New Theories of Autism: Hyper-Systemizing and Assortative Mating

Simon Baron-Cohen, PhD, MPhil


December 29, 2005

In This Article


The autistic spectrum comprises 4 subgroups: Asperger syndrome (AS)[1,2,3] and high-, medium-, and low- functioning autism.[4] These subgroups all share the phenotype of social difficulties and obsessional interests.[5] In AS, the individual demonstrates normal or above-average IQ and no language delay. In the 3 autism subgroups, invariably some degree of language delay exists, and the level of functioning is indexed by overall IQ. These 4 subgroups are known as autism spectrum conditions (ASC).

Expert consensus maintains that ASC are genetic in etiology,[6] and altered brain development[7,8,9,10] in turn affects social and communication development and leads to unusual narrow interests and extreme repetitive behavior.[5] The model we can use involves multiple levels (Figure). This column elaborates on the 2 new ideas: hyper-systemizing and assortative mating (shown in bold in the model).

Multi-level model of autism spectrum conditions.


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