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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.


Kristien Hens

University of Antwerp