The Science and Fiction of Autism

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9780674019317: The Science and Fiction of Autism
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Autism is a complex and incurable constellation of bizarre behaviors, impaired cognition, limited language, and most distressingly, a lack of responsiveness to other people, and it has been the center of impassioned debates for decades. What is it? What causes it? How can it be treated?

In The Science and Fiction of Autism, one of the country's leading experts in behavioral treatments approaches autism through the context of its controversies, showing where extraordinary and unfounded claims have falsely raised hopes, stirred fears, and ruined lives. Arguing that autism is an entirely biological disorder, however complex its neurological origins, Laura Schreibman lays waste to the beliefs that it is caused by "refrigerator mothers" or the MMR vaccine, as well as to the simplistic claims that it can be cured by a variety of unsubstantiated treatments.

Drawing from her own long clinical experience with autistic children and their parents, Schreibman arms her readers--students, educators, psychologists, and parents alike--with information and arguments to deal with the onslaught of good, bad, deficient, and irrelevant ideas about autism.

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About the Author:

Laura Schreibman is Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Director of the Autism Research Program at the University of California at San Diego.

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The field of autism is littered with the debris of dead ends, crushed hoes, ineffective treatments, and false starts. This has been frustrating and discouraging for everyone, including parents and professionals. . . . The field is susceptible to all sorts of false beliefs, snake-oil treatments, and potential 'cures' because we are dealing with a devastating disorder for which we have relatively few answers to date. Ignorance provides a vacuum that sucks in all kinds of ideas--some right, some irrelevant, some dead wrong, and some even harmful. . . . A voluminous stream of information about autism comes at us daily from magazine and newspaper articles, television, movies, and . . . the Internet. . . . One need not be a scientist in order to know how to evaluate information critically; one just needs to be appropriately critical. . . . Critical thinking empowers us to cut through all of the hype, dramatic claims, and wishful thinking. Sometimes the truth hurts (for example, finding out that a proposed cure is indeed bogus), but . . . the pursuit of fruitless avenues serves only to waste time, money, and emotional energy on theories that do not add up or cures that do not work. --From Chapter 1

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