First and foremost, I would like to thank the Wellcome
Trust for generously funding my research on the history of autism, and for
enabling this book to exist. I would also like to thank all of the people
who have supported the development of my work on child psychology and
autism. This book emerged out of ideas that first came to my mind whilst
conducting my PhD research on the history of child psychiatry at Cambridge.
Professor John Forrester (1949–2015) was a wonderful PhD supervisor
and a constant champion of, and inspiration for, my work. His encyclopaedic
knowledge of the history and philosophy of science helped me to frame my own
historical approach and encouraged me to enquire deeper into conceptual
history than I had previously planned. Dr Rhodri Hayward, likewise, has been
a fantastic mentor who has enabled me to develop a profound understanding of
psychological concepts in history whilst simultaneously encouraging me to
develop a strong historical grounding to my work. His comments on the first
draft were tremendously helpful and without them, the book would have been a
much lesser entity. I would also like to thank Professor Nikolas Rose for
examining my PhD, and for his support, comments and advice since then.
Thanks also to all the people who have read and engaged with the ideas in
the book at various stages and offered advice, in particular Professor
German Berrios, Dr Deborah Thom, Professor Edgar Jones, Dr Rob Kirk,
Professor Stuart Murray, Dr Stephen Casper, Dr Signe Nipper-Nielson, Dr Iris
Montero, and the anonymous reviewers of the manuscript.
I would also like to give a special thanks to all those
who agreed to be interviewed and those who assisted with enabling access to
archival material. In particular, I am grateful to Professor Sir Michael
Rutter, Professor Patrick Bolton and all the staff at the Social, Genetic
and Developmental Psychiatry Centre, as well as to Uta Frith for her
interview and for donating her archive. My thanks also to the staff of the
UK National Archives, King’s College London Archives, Bethlem Museum
of the Mind, Wellcome Trust Archives, the National Autistic Society and the
Royal Society Archives.
I would also like to thank everyone else who has
supported and encouraged me in this project, particularly Janet Evans, Dr
Chitra Sebastianpillai, Joanna Whitehouse, Barbara Chu and Professor David
Grahame Shane. Finally, I express my deepest gratitude to Rajiv Pillai, and
our son, Ashan Evans, for inspiring me every day that I wrote this book.
Autism is an essential concept used in the description of child development and its variances. This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book traces the radical transformation of the concept of autism in Britain, exploring the reasons behind the shift and the impact that it has had on psychological sciences relating to infants and children. It locates changes in psychological theory in Britain in relation to larger shifts in the political and social organisation of schools, hospitals, families and childcare. The book explores how government entities have dealt with the psychological category of autism. The history of child psychology in Britain has largely been compartmentalised into the history of child guidance, the history of intelligence testing, the history of special education and the history of psychoanalytic theory.