Since to further outline strengths and weaknesses

Since it was first
identified as a distinct disorder by Leo Kanner (1943), Autism has become increasingly researched, theorised and
diagnosed.  Both psychological and
physiological understanding has developed over the years and in doing so has produced
various theories attributed to the explanation of the causes, diagnosis and
treatment or support of those with Autistic Spectrum Disorders.

This essay will critically analyse the Empathising
Systemising theory as identified by Baron-Cohen in 2009. In order to do so, this
essay will outline the historical development of Autism research and theories
and how these have impacted professionals and individuals over the years. It
will also outline current policies, practices and documents of importance to
those working in the field of ASD or those affected by ASD. It will outline the
development and main features of ES theory and its strengths in explaining
observable features and behaviours of ASD while also identifying areas of
weakness in its theoretical explanations. Further empirical research relating
to ES will be examined and discussed in order to further outline strengths and
weaknesses of the theory and its relevance and usefulness in discussing ASD and
within a professional working context. The author will critically examine the
theory in relation to the observed behaviours and characteristics of a known
individual, Case Study A. To conclude, there will be a summary of strengths and
weaknesses of the ES Theory and its usefulness and appropriateness in supporting
those with ASD in a professional context.

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Leo Kanner introduced his initial description of ‘infantile
autism? in his 1943 paper entitled, Autistic Disturbances of Affective Contact,
which went on to become a classic in the field of clinical psychiatry. Around
the same time, in 1944, Austrian paediatrician and professor, Hans Asperger
described a very similar disorder in his research, Autistic Psychopathy in
Childhood (INSERT RFERENCE). Both Kanner’s and
Asperger’s descriptions contained similarities in their observations and
discussed similar behaviours in their case studies which can now be identified
within the triad of impairments (social communication, interaction and
imagination). Unlike Kanner’s autism, Asperger described extraordinary
abilities in mathematics and relative strengths in some communicative skills.
Whereas Kanner described autism as having qualitative impairments in
communication, Asperger told of children speaking like “little adults, although
in a rigid, stereotyped fashion.” He described the same deficits of social
interaction, and stereotyped behaviour as Kanner but because it was not
translated into English, it was not widely published or introduced to the
larger medical community until 1981 when Lorna Wing published a clinical
account of Aspergers (Wing, L. (1981). Asperger’s syndrome: A clinical account.
Psychological Medicine, 11, 115–129.). Wing noted that there was no evidence
that any qualitative differences existed between autism and Asperger’s disorder,
but her assertion was largely ignored (Sanders, 2009). Researchers have found
that when children with Asperger’s and children with autism are compared, lower
IQ is correlated to more autistic symptoms and social problems, but these
effects are cancelled when IQ is statistically removed. These researchers
suggest that autistic symptoms and social problems are attributable to IQ and
age, rather than a difference between Asperger’s and autism. This is consistent
with other research that suggests that differences between Autism Disorder and
High Functioning Autism diminish as children get older (Sanders, 2009).

In 1994 Aspergers was included in the DSM IV as a specific
diagnosis. Then in 2013 it was removed from the DSM V and is now included in
the general diagnosis of an Autism Spectrum Disorder. It has remained as a
diagnosis in the ICD 10. (DSM ICD Document ref here)

When diagnosing, researching and supporting individuals
with autism other disorders and or medical problems that could also lead to the
behaviours seen must be considered . Common comorbid difficulties include
intellectual disabilities, physical conditions, comorbid psychopathologies and
challenging behaviors. (matson goldin). Comorbidity can often cause diagnostic
issues for Autism as other underlying diagnosed issues can mask or hide
symptoms of Autism (REF). However, a comorbid disorder or illness can also
remain undiagnosed due to symptoms of Autism being more easily observed and
identifiable. The likelihood of ASD behaviours such as language impairment or
lack of cooperation could also result in unwillingness of medical professionals
to provide certain tests, assessments and screenings and therefore could result
in misdiagnosis of a comorbid illness. (Datlow Smith et al ref here)

Since the original publications by Kanner and Asperger,
there has been much further research and discussion of both affective and
cognitive theories to explain the intricacies of autism. Many of these theories
have shaped the diagnostic criteria and therefore statistics on the prevalence of
Autism. Current prevalence rates are estimated to be around 1% (INSERT
REFERENCE HERE). It is worth noting that prevalence rates could be affected by
diagnostic issues relating to comorbidity and misdiagnosis, as discussed
previously. Policy and legislative documents have also been produced as a
result of increased research, understanding and identification of autism as an
increasingly diagnosed condition such as the Scottish Strategy for Autism, the Education
(Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004, the Autism Toolbox and
the SPICe Briefing. Some particularly prominent theories identified include
Weak Central Coherance (INSERT SEMINAL REFERENCE) , Emotional Deficit(INSERT
SEMINAL REFERENCE) , Theory of Mind (INSERT SEMINAL REFERENCE)  and Empathising-Systemising (INSERT SEMINAL
REFERENCE).