This book, in addition to providing an outline of what current perspectives have to offer, also provides a framework to help readers to decide which aspects of psychological research into ASD contribute to our understanding of the field and how these can be integrated in a way that enables research to be taken forward.
1. Identifying Autism: From Discrete Entity to Multidimensional Spectrum.
Early conceptions: the ‘autistic child’.
From discrete entity to spectrum of related conditions.
Diagnostic systems and instruments.
Dimensions versus entities: ‘lumping’ versus ‘splitting’.
2. Understanding Other Minds: Cognitive Approaches.
Understanding false belief: a specific mental module?
Understanding minds: a specific process or something else?
3. Understanding Other People: Emotion and Interaction.
Appraisal of emotion in others.
Understanding the directedness of behaviour.
Understanding others in autism: final conclusions.
4. Beyond Social Impairment: Difficulties with Executive Functions.
Implications of the executive dysfunction account for our understanding of ASD.
5. Building a Coherent Picture of the World.
Alternative explanations of WCC phenomena.
6. Attention and Perception.
Accounting for attentional difficulties.
7. Specific Aspects of Understanding: Faces, Concepts and Memory.
8. Psychology, Autism and the Brain.
Studies of brain size and structure.
Lesion-based models of autistic behaviour.
Theories of global brain dysfunction.
Brain impairments inferred from more basic psychological processes.
Assumptions about development in ASD: psychometrics, matching and developmental delay.
Developmental trajectories in ASD.
Developmental change in two psychological domains: theory of mind and executive functions.
Developmental theory and ASD.
10. Whence and Whither: Glimpses of the Tapestry, Paths Through the Jungle.
How far have we really come?
Stepping back to move forward? Emerging themes.