Kristien Hens

Published On


Page Range

pp. 33-50

Print Length

17 pages

3. Cognitive Explanations of Autism: Beyond Theory of Mind

This chapters explores explanatory models of autism and their ethical implications. I describe older explanatory models such as deficit in theory of mind, weak central coherence and problems with executive functioning. Focussing on deficit in theory of mind I demonstrate that problematic assumptions about autistic people and their capacity for emotions and empathy have profound implications for how people look at autistic persons. I also discuss how such assumptions have played a role in meta ethical discussions on the nature of morality. I describe more recent models such as models based on atypical information and sensory processing. Such models are sometimes thought of as more representative of the autistic experience.