Thirty-six children with autism, 24 children with learning difficulties (matched with the autistic group for sentence comprehension), and 41 normally-developing preschoolers were given two simple tasks: a hand-game requiring inhibitory control, and a delayed-reward situation tapping metacognitive awareness of strategies for coping with the delay period. For both clinical groups, performance on the two tasks was correlated, even when the effect of comprehension level was partialled out. However, no such correlation was observed for the preschoolers, once age was taken into account. The results are discussed in terms of potential links between executive-function and mental-state awareness.
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