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Autism

  • By: Anna Karin Kingston
  • In: Encyclopedia of Motherhood
  • Edited by: Andrea O'Reilly
  • Subject:Sociology of Gender, Parenting, Maternal Health

The complex neurological disorder autism, or autistic spectrum disorders (ASD) as it is most commonly known today, has been a cause for mother blame since the early 1940s. In the early days, professionals blamed mothers for lacking warmth and thereby contributing to children's lack of social reciprocity. Despite modern scientific knowledge, mothers of children with autism are still struggling to prove themselves guilt-free in the eyes of both professionals and society as a whole.

It was in 1943 that Dr. Leo Kanner, an Austrian-born child psychiatrist, first identified a unique group of children at his clinic at Johns Hopkins University in the United States. These children presented similar behaviors, such as failing to develop normal social relationships and being upset by changes in the environment; they ...

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