DIFFERENCES BETWEEN EMPATHIC RESPONSES IN CHILDREN WITH AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER AND TYPICALLY DEVELOPING CHILDREN
Iulia BUTEAN, Cristina COSTESCU*, Anca DOBREAN
Department of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy,
Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania
Previous studies show that empathy deficits are considered an important barrier for the social development of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This study compares the empathic responses between a group of children with ASD and a group of typically developing (TD) children. We included 63 children, out of which 26 had a diagnosis of ASD. We used an empathy task which simulated leg pain and an observational grid to assess four dimensions of empathy: affective responding, behavior activation, verbal empathic initiations and prosocial behaviors. The results showed that children with ASD had a lower performance at the affective responding and behavior activation dimensions, as compared with TD children, but there were no differences between the two groups in verbal empathic initiations and prosocial behaviors.
Keywords: empathic responses, autism spectrum disorder, prosocial behaviors.