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Understanding Autism:
Parents, Doctors, and the History of a Disorder
Chloe Silverman

Book Description | Table of Contents
Introduction [in PDF format]


"Silverman's book presents a vivid picture of the ongoing and somewhat dialectical (in the Hegelian sense) relationship between parents of autistic children and professionals who specialize in autism."--W. R. Albury, Bulletin of the History of Medicine

"Understanding Autism provides a much-needed and thorough history of autism. In addition, it makes a convincing case for incorporating affective relationships into science and technology studies and our understandings of the foundational elements of expertise. At moments in the book, however, the tension between affect and science are incompletely resolved. These moments of tension will likely prove elucidating in future research."--Marissa King, American Journal of Sociology


"Too few books tell the history of autism. Chloe Silverman bravely takes this on, without avoiding the difficult eras in this history. Sensitively exploring Bruno Bettelheim and Andrew Wakefield's involvement, while skillfully painting the evolution of modern genetic theory, Silverman describes even the more controversial treatments with a sense of balance and calm. Her book unearths new insights."--Simon Baron-Cohen, University of Cambridge

"This fascinating book combines historical perspective with ethnographic investigation of the grassroots autism movement. What unites past and present is the unwavering power of parents to influence the dizzying array of theories, practices, and interventions that have been advanced in response to the challenges posed by autistic children. Parental love and labor, long overshadowed by scientific discovery and professional authority, finally take center stage. Silverman makes a persuasive case for the interdependence of affect and objectivity in autism's dramatic narrative."--Ellen Herman, University of Oregon

"This timely book traces the history of autism as a diagnostic category, the various ways that researchers, practitioners, and parent activists have interpreted and acted upon autism, and some of the current controversies surrounding this contested diagnosis. With sensitivity and respect, Silverman makes a significant contribution by addressing seriously the role of love in the production of scientific knowledge, the practice of biomedicine, and the advocacy and research of parents."--Gail H. Landsman, author of Reconstructing Motherhood and Disability in the Age of "Perfect" Babies

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File created: 4/24/2017

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