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The metamorphosis of autism

A history of child development in Britain

Series:

Bonnie Evans

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.

Open Access (free)

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Bonnie Evans

The first autism can only be understood in the context of the legal and institutional networks that enabled the spread of psychological theory as applied to infants and children in Britain in the early twentieth century. This chapter examines the integration of the concept of autism into psychological theory in Britain and the significance of

Open Access (free)

Series:

Bonnie Evans

The disruption of harmony Most people are aware of many controversies surrounding autism today, as well as those that abounded in the 1960s asserting the fault of mothers in causing the condition. Other major controversies have centred on the MMR vaccine and the use of mercury in vaccines. More recently, debates have exploded over whether autism

Open Access (free)

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Bonnie Evans

began to take shape. It is also within this new model that the concept of autism was adopted widely as a global category and an international model for thinking about individual children’s atypical development. In the same year that the Children’s Act was passed in Britain, the United Nations issued a Convention on the Rights of the Child. The 1989 Convention was unanimously

Open Access (free)

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Bonnie Evans

the development of subjectivity in infants and children. These new models built on Cyril Burt’s idea to use statistical analyses of populations in order to generate scientific proof for the development of conceptual awareness in children. Just as in all earlier theories of child development, these new theories of subjective development had the concept of autism at their core. One

Open Access (free)

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Bonnie Evans

‘statements’ that were so crucial to the expansion of the autism diagnosis from the 1980s to the 2000s, and replaced them with ‘Education, Health and Care Plans’ that cover not only educational provision but also health and social care support. This expansion of autism rights across multiple domains has since led to an increase in parental appeals against local authority services, as well as demands that

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Introduction

Perceiving, describing and modelling child development

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Bonnie Evans

Autism is an essential concept used in the description of child development and its variances. Yet the phenomenal success of autism diagnoses is relatively recent. Today, autistic spectrum disorder is regarded as a developmental condition with genetic and biochemical correlates that often persists into adulthood. In 2009, the Autism Act became the first ever ‘disability

Open Access (free)

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Bonnie Evans

child ‘maladjustment’. New models of child development built around the new autism concept would increasingly be used to present alternatives to this social model and to develop a new model of child development and the formation of relationships in children that supported new government policies aimed at correcting individual impairments rather than imposing an idealistic model

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Bonnie Evans

place between adult and child mental health practitioners about the relation between early development and adult mental illness. Winnicott’s ideas about the ‘true’ and ‘false’ self, in which a child could build up a ‘false’ sense of their identity, was developed at the same time, building on his theories of autism in children. The roots laid down by Bleuler and Freud

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MMR

Series:

Gareth Millward

threatened to dent confidence yet again. This time, the culprit was another trivalent vaccine – MMR. In 1998, Andrew Wakefield and colleagues published a paper in the medical journal The Lancet which alleged a possible link between MMR and a rare form of autism. While the journal itself took the unusual step of printing a repudiation alongside the paper, Wakefield used the press conference to launch the edition to claim that MMR was dangerous and parents should immediately seek separate measles, mumps and rubella vaccines until further safety testing had been completed