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A History of Autism: Conversations with the Pioneers



A History of Autism: Conversations with the Pioneers

Adam Feinstein

ISBN: 978-1-405-18653-7 July 2010 Wiley-Blackwell 398 Pages

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This unique book is the first to fully explore the history of autism - from the first descriptions of autistic-type behaviour to the present day.
  • Features in-depth discussions with leading professionals and pioneers to provide an unprecedented insight into the historical changes in the perception of autism and approaches to it
  • Presents carefully chosen case studies and the latest findings in the field
  • Includes evidence from many previously unpublished documents and illustrations
  • Interviews with parents of autistic children acknowledge the important contribution they have made to a more profound understanding of this enigmatic condition
Acknowledgments ix

Foreword by Dame Stephanie Shirley xv

Introduction 1

1 The Two Great Pioneers 9

2 The 1950s: The Seeds of Understanding 37

3 Blaming the Parents 54

4 The 1960s: The Parents Fight Back 76

5 The Two Teaching Pioneers 117

6 The 1970s: Major Steps Forward 139

7 Definition, Diagnosis, and Assessment: The History of the Tool 165

8 The 1980s and 1990s: Theories and Concepts 203

9 Autism in the Developing Nations 233

10 Where the Future Lies 265

Notes 298

Bibliography 339

Index 367

"Another fascinating book on autism. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in the subject: those that have a person with autism in their family, professionals and academics, and anyone in general. . . In my opinion, Feinstein has made a significant effort to be impartial, something that I am sure it has not been easy." (Iautism, 2011)

"This is a comprehensive history, charting thinking, practice and theories from the late 1930s to the present day . . . Recommended - a much-needed addition to the autism library." (Communication Magazine, 1 April 2011)

"Recommended. Graduate students, researchers, professionals." (Choice , 1 April 2011)

"Feinstein offers one of the first truly comprehensive overviews of the history of autism research...culminating with a discussion of the projected future of autism research. He interviewed dozens of researchers and prominent autistic people in several countries, in addition to consulting numerous primary sources to compile this authoritative text. Feinstein traces the condition from before it was known as autism through the present day, and in so doing, methodically dissects both the parental blame hysteria that gripped the 1980s and the explosion of autism awareness and controversy in the twenty-first century." (Asperger's Association of New England Journal, Fall/Winter 2010)"This is a much needed book on the history of autism. What sets this book apart from the others is the description of the hypotheses about the disorder back when Dr. Kanner and Dr. Asperger were first writing about their unique discoveries. It provides readers with a much needed understanding of the disorder from the past as well as the present." (Doody's, September 2010)

"This book is more than a collection of facts; it's also a detailed account of often-fierce controversy and professional rivalry....... Feinstein's book is a fascinating and indispensable record of the journey so far." (Special Children, 2010)


"In his History of Autism, Adam Feinstein has documented in an entertaining and yet exacting way, the evolving history of how our present-day ideas about autism reflect the personalities and interests of key individuals, who played critical roles in our understanding of this perplexing symptom complex. He has been to interview them, all over the world, and draws some fascinating responses to his questions. It is particularly pleasing that he managed to gather the material for his review before the most elderly among the pioneers passed away, as several have done within the past 2 or 3 years." (Brain: A Journal of Neurology, 2011)