THE SIEGE by Clara Claiborne Park


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Very little is really known or has been written about the autistic child--that most ""undisturbed of disturbed children"" who lives hermetically sealed off from the world in a state of unresponsive isolation. (In the popular literature, Karin Junker's The Child in the Glass Ball-Abingdon-1964--an unextended personal experience; in the clinical field, a new book by Bruno Bettelheim). Towards the end of this book which deals with Mrs. Park's first years with Elly, her fourth child, she makes the point that parents need as much help as children such as this which is certainly the intention and achievement of this book, based on a very detailed record of Elly's development, from the uncertain diagnosis of a relatively unfamiliar condition at 22 months. Untouched by human experience, totally acceptant, serene and self-sufficient, Elly would have remained just that way unless Mrs. Park had not attempted to expand her world and make her relate, which to some extent she has by now succeeded in doing. It's a very interesting record thereof as well as of what professional help she could secure (psychiatrists here; Anna Freud's clinic in England; special schools); it also does show the prevalent patterns in this condition (from the ""refrigerator parents""--intellectually superior, reserved, detached, to the various ways in which these children can be reached) which are important. Also, that love is not enough. But books like this will illumine and instruct.

Pub Date: Nov. 8th, 1967
Publisher: Harcourt, Brace & World