conceptualised both phantasy and reality. Children who could use
language to describe their conceptual ‘worlds’ were
prized objects at the psychoticclinic because they provided the
most direct access to this inner reality. The experiences of child
‘psychotics’ that Maudsley nurses began to document
were unique because they described children’s thought
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.
-four cases seen by Anthony and Cameron at the
psychoticclinic (cases the Wings now classed as autistic), they
found that 37 per cent had a ‘nuclear’ form that did
not affect their intelligence at all. 45 They argued that the discovery
of ‘autism’ in a child ‘gives rise to problems
of treatment, education and management different to those found in
other psychiatric disorders of
an evaluation centre for schools.
Both the Maudsley Hospital and the Tavistock Clinic then began to
achieve a higher level of autonomy in the research they conducted
and the cases they received. In 1946, John Bowlby was appointed to
head the Child Department of the Tavistock, the same year that the
institution came under the auspices of the NHS and expanded its
goals. 69 Both the Tavistock and the
Maudsley Hospital sought to distance themselves from older forms of
asylum care for adults and to develop new treatments for adults.
Nevertheless, the clinics were soon inundated with child referrals.
By 1935, the Maudsley was treating around 839 child cases per year,
almost ten times its initial 1924 caseload. 70 In 1938, the Tavistock clinic
Children referred to the autism clinic at the
Maudsley were tested using a selection of developmental indices and
intelligence tests, which would take up to four hours, in which
psychologists aimed to get a thorough understanding of the
child’s cognitive capacities. After the 1970 Acts that
expanded education for all, children were no longer considered
Perceiving, describing and modelling child development
carpet, they had not disappeared and would later
re-emerge in new forms.
Chapter 3 looks in detail at a
unique children’s ‘psychoticclinic’ set up in
London at the Maudsley Hospital in the 1950s. It argues that this clinic
was unique in its critical outlook and patient population and bucked the
trend of uniting political and psychological aims when thinking about