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Practical Theory of Mind Games
Ages: 4-12   Grades: PreK-7

Dramatically improve your students' ability to infer and predict behavior, take another person's perspective, and understand his intentions in step-by-step lessons.


  • Discern what others know, expect, and believe
  • Make inferences in social situations and in texts
  • Identify what the student knows, expects, and believes
  • Understand the rationale of social behaviors
Book on CD
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*The CD contains the complete book.  All pages are printable.
** This is a Cloud E-Book that is accessible from any device with Internet access. .

Theory of Mind (ToM) impairment has been identified as a core, cognitive feature of autism.  That is, children with autism report exactly what they see and know but miss what someone else might think, know, or believe (Baron-Cohen et al., 1985).

Childhood is flush with stories and games that develop ToM.  Practical Theory of Mind Games weave these stories and games into every lesson.  The lessons are organized in a developmentally progressive order to teach understanding of informational and emotional states.  With your expertise, students with social language/autism disorders will develop ToM skills alongside their peers.

The Therapy Manual is divided into three sections:

  • Section 1
    • information about Theory of Mind (ToM)
    • its importance in social development
    • how to test for ToM deficiencies 
    • examples of therapy goals
    • resource list of books, internet resources, and short stories
  • Section 2
    • Understanding Informational States: teaches students to understand seeing and hearing leads to knowing about things for themselves and others.  They learn that this knowledge can differ from person to person.
  • Section 3 
    • Understanding Emotional States: teaches students that emotional states in themselves and others differ.  This understanding helps students form friendships and relationships.

Ultimately, students are better able to not only imitate appropriate social behaviors but understand why they need to use them.

Help your students with autism develop their social intelligence and improve their social understanding and behaviors with Theory of Mind Games.


Copyright © 2013

188-page book plus a CD of 194 reproducible pages in both black & white and color
  • Theory of Mind (ToM) is the ability to understand one's own and others' minds.  It appears spontaneously in childhood (Perner, 1991).  By age 4, most children can pass a test of false belief – that is, they understand that someone else can believe something that the child himself knows to be untrue (Wimmer & Perner, 1983).
  • Children with autism have particular difficulties in reasoning about mental states, and it has been proposed that this deficit underlies many of the developmental abnormalities that are characteristic of the disorder (Baron-Cohen, Tager-Flusberg, & Cohen, 1993).
  • Typically-developing children develop mental state understanding which follows a developmental sequence (Wellman, 1990).  Practical Theory of Mind Games follows this developmental sequence and introduces the child with autism to ToM through fun games and stories.
  • Children with autism are often taught specific social skills.  However, evidence suggests that teaching children about the principles that underlie concepts is more effective than simple instruction (Perry, 1991).  Theory of Mind is the why of social interaction.

Practical Theory of Mind Games incorporates these principles and is also based on expert professional practice.


Baron-Cohen, S., Tager-Flusberg, H., & Cohen, D.J. (Eds.). (1993). Understanding other minds: Perspectives from developmental cognitive neuroscience. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Perner, J. (1991). Understanding the representational mind. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Perry, J. (1991). Learning and transfer: Instructional conditions and conceptual change. Cognitive Development, 6, 449-468.

Wellman, H.M. (1990). The child's theory of mind. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Wimmer, H., & Perner, J. (1983). Beliefs about beliefs: Representation and constraining function of wrong beliefs in young children's understanding of deception. Cognition, 13, 103-128. doi: 10.1016/0010-0277(83)90004-5


Carol Krakower


Carol Krakower, M.A., CCC-SLP, thoroughly enjoys helping people communicate through the science and art of speech pathology.  Carol's private practice, Cornerstone Speech & Language, is in Manasquan, New Jersey.  With a master's degree in speech pathology from the College of New Jersey, she has many years of experience in a variety of settings, including preschools, elementary and high schools, specialized schools, and private practice.  Carol is a member of the Jersey Shore Storytellers and has coached students in public speaking to national championships.  She lives with her husband, children, and cats at the beautiful Jersey shore.  Her enthusiasm for speaking must be contagious—two of her five children are now speech pathologists.


Practical Theory of Mind Games is geared for children between the ages of 4 and 12 who are diagnosed with autism.  It is designed to help them understand literature and social interaction by teaching them theory of mind (ToM) through fun activities, games, and stories drawn from children's literature.

Theory of mind is the ability to understand that the perspective and intentions of other people are different from your own perspective and intentions.  Most children understand ToM, including the fact that other people can have false beliefs, by the age of four.  Yet children with autism show a specific deficit in understanding ToM.  Without understanding what another person can know or believe, a child with autism is not able to predict how a person may behave.  Practical Theory of Mind Games demonstrates how to assess a child's ability to understand ToM and how to teach it on a step-by-step, developmental basis.

Consider a very early toddler board book, such as Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann.  In this story, a gorilla takes the zookeeper's keys when he's not looking and lets other animals out of their cages.  All the animals follow the zookeeper, but the zookeeper doesn't know they're behind him.  Most 2-year-old children think this is a very funny book, but an older child with autism may not realize that the zookeeper doesn't know the animals are behind him.  Practical Theory of Mind Games takes beginning children's literature, such as Good Night, Gorilla, and breaks down the ToM components for the SLP to teach through creative dramatics and games.  The student rehearses different perspectives and gains an understanding of what others can know, want, and believe.

Many children with autism receive social skills training and are taught social skills directly through rules and social stories.  This is appropriate because these are children who need explicit instruction in social skills.  This could be called a "top down" approach.  However, there is also a need to learn social skills from the "bottom up."  This is theory of mind instruction.  If children are not taught ToM along with explicit social skills, they may imitate social behavior, but they may never really understand it.