Parental voices and controversies in autism

Langan, Mary (2011). Parental voices and controversies in autism. Disability & Society, 26(2) pp. 193–205.



Parents of children with autism have played a prominent role in controversies surrounding this condition. Parental voices were critical in challenging the ‘refrigerator mother’ theory and more recently have attracted public attention for claims that autism may be caused by childhood vaccinations and that ‘unorthodox biomedical’ treatments may enable some children to ‘recover’ from autism. Over the past decade, some parents have rejected this approach, making common cause with people with conditions on the autistic spectrum who repudiate the quest for treatments and ‘cures’. Through a study of parental accounts, this paper examines how parental voices have contributed to the evolving official discourse around autism as well as to public awareness of the condition.

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