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Theory of mind interventions can be effective in treating autism, although long-term success remains unproven
  1. Sander Begeer
  1. Developmental Psychology, VU University Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands;
  1. Correspondence to Dr Sander Begèer, Developmental Psychology, VU University Amsterdam, Room 3E-18, Van der Boechorststraat 1, Amsterdam 1081 BT, The Netherlands; s.begeer{at}

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What is already known on this topic?

Limited theory of mind (ToM) skills are a key problem for individuals with autism.1 Interventions targeting ToM abilities are highly prevalent among treatments for autism.2 However, there is no consensus on the efficacy of these treatments, and a wide variety of outcome measures are used.2

What does this paper add?

  • This is the first systematic review of interventions for ToM skills in individuals with autism.

  • The inclusion of interventions on ToM, but also on related domains (eg, emotion recognition) or precursors of ToM (eg, joint attention), and the focus on a wide range of outcome measures provides relevant information for clinical practice.

  • These is some evidence that ToM can be taught to individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), but little evidence on maintenance and generalisation of ToM skills, or the effects of these skills to other domains of functioning.


  • The widely varied outcome measures used in the included papers complicate the comparative analysis of different studies.

  • Blinding participants and personnel …

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  • Competing interests None.

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