CLARA Park, a pioneering American autism campaigner, author and teacher, best known for two books, The Siege and Exiting Nirvana, in which she described raising her daughter Jessica, has died at a nursing home in Williamstown, Massachusetts. She was 86.
Park was one of the first parents to have the courage to share her experiences with others and, through her books, provided families and professionals with a greater understanding of what it can be like to bring up a child with autism.
The Siege was published in 1967, when little was understood about autism, a developmental disability that affects how a person communicates with, and relates to, other people and how they make sense of the world around them. The common thinking at that time was based on the arguments of child psychologist Bruno Bettelheim, who advocated the idea that autism arose when mothers withheld affection, and of Leo Kanner, whose ”refrigerator mother” theory proposed that a cold and distant mother was central to a child’s autism.
Read more here: Affected mother helped other parents come to grips with autistic children.
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