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Curriculum Vitae
Curriculum Vitae
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Perspectives on International Politics: Discourse on Democracy and Diplomacy
Perspectives on International Politics: Discourse on Democracy and Diplomacy
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5.3 Causal links and models

There seems little doubt that genetic factors and atypical functioning of one or more areas of the brain and nervous system accompanies some or all ASDs. But this tells us little about the role of these influences in a ‘causal chain’ leading to autism.

As we saw, genetic defects may play a major initiating role, perhaps affecting the development of specific brain areas and systems, which in turn hinder development of specific socio-cognitive functions. The idea that similar bra
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5.2 Do organic influences play a role in autistic spectrum conditions?

Much of the evidence for organic influences, comes from subtle or non-specific types of dysfunction that may vary from one autistic individual to another. Steffenburg (1991) conducted a study of 52 children with ASDs. There was evidence for atypical functioning of the brain and/or nervous system in over 90 per cent of the participants, but in just under 50 per cent, these symptoms were non-specific. For instance, a substantial number of this latter group had epileptic symptoms and/or abnormal
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5.1 Are there genetic factors in autistic spectrum conditions?

Section 4 focused on explaining the characteristic symptoms of ASDs in terms of socio-cognitive functioning. In this section the focus shifts to the biological level: what biological influences might both trigger and maintain atypical functioning in areas like theory of mind, global information processing and emotional relatedness?

As was emphasised in Section 1, bio
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4.8 Section summary

  • Most socio-cognitive approaches to autistic spectrum disorders seek to unify different symptoms in terms of models of underlying functioning.

  • Theory of mind approaches argue that difficulties in understanding mental states such as beliefs, intentions and desires are the ‘core’ problem.

  • Experimental tests of theory of mind employ tasks such as testing the understanding of false belief.

  • Baron-Cohen h
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4.7 The family context

Whether or not children with autism behave atypically from the moment they are born, the effects of their atypical way of relating to others must inevitably be felt by parents and others in the family:

Jane would allow herself to be cuddled, but only if I didn't look at her. She always resisted sitting on my lap unless she was facing away. And I could go to her with my arms out, just as I had a million times with m
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4.6 Emotions, relatedness and the developmental process

Cognitive style and ToM approaches both draw extensively on cognitive concepts to explain why functioning in autism is atypical. ToM has typically assumed that successful social interaction and communication involves processing information about other people in the form of social stimuli such as gestures, expressions, language and behaviour. The processes that promote emotional understanding and relatedness between people have been seen as essentially akin to the more ‘rationalâ
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4.5 Central coherence and cognitive style

Despite variations in ToM performance between sub-groups, the approach as a whole provides a compelling explanation for problems in the areas of social interaction and communication. However, it offers no obvious explanation for symptoms in the third ‘triad’ area, such as impoverished imagination, restricted interests and repetitive behaviour. Frith (1989) and Happé (1999) have proposed that these behaviours reflect a different kind of atypical functioning: a distinctive cogn
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4.4 Theory of mind and self-awareness

One of my most recurrent problems throughout middle childhood was my constant failure to distinguish between my knowledge and that of others. Very often my parents would miss deadlines or appointments because I failed to tell them of these matters. For instance my parents missed the school's Open House in my fifth grade and my mom asked me afterward, ‘why didn't you tell us about it?’ ‘I thought you knew
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4.3 A distinctive sub-group?

The fact that around 20 per cent of children with autistic spectrum disorders regularly pass tasks such as the Sally-Anne test fits well with the notion of an autistic spectrum including different profiles of skills and deficits. But it questions the idea of a core ToM deficit that all people with ASDs share. So is the theory inadequate, given that its predictions are not always supported?

Francesca Happé (Happé, 1994) suggests that some of those passing tests such as t
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4.2.3 Metarepresentation and pretend play

Alan Leslie (1991) has suggested that understanding mental states such as false belief requires the sophisticated skill of ‘de-coupling’ or disengaging (mentally speaking) from the truth of a situation (e.g. ‘The car is in Park Street’), in order to hold in mind an idea that differs from this reality (‘Jane thinks the car is in Mount Street’). This capacity is known as metarepresentation and is seen as a crucial element of language understanding.

Leslie
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4.2.2 Seeing leads to knowing

Think back to the car parking example. Your judgement that your friend will go back to the original car parking place in Mount Street is actually a well-informed ‘guess’ based on evidence from your friend's behaviour. For instance your friend saw you parking the car and walked off without seeing you moving the car. We don't consciously run through such information before ‘calculating’ other peoples' states of mind. However, we are capable of making rapid, direc
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4.2.1 Gaze following and proto-declarative pointing

Consider how behaviour might provide one person with cues to what another person is thinking. For instance, how do you know that someone you are talking to is interested in what you are saying? They may open their eyes wide, sit up straight or make noises like ‘hmmm’. Such gestures and expressions are cues to thoughts, which we monitor all the time without being aware of it. Baron-Cohen (1995) provides evidence that the ability to use subtle behaviours, such as picking up wher
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4.2 Developmental origins of theory of mind

The critical skills for engagement in the social world, which Baron-Cohen (1995) calls mind-reading, appear to be both complex and subtle. Certain early infant behaviours, which autistic children fail to acquire, are thought to provide the basic ‘building blocks’ for this mind-reading.

4.1 Do people with autistic spectrum disorders lack a theory of mind?

An important challenge for psychologists working on autistic spectrum disorders is to explain why characteristic impairments occur in three different areas of functioning (social interaction, communication, activities and interests). One strategy for explaining this three-way pattern is to identify a single underlying problem that links the different symptoms. Section 4 considers such ‘core deficit’ approaches. They all address autism at the socio-cognitive level, but make dif
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3.5 Section summary

  • Asperger worked independently of Kanner during the 1940s. His case studies, including intellectually able children, highlighted variations in severity and in specific symptoms among children identified as autistic.

  • Wing and Gould's population study established the spectrum concept.

  • The term Asperger's syndrome is used for symptom patterns similar to autism, but less pervasive. The significance of language and communication
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3.4 Growing up with ASD

Follow-up studies of people with ASDs suggest that most have life-long difficulties of some kind. Peeters and Gillberg (1999) estimate that about two thirds of those diagnosed before school age remain dependent on others for support and housing as adults. However, for some individuals at least, the pattern of symptoms changes and becomes less severe with age.

Kanner (1973) traced the progress of 96 individuals in their twenties and thirties, whom he had seen as child patients. T
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Office-Based Laryngeal Surgery
One of the most exciting aspects about the practice of laryngology is physicians' increased ability to perform highly specialized procedures in the convenience of an office setting. In this one-minute video, Dr. VyVy N. Young, assistant professor of otorhinolaryngology - head and neck surgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and director of laryngology at the University of Maryland Medical Center, discusses the different procedures that laryngologists can now perform in the offic
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Dr. Robert Pond, Sr. "40 Years of Metallurgy"
5/4/1988. Lecture given by Dr. Robert Pond, Sr. in celebration of his contributions to education and to honor his promotion to professor emeritus.
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