People, in general, have the ability to attribute emotions, intentions, desires, thoughts or states of knowledge to other people automatically. Furthermore, we are aware that our thinking they are different from others. We use this information to interpret what they say, think and anticipate their actions and make sense of their behaviour. This ability leads to the internal representation of the mental states of others.
How do we master this skill? By putting ourselves in the place of other people we can understand what they do or say and understand what leads them to carry out certain actions, but what happens when we are not able to put ourselves in the place of the other? We explain the empathy in children with autism.
People with autism have difficulty putting themselves in the place of the other and do not develop this ability automatically. They fail to differentiate what is inside their mind and what is in the minds of others. What happens when we are unable to put ourselves in the place of the other? Well, their behaviors are unexpected and unpredictable, they don't make sense and they are very difficult to understand. We do not know what to expect from interactions with others or from their intentions. Everything is inexplicable and unpredictable.
This deficit of people with autism explains many of the difficulties they have in the social area:
1- Understand the emotions of others and therefore have practically no empathic reactions.
2- Realize the intentions of others and understand the reasons that guide them.
3- Understand how their reactions or comments will affect others. They will also have specific difficulties in predicting what others will think of their behaviors. If we have the ability to put ourselves in the shoes of others, we will know that there are certain things or comments that we cannot say directly because they could upset others, or we are aware that we have said something inappropriate because we can 'read' the emotional responses of others. subjects of our environment, among other things.
4- Understand deception, irony or sarcasm.
5- Understand the degree of interest that your interlocutor has on your topic of conversation.
6- Understand the rules of conversation such as speaking turns or following the topic that is raised in the interaction.
Children in order to use the Theory of Mind have to develop two aspects:
- The child must understand that people govern their behavior through beliefs and desires. You have to understand that beliefs do not have to be true and wishes are often not fulfilled.
- The child has to understand that behaviors are governed by subjective evaluations of reality. That way you will understand that what you believe is sometimes false and you can reason from it.
From 4-5 years, children reach an ability to put yourself in the shoes of others but this does not mean that it is passive competition. This ability influences the development of other skills such as empathy.
When a child begins to understand the beliefs and desires of others, it is when he can put himself in an appropriate way in the shoes of another.
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