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Title: Neuropsychological functioning and social communication in children excluded from primary school
Author: Parker, G.
Awarding Body: University of London
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2006
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Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are characterized by difficulties in reciprocal social interaction and communication, with restricted interests and stereotyped behaviours (ICD-10 criteria World Health Organisation, 1996). Many of the difficulties experienced by individuals with ASD have been attributed to deficits in mentalising- the ability to attribute mental states to oneself and others in order to explain and predict behaviour. This thesis begins by considering the contribution that advanced theory of mind tasks have made to our understanding of mentalising abilities in ASD. It is concluded that there is substantial evidence that even the highest functioning individuals experience difficulties with mentalising. However, further progressing our understanding of mentalising in ASD will require a number of methodological improvements- in particular, greater attention given to controlling the effects of IQ and executive functioning. The empirical paper draws on these methodological points and explores mentalising and other aspects of social cognition in children excluded, or at risk of exclusion, from primary schools. Previous research has suggested that a sub-group of these children may have unidentified ASD (Gilmour, Hill, Place, & Skuse, 2004). The current study assessed primary school children on a range of measures of social cognition, including theory of mind. Children excluded from school were significantly more likely to meet ICD-10 criteria for ASD than comparisons. Furthermore, they were significantly more likely than comparisons to show deficits in social cognition and mentalising similar to those documented in ASD. It is concluded that there is strong evidence for a sub-group of children excluded from school with unidentified ASD. The critical appraisal expands on the implications of these findings, focusing on the issues involved in screening for ASD, and reflecting on clinical issues raised by the research.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available