History of Autism Treatment: An Introduction

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Dr. James Coplan posted a quick introduction to the history of autism treatment, excluding the horrific past treatments of isolation, incarceration, and forced confinement.  Instead, he's focusing on the history of the current treatment, or the roots of what we now know as ABA, or various other proven treatments for Autism. 

With psychologists and psychiatrists being so common and almost cliche in our culture, it's odd to think that the study of the mind beyond philosophy was never taken seriously, even 150 years ago.  Instead you had mentalists like Franz Mesmer who invented hypnotism (and from whence we get the word mesmerized) who were performers, not scientists (or at least not what we would imagine to be scientists).  It wasn't until the turn of the century when you get Freud, Catteil and Binet, Spearman and Pearson, and others who start to take the study of the mind into the realms of scientific study, testing, and observation.

As the new science we know as psychology starts to develop, we see two branches emerge:  Behavioral Psychology and Holistic Psychology.  Behavioral psychology focuses on addressing the behavior, and from that steps the Applied Behavior Analysis therapy.  Behavioral Psychology was pioneered by E. L. Watson and J. B. Thorndike, who trained B. F. Skinner, who in turn trained the late Ivar Lovaas, the father of ABA. 

Holistic psychology focuses on more than just behavior, but rather intention, consciousness, emotion, etc. as part of the whole subject of psychologists, and therefore should be placed on the same level as behavior.  The idea being that if you break down the brain and brain experience into it's parts, you are missing out on the whole.  It was pioneered by Professor William James.

All this is covered in Dr. Coplan's article, but I find I fascinating to learn about the history of treatment, and where it is heading.  I'm looking forward to more posts, and in the mean time continue to search for digital copies of the works of Watson, Thorndike, and James for additional reading.