The Passionate Mind: How People with Autism Learn

The Passionate Mind: How People with Autism Learn


By (author) Wendy Lawson, Foreword by Rita Jordan, Illustrated by Lisa Simone

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  • Format: Paperback | 224 pages
  • Dimensions: 156mm x 234mm x 15mm | 331g
  • Publication date: 15 October 2010
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 1849051216
  • ISBN 13: 9781849051217
  • Illustrations note: 15 black & white drawings
  • Sales rank: 116,873

Product description

In her new book, Wendy Lawson examines traditional theories about the autism spectrum (AS) and reveals their gaps and shortcomings. Showing that a completely different way of thinking about AS is needed, she sets forward the theory of Single Attention and Associated Cognition in Autism (SAACA), an approach that explains autism in terms of the unique learning style of AS individuals. The SAACA approach suggests that whereas neurotypical people can easily shift their attention from one task to another, those on the autism spectrum tend to use just one sense at a time, leading to a deep, intense attention. From the perspective of this new approach, Wendy describes practical outcomes for individuals, families, and places of education and employment, and shows that when the unique learning style of AS is understood, valued, and accommodated, AS individuals can be empowered to achieve their fullest potential. This is a fascinating read for anyone with a personal or professional interest in the autism spectrum, including clinical practitioners, educators, researchers, individuals on the spectrum and their families, teachers, occupational therapists, and other professionals.

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Author information

Dr Wendy Lawson PhD received her diagnosis of autism spectrum at the age of 40. As a writer, poet and adult educator, Wendy is well known in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres, and was awarded fourth place in the 'Australian of the Year' awards in 2008. Becoming a psychologist and sharing her knowledge, understanding and experience of life, including of autism and Asperger's diff-abilities, is an ongoing journey that Wendy welcomes. Wendy has written many books and numerous papers on the topic of the autism spectrum, and currently works as a writer, researcher, adult educator, and sessional lecturer at a number of universities, including Melbourne University, and as a distance education tutor for The University of Birmingham, in the UK.

Table of contents

Acknowledgements. Foreword by Professor Rita Jordan.; 1. What is autism? Introduction. The reasons for writing this book. What to expect in this text. Autism is.; 2. The Autism Spectrum (AS): Where we are to date. Introduction. Definition of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs). Transition. Prevalence and Incidence. Gender differences and ratios in autism spectrum. Inclusion. Sensory differences. Summary.; 3. Consideration of cognitive theories of autism spectrum. Introduction. Cognition. Cognition and cognitive theory. Considering theory in autism spectrum. Attention and interest. Summary.; 4. Cognitive theory: Theory of mind (ToM). Introduction. Definition. Foundations for ToM. Components of ToM. Application of ToM to typical and AS development. Development of theory of mind. Difficulties with a rigid view of ToM development. The most noted test for theory of mind. ToM research over time. Questions concerning the theory of mind theory. Other potential questions. Summary.; 5. Cognitive theory: Executive functioning (EF) and autism spectrum. Introduction. Definition. Foundations for EF. Components of EF. Application of EF to both typical and AS development. Development of EF. Research over time. Executive functioning and theory of mind. Questions concerning EF and AS. Other questions and limitations of EF in AS. Summary.; 6. Cognitive theory: Weak central coherence (WCC) and autism spectrum. Introduction. Definition. Foundations for WCC. My big picture. Components of WCC theory. Cognitive Development Stream. Application of WCC in the typical and AS population. Research over time. Limitations of weak central coherence theory. Summary of weak central coherence theory. Summary.; 7. Cognitive theory: Enhanced perceptual functioning and autism (EPF). Introduction. Definition. Foundations for EPF theory. Components of EPF. Research over time. Questions concerning EPF. Comparison to ToM, EF and WCC theory. Limitations of EPF theory. Summary of EPF. Summary.; 8. The cognitive theory of single attention and associated cognition in autism (SAACA). Introduction. Definitions. Monotropism as a foundation for SAACA. Attention. Attention and Brain Configuration: Components for SAACA. Monotropism and the sensory system. Monotropism and interest. Attention, motivation and interest. Triad of impairments or product of monotropic attention. Senses, attention, interest and motivation. Monotropism, brain configuration, templates and learning style. Representation and organisation of understanding, learning and knowledge: by interest and attention. Complex cognitive skills coupled with interest and attention. The cognitive components of SAACA will now be explored in detail. SAACA: Monotropism and literality. SAACA: Monotropism and thinking in closed concepts. SAACA: Monotropism and the lack of ability to generalise. SAACA: Monotropism, context and scale. SAACA: Monotropism: timing and sequencing. SAACA: Monotropism and the product of non social priorities. SAACA: Monotropism: prediction and forward thinking. Summary.; 9. Assumptions of SAACA. Introduction. SAACA spelt out in everyday experiences for AS individuals. More examples of SAACA in everyday life when things change. The concept of time or timing is difficult for AS individuals. SAACA's explanation of why AS and typical perception are different. Case studies. Further examples from AS individuals. SAACA and literality. The washing. Taking too long in the shower. More examples. Wendy and the builder. Tracey goes to camp. Examples of problems with AS comprehension (if using a typical lens). What might it mean when a plan or expectation is not fulfilled? Problem solving ideas using SAACA. One family's story. Tom's strengths. Tom's difficulties. Why does Tom have these difficulties? Can we help Tom cope with change? When and how do we execute an intervention for Tom? What about generalising Tom's learnings? Reasoning behind using IT, visuals and structure. Just to reiterate earlier concepts of SAACA. A Summary of the attributes connected to monotropism (SAACA). Summary of ideas and outcomes. Typical parenting and typical development. Polytropism (as in typical development) and its cognitive attributes are briefly summarised. SAACA summary.; 10. Conclusions and ideas for now and the future. Introduction. Working and living with AS individuals. Differently configured brains respond differently to life experiences. Experiments or methods to refute or support SAACA. It's not in the interests of us all. More ideas for further research. Limitations of SAACA. References. Appendices. Appendix A. Appendix B. Appendix C. Appendix D. Appendix E. References. Index.