Autism and Theory of Mind
due Friday, Mar. 19
Scientists are interested in people with autism not only to try to ameliorate their problems, but also because this disorder can tell us something about how the brain works and how people develop.
For this assignment, you will read two contrasting accounts of autism, both available on the web.
In your essay, you must address whether these two different views of the same condition can be reconciled. Make sure you touch on the following points:
- The first article is by Uta Frith (The article "Autism" is from Scientific American, June 1993, reprinted in 1997 in a special issue.) In this article, Frith takes a strong stance that autism is "a central defect at the highest level of cognitive processing.". Text version.
- The second article is by a famous, very high functioning person with autism, Temple Grandin. It can be found at http://www.autism.org/temple/visual.html. It describes her sensory and communication problems in very interesting detail.
- Are they talking about the same disorder? Why? Why not?
- What is the evidence for the "theory of mind" module, that is, a specific place in the brain dedicated to understanding mind states?
- Make a connection between what the scientists claim and what the person with autism experiences.
integrating and evaluating information from multiple sources.
use research to evaluate critically popular reports and applied issues.
understand research methods and interpret research findings