Psychologists have been concerned with attempts to describe autism at the cognitive level for more than 30 years. These attempts can be organised into three categories of psychological model: primary deficit models, developmental accounts, information processing models. This chapter reviews how psychological theory has shifted attitudes to autism, including the important question of autistic people’s perceptions of the theoretical models. One of the most marked distinctions between the academic literature and accounts of autism in the mainstream media is the prominence given to theories which have grouped under the umbrella of “information processing”. The influence of information processing models is also apparent in representations of autism in TV and film, where sensory sensitivities, learning disability and ‘systemising’ type skills are often apparent. Social models of autism, and of disability more generally, offer a positive way to conceptualise autism, important for public awareness and understanding.