By Francesca Happe

This name is meant for complex undergraduate and masters point scholars in psychology; expert medical, developmental and academic psychologists; basic practitioners and others with a unique curiosity in kids; careworkers; and fogeys of autistic little ones.

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In Chapter 6 some alternative psychological theories of autism are considered. Background This theory began with the observation that autistic children do not spontaneously engage in pretend play. As Alan Leslie (1987) has pointed out, pretence is an extraordinarily complex behaviour to emerge so early in normal development. ” This is no way to teach a child about bananas and telephones! The child should be upset, confused; instead he is delighted. Around 18 months the normal child can understand and indulge in pretend play (Fein 1981)—how is this possible without wrecking the child’s encyclopaedic world knowledge?

The theory of mind explanation of autism has allowed researchers to make clear cuts between what appeared to be very similar behaviours—carving nature at the joints according to a precise theory about the underlying cognitive “bone structure”. For example, Attwood et al. g. g. signals to come, be quiet or go away) as did control subjects with severe learning difficulties. Similarly, Baron-Cohen (1989a) found that autistic subjects were impaired in their use and understanding of pointing for AUTISM AT THE COGNITIVE LEVEL 39 the sake of sharing attention (protodeclarative pointing) but not of pointing in order to get a desired object (protoimperative pointing).

The search for the area of the brain which is damaged in autism is likely to be greatly facilitated in the future by the development of increasingly advanced brain imaging techniques. g. g. ). With the increasingly sophisticated techniques of functional imaging, using our knowledge of autism at the behavioural and cognitive levels, it may become possible to locate the area of the brain which is damaged in autism. Conclusions Whereas much research has been conducted into the biological nature of autism, and much has been learnt about the genetics and predisposing medical conditions, relatively little has been conclusively determined regarding the actual brain area or pathway involved.

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