You are not currently logged in. Please create an account or log in to view the full course.

Cognition and Development – Autism

1. What Is Autism?

This is the course trailer. Please create an account or log in to view this lecture.

  • Description
  • Cite
  • Image Credits

About this Lecture


In this lecture, we think about what autism is and how it has been understood by researchers and medical professionals over the past century, focusing in particular on: (i) the current definition of autism as a developmental disorder in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5); (ii) Wing and Gould’s (1978) influential description of autism as a ‘triad of impairments’ encompassing impaired imagination, impaired communication and restricted interests; (iii) the work of Leo Kanner and Hans Asperger, two influential clinicians who first defined and diagnosed the condition of autism in the 1940s; (iv) the prevalence of autism among the general population; (v) some thoughts on the need for society to adapt to those of its members who have the condition of autism.


In this course, Professor Peter Mitchell (University of Nottingham) explores the condition of autism. In the first lecture, we think about what autism is. In the second lecture, we examine the causes of autism. In the third lecture, we look at the question ‘Can autism be cured?’. Next, we consider whether autism is an affective or a cognitive condition. In the fifth lecture, we think about different cognitive theories of autism. In the sixth and final lecture, we take a closer look at a specific cognitive theory of autism, known as the theory of ‘weak central coherence’.


Peter Mitchell is Professor and Director of Studies in Psychology at the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus. Previously, he was head of the School of Psychology on the University of Nottingham’s UK campus. He has published six books and is editor of the British Journal of Psychology. Professor Mitchell has served as Chair of the Developmental Section of the British Psychological Society and as Chief Examiner for the Economic and Social Research Council UK PhD studentship competition. Some of Professor Mitchell’s recent publications include ‘Autism and the double empathy problem: Implications for development and mental health’ (2020) and ‘Do neurotypical people like or dislike autistic people?’ (2021).

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Mitchell, P. (2020, February 20). Cognition and Development – Autism - What Is Autism? [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Mitchell, P. "Cognition and Development – Autism – What Is Autism?." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 20 Feb 2020,

Image Credits

"Magnifying glass" vector created by katemangostar -