Social cognition and autism spectrum conditions

Simon Baron-Cohen, Ofer Golan, Bhismadev Chakrabarti and Matthew K. Belmonte

in Social Cognition and Developmental Psychopathology

Published on behalf of Oxford University Press

Published in print September 2008 | ISBN: 9780198569183
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191754432 | DOI:

Series: International Perspectives in Philosophy & Psychiatry

Social cognition and autism spectrum conditions

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Autism is diagnosed when a child or adult has abnormalities in a ‘triad’ of behavioural domains: social development, communication, and repetitive behaviour/obsessive interests (American Psychiatric Association 1994; World Health Organization 1994). Autism can occur at any point on the IQ continuum, and IQ is a strong predictor of outcome (Rutter 1978). Autism is also invariably accompanied by language delay (no single words before 2 years old). Asperger syndrome (AS) (Asperger 1944) is a subgroup on the autistic spectrum. People with AS share many of the same features seen in autism, but with no history of language delay and with IQ in the average range or above. In this chapter we will use the term autism spectrum conditions (ASC) to describe the whole spectrum of individuals who meet diagnostic criteria for one or other of these subgroups. Because autism is a developmental condition, and because developmental psychopathology is the focus for this volume, we will at times be discussing adults with this diagnosis, even though this book has a focus on childhood conditions. Adult studies are of course relevant not only because the onset of ASC is during early childhood, but also because of how changes across the lifespan throw light on developmental outcomes.

Chapter.  12012 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Psychiatry

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