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Autism Spectrum Disorder Essay

1358 words - 6 pages

Autism Spectrum Disorder it a social behaviour inadequacy condition that affects around 1 in every 100 people. It is diagnosed through the use of referral, for a formal assessment which will usually be multi-disciplinary. Autism spectrum disorder is an untreatable disorder however people with autism spectrum disorder can be helped through the use of intervention therapy and various medication. These therapies usually teach the child how to deal with various social situations, whereas medication is used to neutralise brain functions to do with autism spectrum disorder.
In 1911 the term autism was first coined, by a psychiatrist by the name of Eugne Bleuler. He used this term to describe patients with schizophrenic traits of withdrawing themselves from social contact. However in 1943 Leo Kanner suggested that, children who show certain personality characteristics suffer from Autism, it was this study that defined autism spectrum disorder as its own condition and not a branch of schizophrenia as previously thought. This was the development of autism as it is known today.
In 1944 Hans Asperger described four boys as being autistic, these boys had the traits of what it now known as Aspergers Syndrome.
Over time two of the main theories on the cognation of autism spectrum disorder were developed, one being the theory of mind (ToM) the other being weak central coherence (WCC). ToM is the is the capability to connect mental states, intents, beliefs, knowledge, pretending and desires. One of the most influential individuals to make pronouncements in the field of ToM concerning autism spectrum disorder was Alan Leslie. He proposed that children with autism lack ToM. This idea came from an experiment performed by Baron-Cohen, Leslie, & Frith. (1985) which became know as the sally-ann task. In this task children with autism spectrum disorder were asked to predict the outcome of a task that involved false belief. The result of this task showed that 80% of children with autism spectrum disorder could not predict the outcome of a task that involved false belief. The same task was then given to children with downs syndrome, these children were correctly able to predict the outcome of the task. The findings from this study indicate that children with autism spectrum disorder do not have the ability to process ToM. Happe (1995) extended Baron-Cohen et al (1985)’s original findings. Happe (1995) claimed that the role of age and verbal ability in ToM task performance of subjects with autism needed an increased verbal mental age to pass false belief tasks. Because the experiments performed to test this hypothesis are laboratory based they lack real life application and therefore have low ecological validity. By reason of lack of ecological validity, the verification that children with autism spectrum disorder can not perform ToM tasks can not be generalised to the population of individuals with autism spectrum disorder. This is based on the grounds that...

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