Research has shed valuable light on the cognitive strengths and weaknesses characteristic of people with autism spectrum disorders. The study was carried out by Elizabeth Pellicano, senior lecturer in autism education at the Institute of Education, and assessed a group of children at the age of five to six and again three years later. They were asked, for example, to watch a videotaped series of social interactions and predict the behaviour of characters based on their mental state. In most cases, the autistic children showed considerable improvement over time in appreciating others' thoughts and feelings, and also proved better able to plan, regulate and control their own thoughts and actions. The full results of the study appear in the current issue of the journal Child Development.