Jealousy and the Theory of Mind Connection
In neurotypical children, that is, children who have no underlying neurological disorder such as autism, self is seen as a separate entity. There is an understanding after the preschool years, that others have thoughts and feelings that do not necessarily match your own. Some empathy can take place, because there is an understanding of feelings that others have, even if that understanding is rudimentary.
In autism, there is a marked difficulty in identifying and recognizing others’ feelings. It can be hard for the child with autism to put himself in someone else’s shoes, because he doesn’t even realize that person has shoes that are different than his own. This is why many children with autism overreact to imagined slights. They aren’t being difficult. They really believe when you accidentally hit them with your elbow that you meant to do it.