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Autism Spectrum

By: Patty Kittrell

Symptoms of Autism

Children who meet criteria for Aspergers

Syndrome Disorder may have delays or
issues in development of:
physical abilities,
social skills
issues with self-control
emotional issues
unusual behaviors

(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2015).

Social Intelligence Impairments

Preliminary study shows that high functioning

autistic adults are less socially intelligent
than normally intelligent individuals.
The tests for social intelligence involves:
mind reading,
the reading of expressions,
other tasks that imply deficits in social intelligence,
comparing the brain scans of the control and the

autistic group to determine if there is a difference in

brain structures associated with social intelligence.

Mirror Neuron Systems

Mirror neurons provide the
framework for imitation and

Mirror neural density is shown lower in the

brain scans of autistic individuals.

Early developmental failures of mirror neuron

systems are likely to result in a consequent
cascade of developmental impairments
characterized by the clinical syndrome of
autism (Williams, Whiten, Suddendorf, & Perrett, 2001).


Mirror Neuron research is preliminary

and outlines framework for higher
social function and empathy.

Few studies have addressed

phenotype of this genetic disease
and the course through development.

Personal Insights

There is an overwhelming need to

articulate the specific limitations of
the disease in future research.

Two Focuses of study:

impairments in communication,
impairments in reciprocal social, and

emotional interaction.


BaronCohen, S., Jolliffe, T., Mortimore, C., & Robertson, M. (1997). Another
advanced test of theory of mind: Evidence from very high functioning adults with
autism or Asperger syndrome.Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry,38(7),

BaronCohen, S., Wheelwright, S., Hill, J., Raste, Y., & Plumb, I. (2001). The
Reading the Mind in the Eyes test revised version: A study with normal adults,
and adults with Asperger syndrome or highfunctioning autism.Journal of child
psychology and psychiatry,42(2), 241-251.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2015). Autism Spectrum Disorder:
Signs and Symptoms. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Georgia,

Seltzer, M. M., Shattuck, P., Abbeduto, L., & Greenberg, J. S. (2004). Trajectory of
development in adolescents and adults with autism.Mental retardation and
developmental disabilities research reviews,10(4), 234-247.

Williams, J. H., Whiten, A., Suddendorf, T., & Perrett, D. I. (2001). Imitation, mirror
neurons and autism.Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews,25(4), 287-295.