Autism: An Introduction to Psychological Theory

Autism: An Introduction to Psychological Theory

Autism: An Introduction to Psychological Theory

Autism: An Introduction to Psychological Theory


This title is intended for advanced undergraduate and masters level students in psychology; professional clinical, developmental and educational psychologists; general practitioners and others with a special interest in children; careworkers; and parents of autistic children.


This book is intended as an introduction to current thinking about autism. There are many excellent practical guides to autism for parents and teachers (Wing 1971, Howlin & Rutter 1987, Aarons & Gittens 1991, Baron-Cohen & Bolton 1993). Wonderful and evocative books have been written by the parents of children with autism, which give insight into the everyday life and personal development of the individual (e.g. Park 1987, Hart 1989, McDonnell 1993). Increasingly, able individuals with autism are telling their own stories, a testament to their courage and talents (e.g. Grandin 1984, Grandin & Scariano 1986, Miedzianik 1986, Williams 1992). For those with an interest in theoretical and research issues, there are books which put forward a single author's theory of the condition (e.g. Frith 1989a, Hobson 1993a). There are also weighty collections of chapters by experts, each writing in detail about a particular facet of the disorder (Schopler & Mesibov 1983, 1985, 1987, Cohen et al. 1987, Dawson 1989, Baron-Cohen et al. 1993b).

This book aims to serve a function not intended by any of these books: to give a concise and readable introduction to current research and theory in the field of autism. As far as possible I have tried to give a balanced overview of the field. However, I have also attempted to synthesize and critically assess work in the area-which necessarily introduces my own perspective. I hope that this will encourage readers to think critically and formulate their own research questions and hypotheses.

Although this book is not a practical guide to the care and education of people with autism, I hope that it may be of interest to parents and teachers, who are in many senses the true experts. The primary intended audience, however, is undergraduate and postgraduate students of psychology or related subjects, who-like me-find themselves captivated and mesmerized by the enigma of autism.

MRC Cognitive Development Unit

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