Theories of Autism: A Review of Four Contemporary Theories


  • Keira Chivawne Ogle University of Victoria


autism, theories of, theory of mind, central coherence, executive functioning, systemizing


Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder characterized by impairments in social interaction and communication, and by restricted and repetitive behaviour. While, there is some debate among researchers regarding the underlying deficit causing ASD, determining such a deficit is critical to guiding early identification and fostering effective instruction for individuals with ASD. The purpose of this paper is to evaluate four contemporary theories of ASD - theory of mind, central coherence, executive functioning, and hyper-systemizing - in terms of their explanatory power, specificity, and universality. The evaluation reveals that the concomitant deficits in/of theory of mind, central coherence, or executive functioning do not meet the criteria of primary deficit in individuals with ASD. While more research is necessary, the superior explanatory power of Baron-Cohen’s (2006) proposed hyper-systemizing theory of autism, suggests that this is a promising new account of the core deficit in ASD. In order to encourage the integration of theory, research, and practice, this paper discusses the implications of hyper-systemizing theory to future research and to the development of educational interventions.

Author Biography

Keira Chivawne Ogle, University of Victoria

Keira Ogle is a third year MA student, studying Special Education in the department of Educational Psychology and Leadership Studies at the University of Victoria. In her research and practice she has two priorities: (1) to determine the most effective way to improve literacy in different populations of children with exceptionalities and (2) to disseminate that information to the people who need it.






Literature Review/Revue de la documentation