The purpose of this essay is to illustrate how the phenomenon of early childhood autism may cast light on issues that are central to our Understanding Of Normal Child Development - Issues Such As The Emotional origins of social experience and social understanding, the contribution of interpersonal relations to the genesis of symbolism and creative thought, and the role of intersubjectivity in the development of self. Drawing upon philosophical writings as well as empirical research on autism, the author challenges the individualistic and cognitive bias of much developmental psychology, and argues that early human development is founded upon a normal infant's capacity for distinct forms of "I - Thou" and "I - It" relatedness. To a large degree, autism may represent the psycho-pathological sequelae to biologically-based incapacities for social perception and interpersonal engagement.
Table of Contents
Preface. Prolegomena. The Picture of Autism. Interpersonal Relatedness I: The Normal Infant. Interpersonal Relatedness II: The Case of Autism. The Growth of Interpersonal Understanding. Conceptual Issues I: On Understanding Minds. Conceptual Issues II: On Thought and Language. Thought and Language: The Case of Autism. The Development of Mind and the Case of Autism.
...the author presents a new and intriguing theory of human development...This book requires attention from all those interested in the theoretical basis of normal child development and especially those who also have an interest in autism...this is a valuable and thought provoking account. It challenges contemporary theories of child psychology and is sure to stimulate further discussion in the literature. - John Swettenham, Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry
This is a very important book. Researchers who study the social perception and cognition of typical children often make reference to children with autism, and researchers who study children with autism often make reference to typical children. But this is the first major attempt to address these very important issues across the two populations systematically. It is now the definitive work in the area.... a wonderful book. It is one of the more insightful analyses in the newly emerging area of study concerned with how children understand their social worlds and the many ramifications that this understanding has for their cognitive and social lives. And the author's first hand knowledge of autistic children gives it a unique flavor. It will be the jumping off point for all future analyses. - Michael Tomasello, Associate Professor at Emory University, Atlanta