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Difficulties in spontaneously performing level 2 perspective-taking skills in children with autism spectrum disorder

Hiroshi Asaoka (University of Tsukuba, Tsukuba, Japan)
Tomoya Takahashi (Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Gerontology, Tokyo, Japan)
Jiafei Chen (Graduate School of Comprehensive Human Sciences, University of Tsukuba, Tsukuba, Japan)
Aya Fujiwara (University of Tsukuba, Tsukuba, Japan)
Masataka Watanabe (Department of Education, Yokohama National University, Yokohama, Japan)
Fumiyuki Noro (Faculty of Human Sciences, University of Tsukuba, Tsukuba, Japan)

Advances in Autism

ISSN: 2056-3868

Article publication date: 30 April 2019

Issue publication date: 30 August 2019

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate why children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) tend to respond to tasks from their own perspective. The authors investigated the effects of explicitness of viewpoint on performance of spontaneous level 2 perspective-taking skills in six- to eight-year-old children with ASD.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors conducted visual perspective-taking tasks with explicit and implicit instructions about the viewpoint to be used. Participants operated a toy car on a map while listening to the experimenter’s instructions. In the implicit condition, when the experimenter said “Turn right/left” at each intersection, the participants moved the car accordingly. Subsequently, in the explicit condition, the experimenter said “Look from the driver’s viewpoint and turn right/left” at each intersection.

Findings

In the implicit condition, the authors did not observe a clear developmental change in performance between six- and eight-year-old children in the ASD group. In contrast, performance in the ASD group improved under the explicit condition relative to that under the implicit condition.

Originality/value

The results suggest six- to eight-year-old children with ASD tend not to spontaneously use level 2 perspective-taking skills. Therefore, viewpoints should be explicitly instructed to children with ASD. In addition, it is also important to implement training to encourage spontaneous transitions from self-perspective to other-perspective under the implicit condition.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors are very grateful to all the children and their parents who participated in this study. The authors would also like to thank M. Amemiya, N. Ban, K. Shiota, J. Usui, R. Fujie, Y. Manase, and M. Nagai for support in collecting data in children, and S. Nishiyama, J. Kumagai, E. Miyazaki and Y. Muto for support in recruiting participants. This study was supported by a Grant-in-Aid for Japan Society for Promotion of Science (JSPS) Fellows (No. 16J00464).

Citation

Asaoka, H., Takahashi, T., Chen, J., Fujiwara, A., Watanabe, M. and Noro, F. (2019), "Difficulties in spontaneously performing level 2 perspective-taking skills in children with autism spectrum disorder", Advances in Autism, Vol. 5 No. 4, pp. 243-254. https://doi.org/10.1108/AIA-09-2018-0028

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited