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Understanding Autism: Parents, Doctors, and the History of a Disorder Hardcover – Nov 27 2011


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Amazon.com: 1 review
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
sometimes difficult to read, but essential information Feb. 27 2012
By the guy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I am a biomedical researcher interested in autism. As a bench scientist, sometimes I think I operate too much in a vacuum. What I mean is that we do research without understanding how ideas evolved over time. As somebody who is totally ignorant of history of autism, the book did a fine job of introducing major characters and ideas about autism. Another reason I have read the book is that it was featured in science magazine [...]

The book starts by giving a brief history of how autism came to be diagnosed mentioning Leo Kanner and Hans Asperger's classical papers. From here moves into pyschogenic theory and Bruno Battelheim's Orthogenic school in Chicago. Continues with scientists discrediting Battelherim's ideas and the field moving into more parental involvement especially with Dr. Ivaar Lovaas's applied behavior analysis or ABA. Next chapter deals with failed promise of autism genetics. Then in final two chapters we see parents as main actors in either trying alternative biomedical treatments or in advocating potential involvement of vaccines in causing autism.

I think the weakest point of the book for me was the book's claim about using love as an analytical tool. To be honest, I still do not understand what the author means by that. Does it mean examining how love affects the biomedical researchers, parents and doctors operate? Maybe. Very nice thing about the book however is that it carefully avoids taking sides in many contraversial issues such as vaccine debate and advocates of autism with autism diagnoises themselves. Although I assure you that the book does not take sides, I finished book thinking that there could possiblity be a link between vaccines and certain autism types. This would be something I will research more in the future.

Finally I felt like the book was disorganized sometimes with regard to timelines and topics discussed. I could hardly get through the introduction chapter which was very difficult to read because of writing style. The book was also very weak when it comes to providing in debt information about autism symptoms and autistic behavior in general. Still it provided lots of useful information for me and could be my reference book for the future. However, I wouldn't recommend this book to somebody with a lot of background in autism.


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