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Helping and cooperation in children with autism

by Kristin Liebal, Costanza Colombi, Sally J. Rogers, Felix Warneken, Michael Tomasello
Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders ()

Abstract

Helping and cooperation are central to human social life. Here, we report two studies investigating these social behaviors in children with autism and children with developmental delay. In the first study, both groups of children helped the experimenter attain her goals. In the second study, both groups of children cooperated with an adult, but fewer children with autism performed the tasks successfully. When the adult stopped interacting at a certain moment, children with autism produced fewer attempts to re-engage her, possibly indicating that they had not formed a shared goal/shared intentions with her. These results are discussed in terms of the prerequisite cognitive and motivational skills and propensities underlying social behavior.

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