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Rights of the Autistic Child

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Chapter Summary

Autism and the related pervasive developmental disorders present ethical issues quite unlike most other typical physical or mental childhood conditions. In addition, there are funding issues complicated by controversy over some of the most commonly used methods: is it medical treatment or special education? This chapter addresses these issues, in an effort to bring attention to the rights of children whose illness or disorder or treatment does not fit into typical patterns. Medical treatment for children requires parental informed consent. Informed consent requires good information, but there are many unknowns about the treatment of autism. Apart from medication, the most common treatment for autistic children involves training in life skills: responding to others, learning to brush their hair, feed themselves, learning language or communication skills. The line between medical treatment, that is, treatment for a medical condition, and education, albeit very special education, blurs.

Keywords: autistic children; life skills; pervasive developmental disorders



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