Accommodating the disabled
This important idea can be traced to Uta Frith's book , and has been recently discussed in relation to 'central coherence' theory , but deserves a fuller discussion because of the massive implications of this shift of emphasis.
Using the term "different" rather than "deficient" may seem unimportant (after all, both words begin with 'd', end in 't' and have 7 letters in between).
Rather, most of the above facts show the child as immersed in the world of things rather than people.
This might be a basic way of defining the difference between a person with an autism spectrum condition and one without it .
But this small shift could mean the difference between whether the diagnosis of autism is received as a family tragedy, akin to being told that the child has some other severe, life-long illness like diabetes or haemophilia, or whether the diagnosis of autism is received as interesting information, akin to being told that the child is right or left-handed.
In this millennium special issue of Development and Psychopathology, the intention is to highlight this as an issue for the agenda.
For example, a child with AS/HFA who prefers to stay in the classroom poring over encyclopaedias and rock collections during break-time, when other children are outside playing together, could simply be seen as different, not disabled.
But surely the narrow deep knowledge is no less valuable than the broad, shallower variety, and certainly not a necessary index of deficit? Just because a child with AS/HFA notices the unique numbers on lamp-posts which the rest of us are unaware of, does this make him impaired? The same argument can be applied to all of the other facts listed above. A full review of these is beyond the scope of this article, but the reader can consult other excellent summaries .
Being more object-focused than people-focused is clearly only a disability in an environment that expects everyone to be social.
But a moment's reflection highlights the injustice of this expectation.
However, whilst these neural abnormalities signal differences between brains of people with and without AS/HFA, they cannot be taken as evidence that one type of brain is better or worse than the other.
Similarly, AS/HFA appears to be strongly familial, implying a genetic aetiology, and the first report from an international molecular genetic consortium study reported a linkage on Chromosome 7 in affected individuals .
For the present purposes, we consider the arguments in relation to AS and HFA, without attempting to draw any distinction between these.