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A history of child development in Britain
Author: 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)
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

in The metamorphosis of autism
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

in The metamorphosis of autism
Dolto and the psychoanalytic approach to autism in France
Richard Bates

In 2004, the European Committee of Social Rights, part of the Council of Europe, ruled that France’s provisions for autistic people were inadequate. The committee upheld a complaint brought by an autism rights association, Autism Europe, concluding that France had failed to uphold the rights of disabled children to adequate levels of care, assistance, education and training, as enshrined in the European Social Charter. 1 Provisions for autistic children in France had such a bad reputation that thousands of

in Psychoanalysis and the family in twentieth-century France
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

in The metamorphosis of autism
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

in The metamorphosis of autism
Open Access (free)
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

in The metamorphosis of autism
Open Access (free)
Perceiving, describing and modelling child development
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

in The metamorphosis of autism
Françoise Dolto and her legacy
Author: Richard Bates

In Psychoanalysis and the family, Richard Bates reveals the striking range and extent of the influence of Françoise Dolto (1908–88) – child psychoanalyst and France’s leading authority on parenting and family dynamics from the 1970s onwards.

Against the backdrop of rapid economic, social and cultural change, Dolto emerged as a new, reassuring, national presence. Seen as a national treasure, her views proved influential on a wide range of issues linked to psychology, parenting, education, gender, sexuality, bioethics and children’s culture and rights. Dolto claimed the mantle of a progressive, innovative expert who swept away outdated concepts – but Bates demonstrates that her ideas in fact had deep roots in right-wing, anti-feminist currents. Dolto used her media platforms and the cultural authority of psychoanalysis to ensure that her psychoanalytic vision affected the whole French nation and was implanted in a variety of institutional settings. Bates shows how her vision had lasting repercussions, in areas ranging from the treatment of autism to the organisation of children’s centres.

In demonstrating Dolto’s importance, this highly original, thoroughly researched book makes an essential contribution to historical understanding of twentieth-century French society. It forces a reassessment of the place of psychoanalysis in French social history, showing that its true significance lay well beyond the academic seminar or the consulting room.

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

in The metamorphosis of autism