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When we mindread or mentalise, we not only make sense of another person’s behaviour (why did their head swivel on their neck? ), but we also imagine a whole set of mental states (they have seen something of interest, they know something or want something) and we can predict what they might do next. A test of central coherence theory: Can adults with high functioning autism or Asperger syndrome integrate fragments of an object. The mindblindness theory proposes that children with autism and Asperger’s syndrome are delayed in the development of their To M, leaving them with degrees of mindblindness. Are people with autism or Asperger's syndrome faster than normal on the Embedded Figures Task?
Its shortcoming is that it cannot account for the non-social features.
A second shortcoming of this theory is that whilst mindreading is one component of empathy, true empathy also requires an emotional response to another person’s state of mind (Davis, 1994).
These two aspects – the autistic spectrum and the possibility of sex-linked explanations – have been at the core of my research and theorising over recent years.
The mindblindness theory In my early work I explored the theory that children with autism spectrum conditions are delayed in developing a theory of mind (To M): the ability to put oneself into someone else’s shoes, to imagine their thoughts and feelings (Baron-Cohen, 1995; Baron-Cohen et al., 1985).
As for distinguishing features, a diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome requires that the child spoke on time and has average IQ or above.
Today the notion of an autistic spectrum is no longer defined by any sharp separation from ‘normality’ (Wing, 1997). Domain specificity in conceptual development: Neuropsychological evidence from autism. The evidence for intact or even unusually strong systemising in autism and Asperger’s syndrome is that, in one study, such children performed above the level that one would expect on a physics test (Baron-Cohen, Wheelwright et al., 2001). Children with Asperger’s syndrome as young as 8–11 years old scored higher than a comparison group who were older (typical teenagers). On the Empathy Quotient (EQ), a questionnaire either filled out by an adult about themselves, or by a parent about their child, both cognitive empathy and affective empathy are assessed. Empathizing and systemizing in males, females and autism. On this scale, people with autism spectrum conditions score lower than comparison groups. In the general population, males score slightly (but statistically significantly) higher than females. Since autism spectrum conditions are far more common in males than in females (classic autism occurs in four males for every one female, and Asperger’s syndrome occurs in nine males for every one female), this may suggest that the number of autistic traits a person has is connected to a sex-linked biological factor – genetic or hormonal, or both (Baron-Cohen et al., 2005; Baron-Cohen et al., 2004). The challenge has been to explain all of the features of autism, across all individuals on the autistic spectrum. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 32, 1081–1106. After 25 years of careful testing, Simon Baron-Cohen concludes that 'mindblindness'or difficulties with empathy can explain the social-communication difficulties in autism, whilst the newer concept of 'hyper-systemising' can explain the areas of strength in autism: excellent attention to detail, and unusually narrow interests. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 27, 719–730. These are some of the major kinds of system: In all these cases, you systemise by noting regularities (or structure) and rules. The rules tend to be derived by noting whether A and B are associated in a systematic way.