Psychological models of autism

an overview

Elizabeth Pellicano*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

12 Citations (Scopus)


Autism is currently defined in terms of a core set of behaviours, including difficulties in social reciprocity and communication, and limitations in behavioural flexibility. In the past three decades, considerable efforts have been directed towards understanding the neurocognitive atypicalities that underlie these core behaviours. This chapter provides an overview of the major theoretical accounts of autism, especially the theory of mind hypothesis, the executive dysfunction hypothesis, and weak central coherence theory, each of which has aimed to explain autism in terms of a single underlying cognitive atypicality. Some of the reasons why researchers have become dissatisfied with these so-called ‘single-deficit’ accounts as explanatory models of autism will be analysed, before turning to more recent ‘multiple-deficits’ models to begin the task of outlining the additional challenges faced by such models. The chapter concludes by stressing the need to situate explanatory accounts of autism – single or multiple-deficit models – within a developmental context.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationResearching the autism spectrum
Subtitle of host publicationcontemporary perspectives
EditorsIlona Roth, Payam Rezaie
Place of PublicationCambridge ; New York
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages47
ISBN (Electronic)9780511973918, 9780511858338, 9780511859205, 9780511860942
ISBN (Print)9780521518963, 9780521736862
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Psychological models of autism: an overview'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this