Section 2: Know theories that relate to autism

Q4: Outline the following theoretical models in relation to identifying autism: (2.1)
a) Leo Kanner
What we define as autism today was once believed to be something completely different by 1940s theorist, Leo Kanner. Kanner believed autism was caused by lack of attention from parents which, in today’s views, is incredibly controversial. The theory, called ‘Autistic Disturbances of Affective Contact’, caused issues amongst parents, as what was suggested to be the cause made it hard for the parents to live with – making them feel guilt, distress and even confusion. Despite the theory being disproved in the 1970’s, there is still chance that the theory could still be believed, which could contribute to the lack of knowledge of believing there could be a cure or that other people are to blame.
b) Hans Asperger
The term ‘Asperger’s syndrome’ was coined by Lorna Wing and Judith Gould and could be suggested to be named after Hans Asperger, who is believed to have lived with the condition throughout his life. Asperger virtually diagnosed himself with a condition, which is now known as Asperger’s syndrome, after creating a research group with his peers who faced similar characteristics. They named themselves the ‘little professors’ due to their ability to hold conversations about specific topics in
great detail, and noted similarities between each other: their lack of empathy, their little ability to form relationships with others, one-sided conversations in which they had had, their intense absorption in special interests and their clumsy movements.
c) Wing and Gould
As mentioned previously, Lorna Wing and Judith Gould coined the term ‘Asperger’s syndrome’, not only that but also the phrase ‘triad of improvements’ which refers to the difficulties and delays someone with autism can face: communication, social interaction and obsessive behaviours. Wing and Gould helped to form the National Autistic Society who support and educate others who live with ASC.

Q5: Explain how the terms ‘neurodiverse’ and ‘neurotypical’ are used in relation to identifying autism. (2.2)
a) Neurodiverse
Neurodiverse and neurotypical are terms that are mainly referred to when referring to autism. They are both seen to be opposite of each other, neurodiverse meaning the acceptance of diversity within the brain in the way people think and behave, whilst neurotypical faces a more mainstream approach and defines the way that the majority of society think and behave. The term neurodiverse can reduce the likelihood of someone with autism being seen as ‘different’ or ‘odd’ and can help to remove stereotypes, as well as social stigma and the belief that someone can be ‘disabled’ or ‘deficient’ based on their condition.
b) Neurotypical
As explained above, the term neurotypical usually refers to someone who does not have autism. In some cases, it can be seen as someone who is ‘opposite’ of someone who is neurodiverse – having diversity in the way one thinks or behaves – and although, should never define as someone being ‘normal’, it can be referred to as meaning someone is ‘mainstream’. Using the term neurotypical helps to remove any positive connotations of being seen as ‘normal’, but also the negative, being seen as
‘deficient’, ‘disabled’ and ‘a lesser person’.