Seeing the Spectrum: A New History of Autism by Steven Shapin

When autism was first discovered as a mental condition, it was blamed on the parents who were supposedly withholding their affection from their children. This turned out to be false. This is important for educators because throughout the history of the existence of autism as a defined mental condition there were a lot of myths surrounding the condition. Educators need to know that these are myths and not facts. They also need to know the evolution of autism because different people on various parts of the spectrum have different wants and needs. For example, some people with a form of high functioning autism want to do away with the programs for treatment and a “cure” because then it is implied that it is bad to be autistic, whereas parents and family members of people with low functioning autism want such programs for their loved ones who may need them.


As for Foucault’s argument, I really do not know a lot about conditions such as autism, social anxiety, and depression nor about how prevalent these diagnoses are except that autism is not that prevalent according to the article’s statistics. I also do not know much about the psychiatric and pharmaceutical operations either. However, I do know that there is a profit motive for people to be diagnosed to a certain extent. Does this mean that psychiatrists are working in tandem with pharmaceutical companies to misdiagnose people for profit and control of the minds? I doubt it. There are cases of fraud as the article pointed out with the example of the Facilitated Communication therapy for people with autism, but, for the most part, defining the disease and diagnosis is tricky. Sometimes psychiatrists and the profession get it wrong. Just like when they thought autism was caused from a lack of affection from parents.

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