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Understanding AutismParents, Doctors, and the History of a Disorder$
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Chloe Silverman

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780691150468

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691150468.001.0001

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Expert Amateurs: Raising and Treating Children with Autism

Expert Amateurs: Raising and Treating Children with Autism

Chapter:
(p.93) 3 Expert Amateurs: Raising and Treating Children with Autism
Source:
Understanding Autism
Author(s):

Chloe Silverman

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691150468.003.0004

This chapter focuses on parents emerging from the experience of wide-ranging psychogenic theorizing about autism during the 1950s and 1960s, of which Bruno Bettelheim's work was but one well-known example. Parents' accounts of their work during a period when the diagnostic category of autism was in flux highlight their unique authority as caregivers and “amateur” therapists. These accounts of parents' treatment activities make clear that expert knowledge and private life have continually intersected in the families of autistic children. The chapter examines how love, through parental efforts to help their children by training themselves in treatment practices, has functioned as a form of practice or technique in interventions to address the syndrome of autism. In both the case of the Orthogenic School's milieu therapy and parental work in behavior modification techniques, the affective involvement of “semiprofessionals” was key to what was experienced as the success of the interventions.

Keywords:   parents, autism, caregivers, amateur therapists, parents, autistic children, love, treatment practices, behavior modification techniques, semiprofessionals

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