· Autism is a developmental issue which can affect different aspects of a child’s life, from communication to social interaction in general. Autism Spectrum Disorder is typically discussed, rather than autism itself, as there are many different aspects to autism which can affect the child’s development. At one end of the spectrum there is Asperger’s Syndrome, which is considered to be a mild form of autism. Usually, there are 10 boys with Asperger’s syndrome to 1 girl. The spectrum progresses through autism to severe autism, with the ratio of autism around 4 boys to 1 girl.
· Autism is diagnosed when a person has a set of characteristics, as opposed to symptoms. Typically, these characteristics can include difficulty reading emotions, difficulty empathising and problems with communication. When an autistic child can communicate clearly, they may not be able to understand what is being said to them or what they are saying. Autistic children also have problems forming relationships. However, they are good at understanding systems and may have a high ability in an area which interests them (often, this is based around a system). Diagnosis of autism usually occurs between 2 and 3 years of age.
· There are two explanations of autism, one being a lack of a theory of mind and another being an extreme male brain. These are cognitive and biological explanations respectively, as autism is typically thought of as being a problem with brain development, as opposed to social reasons.
· The theory of mind was devised by Baron-Cohen and Frith in 1985. It was based on a study of autistic children, which tested the ability of children to empathise with others. The method involved showing children two dolls which were moved by researchers. One doll, “Sally” placed a marble in a basket and then left the room. The other doll “Anne” moved the marble from the box to the basket. The first doll then returns. The children are then asked where they think Sally will look for the marble, if they say in the basket then they pass the theory of mind test. If they say that Sally will look in the box, then they fail the theory of mind test. This is…