The goal of this study was to compare expressions of pride and mastery in samples of preschool autistic, mentally retarded and normal children. A paradigm was used in which children completed developmentally appropriate puzzles, both with and without praise. Results indicated that compared to the other children, as many autistic children smiled upon completion of the task, but many fewer looked up to share their pleasure with the parent or experimenter or drew attention to the task. Moreover, significantly more autistic children showed avoidant responses, particularly in response to praise. These findings are discussed in terms of theoretical issues regarding the development of pride and mastery in children with significant social deficiencies.