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Joint-attention deficits in autism: Towards a cognitive analysis

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  31 October 2008

Simon Baron-Cohen*
Affiliation:
Departments of Psychology and Child Psychiatry, Institute of Psychiatry, University of London
*
Correspondence should be sent to: Simon Baron-Cohen, Department of Psychology, Institute of Psychiatry, University of London, DeCrespigny Park, London SE5 8AF, U.K.

Abstract

Mundy and Sigman (1989) present a challenge to the metarepresentational theory of autism. Their argument holds if it is assumed that the capacity for metarepresentation only emerges at 12–24 months old in normal development, as manifested in pretend play. However, I present reasons for postulating that the capacity for metarepresentation may be present from as early as 7–9 months of age, manifested in joint-attention behaviors. If this account has any validity, then the metarepresentational theory of autism is unaffected by Mundy and Sigman's challenge. In addition, I highlight some problems in Mundy and Sigman's alternative model of autism. These criticisms aside, their article is without doubt important and opens up critical questions both for models of the origins of autism and of a theory of mind in normal development.

Type
Open Peer Commentaries
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1989

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