The Sally–Anne Test
The Sally–Anne Test is a psychological test, used in developmental psychology and can measure a person’s social cognitive ability to imagine variations in another person’s perception of a shared experience. This test often has a similar result in people who are on the autistic spectrum. If you suspect that your child has autism you should seek professional advice but this harmless test will show if they share a social perception common seen in children on the autistic spectrum.
These drawings of Sally and Anne should be clearly presented to the child as you talk through them stage by stage. The final question will reveal the result.
This test can also be done using props. You will need two similar sized dolls or action figures, two containers that are distinctively different that can be closed, so an object can be hidden within; and an object that can fit into both containers. This object should be interesting or colourful in order to make it the focus of the test.
If they think Sally believes that the orange is in her red box. It will show that their answer is continuous with Sally’s perspective; but not with their own. If they cannot take an alternative perspective, they will indicate that Sally has cause to believe, as the they do, that the orange has moved. If they think Sally sees this situation just like they do, will mean that they struggle to comprehend that Sally could have a set of beliefs different from their own.
This test was able to help me see very clearly how easily I can forget that Adrian’s reactions to a shared experience are often governed by this autism not by a desire to be difficult or to challenge me. This can be a helpful way to show a sibling why it’s important that they exercise more patience when trying to understand a brother or sister who are on the autistic spectrum. ~ Mark
ANSWER – “The orange is in the blue box”
Thinking that Sally sees this situation just like they do will mean that they struggle to comprehend that Sally could have a set of beliefs that are different from their own.
ANSWER – “The orange is in the red box”
This shows that their answer is continuous with Sally’s perspective; but not with their own. Proving that they are able to imagine other people’s alternative perspective, that are different from their own.
80% of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder chose the blue box. Indicating that understanding another person’s beliefs, desires, intentions, emotions and behaviors is no easy task and can sometimes cause confusion and in extreme cases anxiety.
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