Skip to main content

About this free course

Download this course

Share this free course

Understanding autism
Understanding autism

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Week 4: Explaining autism: mind and brain

Introduction

In Weeks 1 to 3, you gained a picture of how the behaviour and thinking style of autistic people may differ from that of neurotypical people, and you have learned which of these key differences form the basis for diagnosis. But how and why do such differences come about? This is a question that scientists have tried to answer, offering explanations or theories about the psychology of autism (how the mind works), the neurobiology (structure and function of the brain and nervous system), and genetics (the influence of genes in a person’s physical and psychological traits, in this case making autism more likely to occur in some people than others). This week we will consider selected highlights of this scientific work. Notice that some of these studies consider relationships between different levels (psychology, neurobiology and genetics).

Now watch the following video in which Dr Ilona Roth introduces this week’s work.

Download this video clip.Video player: boc_aut_1_video_week4_intro.mp4
Copy this transcript to the clipboard
Print this transcript
Show transcript|Hide transcript
 
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

By the end of this week you should be able to:

  • understand key approaches to explaining autism
  • differentiate three levels of explanation: psychological, neurobiological and genetic
  • understand key psychological accounts of the autistic ‘thinking style’ and identify implications for everyday life
  • appreciate key ideas about brain and nervous system function in autism
  • appreciate the complex role of genetic influences in autism.