Abstract

Recent representations of autism frequently include an assumption that autism is the result of a “theory of mind” deficit (i.e., an inability to understand others' mental states). This notion is examined using a social constructionist perspective. The belief that autism is a sort of “mind-blindness” has much in common with earlier representations of autism that depict it as a puzzle and, paradoxically, as a single entity defined by core characteristics. Theory of mind theorists also, like their predecessors, define autism as a form of insufficiency and as requiring fixing rather than accommodation. Alternative narratives about autistic minds that incorporate the perspectives of people labeled autistic are an important counterbalance to the limitations of such professional viewpoints.

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