Set #9 (Lectures 22 & 23)
Set #10 (Lecture 24) will be sent out by email.
Good luck on your finals!! April 6 2010
Grades for midterm 3 will be posted at the end of the week. You can then go see your TAs
Information regarding the final has been posted on WebCT. The discussion boards will have
to be closed the morning of the exam because some people will be writing it in the morning.
Next class, Janine will come back in and distribute evaluation forms for herself only. That
will be written by hand.
The order of topics from the syllabus has changed because autism really falls in nicely with what
we have done in social cognition last week. An overwhelming majority of people voted for
autism. Why did you vote for that topic?
A: Because this is apparently becoming prevalent in children and diagnosis is increasing.
A: Because we dont know what it is.
A: Its one of the disorders where individuals are good at certain aspects of behaviour but not so
good at others.
What we will do today is that we have our reading from Nation and Penny; this is a review
article of gaze following behaviour in individuals with autism. It is a very recent review and
accurately reflects where this field is. We will talk about diagnosis, diagnostic criteria and
history of this disorder and then we will talk about prevalence and increasing rates of diagnosis
and why that may be. Then we will go into understanding the social cognitive deficit.
Autism, in the American Psychological Association publishes every 3-5 years a big book with all
the disorders in them, and that is called the diagnostic and statistic manual of behavioural
disorders. That is how all behavioural disorders are diagnosed, using the guidelines from that
book. Autism is a part of pervasive developmental disorders. There is a section in the book called pervasive developmental disorders. This is opposed to specific developmental disorders
like learning disabilities for example. ADHD for example is a completely different category
called childhood disorders.
It basically refers to a group of 5 disorders characterized by delays in multiple basic functions,
including socialization and communication delay. All these 5 disorders have the same
pronounced characteristic that these individuals have lack or impairment in social behaviours
and communication. The pervasive developmental disorders (PDD) are:
Autism, called autistic disorder
Retts Syndrome, a rare chromosomal disorder
Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (CDD)
PDD-NOS (not otherwise specified), when a child cannot be put into one of these
That is the autism spectrum. Autistic disorder is just one part of that. Autism was first described
in the 1940s by a psychiatrist named Leo Kanner. He described a group of 11 kids with a
number of social characteristics like lack of social responsiveness, they were limited in their
communication patterns and had unusual communication patterns. Around the same time, a
person called Hans Asperger observed a group of children with similar characteristics but their
symptoms were all less severe. Typically, Aspergers Syndrome is typically less severe autism,
or in the field its considered to be high functioning autism.
Lets look at some of the criteria for autistic disorder. To be diagnosed with autism, a total of six
or more items from 1, 2 or 3 have to be present. At least two from 1, and one from each 2 and 3.
DSM-IV Diagnostic Criteria for Autistic Behaviour (A)
1. Qualitative impairment in social interaction, as manifested by at least two of the
(a) marked impairment in the use of multiple nonverbal behaviors such as eye-to-eye
gaze, facial expression, body postures, and gestures to regulate social interaction
(b) failure to develop peer relationships appropriate to developmental level
(c) a lack of spontaneous seeking to share enjoyment, interests, or achievements with
other people (e.g., by a lack of showing, bringing, or pointing out objects of interest)
(d) lack of social or emotional reciprocity
This first group of symptoms is all about social interaction and failure to initiate them.
2. Qualitative impairments in communication as manifested by at least one of the
following. Individuals with autism often have trouble communicating and with language:
(a) delay in, or total lack of, the development of spoken language (not accompanied by
an attempt to compensate through alternative modes of communication such as gestures or
(b) in individuals with adequate speech, marked impairment in the ability to initiate or
sustain a conversation with others
(c) stereotyped and repetitive use of language or idiosyncratic language. Individuals
with autism have typical language patterns that they display, such as echolalia, which is
repetitive use of language. This is similar to language in people with schizophrenia, who have
marked language deficiencies and will often talk in rhymes or display echolalia, repeating words.
(d) lack of varied, spontaneous make-believe play or social imitative play appropriate to
developmental level. Again this is a social dysfunction.