One of the most difficult things “neurotypical” (a term used by some adults with AS to describe people without AS) educators to understand is the effect of deficits in theory of mind and perspective-taking on the behavior of students with AS. The term “theory of mind” (ToM) was original used in relation to the psychological development of young children. It is described as a naturally developing ability to discern the thoughts, feelings, ideas, and intentions of others. The primary importance of “theory of mind” is that this ability allows one to predict the behavior of others.
Simon Baron-Cohen used this same term, “theory of mind,” to describe the cognitive process which, if impaired, most likely accounts for the constellation of characteristics present in children with AS and other autism spectrum disorders. He described these students as having a kind of “mindblindness”: an inability to understand that other people have thoughts, feelings, and beliefs that are different from their own. Research has found that lacking ToM is specific to individuals with autism spectrum disorder. This lack of ToM makes it very difficult for students with AS to understand and predict the behavior of other people and to understand the social context that guides others on a daily basis.