behaviours which appear to require the ability to attribute mental states with those behaviours which are possible without this ability. Subjects with autism who passed social cognitive tasks showed higher intellectual ability, as well as being older. In addition, they were better than subjects who failed tasks in terms of those social and maladaptive behaviours involving understanding minds. However, when their verbal ability was taken into account, these specific differences were no longer significant. These results are discussed in relation to a parallel study carried out in England, where essentially the same results were obtained. Both studies suggest that the stereotype of the aloof, socially indifferent autistic child does not reflect the sociability of adolescents and young adults with autism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)176-186
Number of pages11
JournalEuropean Child & Adolescent Psychiatry
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1994
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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