Non-Fiction Books:

Autistic States in Children


Paperback / softback

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Autistic States in Children by Frances Tustin

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If the care of autistic children is to be humane, it needs to be based on a deep understanding of what lies behind their strange behaviour and their impassive faces which mask intense states of terror. In Autistic States in Children Frances Tustin gives the reader an insight into this terror, and the children's attempts to shelter from it. This is done in an unsentimental way so that the children can be understood with compassion, but also with down-to-earth common sense. The book was written out of the author's concern to combat simplistic, non-insightful methods of treatment which, if carried to extremes, can lead to inhumane behaviour towards these basically terrified, but very frustrating children. In the first edition of Autistic States in Children n Frances Tustin made a convincing, if contoversial case for the widespread existence of psychogenic forms of autims which are most appropirately treated by psychotherapeutic methods, rather than behavioural techniques. Since the book was published, her findings have gained ground and there are now several clinics in America and Europe where work is based on her ideas. However, observations of early infancy by such researchers as Daniel Stern in the USA and Ian Trevarthen in Britain, together with her own clinical observations, have led the author to revise her understanding of the aetiology of psychogenic autism. She now sees this state as an early developmental deviation in the service of dealing with unmitigated terror, rather than as a regression to a stage of normal primary autism. For this reason she has fully revised the original text, retaining the bulk of the invaluable clinical material, but setting it in a rather different theoretical context and taking account of the latest research findings. Besides a new chapter on these theoretical issues, the author has also taken the opportunity of adding an opening chapter describing in detail the sort of children the book is about which will be particularly helpful to anyone just beginning to work with such children.
Release date NZ
August 27th, 1992
Country of Publication
United Kingdom
2nd New edition
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