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Monotropism: An Interest-Based Account of Autism

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Encyclopedia of Autism Spectrum Disorders


Attention tunnelling; Ecological model; Resource distribution


The idea of monotropism makes most sense in terms of a basic model which sees minds as made up of active interests shaped by their histories of paying attention in a world (and in an imagined world).

This interest model of mind is ecological, embodied, and exploratory. Instead of applying emotionally charged values to categorize humans, it offers a more objective way of thinking about autistic and other human variations: it does not pathologize them. This is not just semantics, current diagnostic practice stamps “Rejected!” on the core nature of a large part of the human race, with profound repercussions, as history relates if we attend to it.

The model was developed initially as an approach to relevance or salience, so it is about what matters to a person; it is about what you pay attention to and why. Interests in action retain – are formally changed by – information acquired as they proceed....

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Correspondence to Dinah Murray .

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Murray, D. (2020). Monotropism: An Interest-Based Account of Autism. In: Volkmar, F. (eds) Encyclopedia of Autism Spectrum Disorders. Springer, New York, NY.

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Chapter history

  1. Latest

    Monotropism: An Interest-Based Account of Autism
    12 March 2020


  2. Original

    Monotropism – An Interest Based Account of Autism
    06 April 2018