Executive dysfunction: An even more convincing account for the deficits in autism other than "theory of mind"

Yan Grace LAM

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that has been well-documented in literature of education, psychology, and psychiatry. The cardinal features of autism include qualitative impairments in language and social interaction, as well as inflexible thoughts and behaviours (APA, 1994). Baron-Cohen, Leslie, and Frith (1985) proposed the postulation that people with autism do not understand mental states because they do not have a "theory of mind" as normal people do. However, as more and more studies yielded compelling evidence that autism is biologically-rooted, attempts to explain autism in terms of disrupted brain function have emerged. Among these is the postulation that defining features of autism could be accommodated by a relatively parsimonious account of impaired executive function. In this paper, this influential theory is explored, and its implications discussed drawing relevance to the ECE context.
自閉症是一種神經發展失常,在教育、心理學和精神醫學等範疇均對此有既廣泛亦深入之研究。自閉症的主要症狀包括語言及社交上質素的缺損,和刻板、欠缺彈性的思維 (APA, 1994)。Baron-Cohen、Leslie和Frith (1985) 提出「心智解讀缺損」的理論,認為自閉症患者不能理解別人的想法,是因為欠缺一般人都有的心智解讀能力。可是當愈來愈多的研究發現自閉症的病因很可能源自生理的缺陷,學者開始深入研究自閉症患者腦部結構的異常。其中最廣為學界所接受的是「執行功能失效」理論。本文對此理論作出深入並批判性的剖析,同時探究此理論及相關研究的發現,能如何幫助幼兒教育者輔導自閉症兒童。 Copyright © 2007 The Hong Kong Institute of Education.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16-24
JournalHong Kong Journal of Early Childhood
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - May 2007


Theory of Mind
Autistic Disorder
Executive Function
Interpersonal Relations


Lam, Y. G. (2007). Executive dysfunction: An even more convincing account for the deficits in autism other than "theory of mind". Hong Kong Journal of Early Childhood, 6(1), 16-24.


  • Alt. title: 「執行功能失效」:比「心智解讀缺損」更有效解說自閉症症狀的理論