This book explains the current fascination with autism by linking it to a longer history of childhood development. Drawing from a staggering array of primary sources, it traces autism back to its origins in the early twentieth century and explains why the idea of autism has always been controversial and why it experienced a 'metamorphosis' in the 1960s and 1970s. The book locates changes in psychological theory in Britain in relation to larger shifts in the political and social organisation of schools, hospitals, families and childcare. It explores how government entities have dealt with the psychological category of autism. The book looks in detail at a unique children's 'psychotic clinic' set up in London at the Maudsley Hospital in the 1950s. It investigates the crisis of government that developed regarding the number of 'psychotic' children who were entering the public domain when large long-stay institutions closed. The book focuses on how changes in the organisation of education and social services for all children in 1970 gave further support to the concept of autism that was being developed in London's Social Psychiatry Research Unit. It also explores how new techniques were developed to measure 'social impairment' in children in light of the Seebohm reforms of 1968 and other legal changes of the early 1970s. Finally, the book argues that epidemiological research on autism in the 1960s and 1970s pioneered at London's Institute of Psychiatry has come to define global attempts to analyse and understand what, exactly, autism is.
there were 3,113 centres and 1,417 ante-natal clinics. 66 These clinics
focused their attention on measuring means, norms and averages
within childhooddevelopment stages and intervening to support those
One important development with
regard to the uptake of the autism concept was the establishment of
clinics in Britain specifically catering for those with
the concepts of
hallucinations and delusions. She claimed that:
The relationship to schizophrenia of Asperger
syndrome, autism and similar impairments can be reconsidered.
Although they are dissimilar in family history, childhooddevelopment and clinical pictures, both groups of conditions affect
language, social interaction and imaginative activities. The time of