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Unorthodox Theories of Autism Are Wrong and Inhuman

<p>At the end of the 1970s, Wing and Gould (1979) identified clusters of features that, combined, they considered to be diagnostic of autism: deficits in social interaction (aloofness, indifference, passivity, and “odd” interactions), in communication (no language or deviant language, including repetitive, stereotypical, or echoed speech), or in imagination (an inability to engage in pretend play, rigid or ritualistic thought and behavior). This triad of features rationalized the diagnosis of autism. Children with the features described by Wing and Gould were previously diagnosed as psychotic, schizophrenic, or having schizoid personality disorder but were gradually coming to be diagnosed as autistic.</p> <p>This rationalization of diagnosis was important and provided a rich theoretical framework to study and understand autism. In particular, describing the distinctive nature of autism simplified investigation of the precise biological and cognitive abnormalities underlying autism. Genetic or neurodevelopmental problems were widely assumed to cause these abnormalities.</p> <p>In Defeating Autism: A Damaging Delusion , Michael Fitzpatrick describes how the unorthodox biomedical movement, both in Britain and the United States, “seeks to redefine autism as an epidemic disease caused by vaccines or some other, as yet unidentified, environmental factor” (p. xv). In Fitzpatrick’s view, this movement is disastrous for http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png PsycCRITIQUES PsycCRITIQUES®

Unorthodox Theories of Autism Are Wrong and Inhuman

Abstract

<p>At the end of the 1970s, Wing and Gould (1979) identified clusters of features that, combined, they considered to be diagnostic of autism: deficits in social interaction (aloofness, indifference, passivity, and “odd” interactions), in communication (no language or deviant language, including repetitive, stereotypical, or echoed speech), or in imagination (an inability to engage in pretend play, rigid or ritualistic thought and behavior). This triad of features rationalized the diagnosis of autism. Children with the features described by Wing and Gould were previously diagnosed as psychotic, schizophrenic, or having schizoid personality disorder but were gradually coming to be diagnosed as autistic.</p> <p>This rationalization of diagnosis was important and provided a rich theoretical framework to study and understand autism. In particular, describing the distinctive nature of autism simplified investigation of the precise biological and cognitive abnormalities underlying autism. Genetic or neurodevelopmental problems were widely assumed to cause these abnormalities.</p> <p>In Defeating Autism: A Damaging Delusion , Michael Fitzpatrick describes how the unorthodox biomedical movement, both in Britain and the United States, “seeks to redefine autism as an epidemic disease caused by vaccines or some other, as yet unidentified, environmental factor” (p. xv). In Fitzpatrick’s view, this movement is disastrous for
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