Uta Frith's Autism: Explaining The Enigma

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The term mindblindness originates from Uta Frith, mentioned in her book Autism: Explaining the Enigma. She describes mindblindness as the inability to know what another person is thinking or feeling based on factors like tone of voice, facial expression, other non-verbal queues, etc. Frith (2003, p. 77) calls the ability to use these factors “mentalizing”. The condition is theorized to be the source of many difficulties for autistic individuals. Mindblindness is the most inhibiting factor of verbal communication for autistic individuals, due to the prominence of mentalizing in everyday conversation. Everyday conversation relies heavily upon inferences of emotions, opinions, and perceptions that allow the conversation to progress. For example, the greeting “How’s it going?” is rarely answered with anything other than “good”. However, it is often the tone of the response, not to the response itself, which communicates the true answer. A person may answer “good”, but actually be feeling quite down on that particular day. It is then…show more content…
This, of course, depends on the severity and type of autism the individual has, but in general, improvement is made over time (Frith, 2003, p. 94). However, attributing emotional states to others tends to be problematic, even in later years, without explicit, specific evidence, such as crying for sadness. In The Siege, Clara Park (1967) states that Elly could not understand that her sister would be upset if Elly damaged her book. Temple Grandin (2006) had a similar experience, much later in life, when she commented on poor welding quality in the presence the workers who welded the equipment. Her boss was forced to make her aware of the effects of her critical comments, and she later apologized to the workers. However, it never occurred to her that she might have offended the workers without the intervention of her

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