This is a series of posts I wrote after reading about several of the most prominent cognitive theories of autism, theories that seek to explain the traits of autism by pointing to differences in a person’s mind or brain. With each theory, I share some thoughts about the ways it makes sense or the ways it doesn’t.

Intro — The effort to find a theory to explain the outward characteristics of autism, and the consequences of a bad theory that used to be widely held.

Theory of Mind — Can the traits of autism be explained by a difficulty in inferring the mental states of others?

Executive function — Can the traits of autism be explained by difficulty with skills like planning, multitasking, and flexibility?

Weak central coherence — Can the traits of autism be explained by a focus on the specific rather than the general?

Extreme male brain — Can the traits of autism be explained by a brain that has developed in an extremely “male” way?

Sensory and perceptual issues — Can the traits of autism be explained as normal reactions to experiencing the world in a different way from most people?