Pretence, Social Cognition and Self-Knowledge in Autism

Psychopathology 44 (1):45-52. (2011)
This article suggests that an account of pretence based on the idea of shared intentionality can be of help in understanding autism. In autism, there seems to be a strong link between being able to engage in pretend play, understanding the minds of others and having adequate access to own mental states. Since one of the first behavioral manifestations of autism is the lack of pretend play, it therefore seems natural to investigate pretence in order to identify the nature of the central impairment in question. In mainstream theories, this has been identified as an impaired ‘theory of mind module’ or ‘mentalizing’ capacities. This paper points to some difficulties encountered by such accounts and – by drawing on research by Tomasello and Rakoczy – seeks to develop an alternative account of pretence and social cognition.
Keywords Autism Pretence  Theory of Mind  Social cognition  Shared intentionality
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