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The Linwood Method and the Bio-Medical Approach: Two of the Competing Theories

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RUNNING HEAD: Competing Theories for Treatments of Autism

The Linwood Method and the Bio-Medical Approach: Two of the Competing Theories

For the Treatment of Patients with Autism


The author of this paper gives and explanation of what autism is. He also tells you a b it about Jeanne Simons and why she created the Linwood Method and what it is. Then, in addition, you are given a description of who Dr. Jacquelyn McCandless is and her reasons for creating the Bio-Medical Method. She also gives the main idea behind the Bio-Medical Method.


I have chosen the topic of autism because I have a family member that, at the age of two, was diagnosed as being autistic. I wanted to understand why he acts the way that he does. I also wanted to know what kids of treatments are out there; maybe it could be some use to his family. I found two theories of treatment that were very different from each other. My goal is to describe what autism is and then compare then Linwood Method and the Bio-Medical Approach.

What is Autism?

Autism was not classified as a separate syndrome until 1943 by Doctor Leo Kanner, a child psychologist at John Hopkins Medical School. HE described it as:

* Early onset- possibly from birth, but certainly before age two and a half

* Social and emotional impairment- often shows up at birth

* Communication disorders- encompass both the development and the use of speech

* Retardation or deviance in cognition- with approximately 60 percent of people with autism having measure IQ's below 50, 20 percent between 50, and 70, and only 20 percent having IQ's 70 and above

* An excessive need for sameness- with autistic children usually reacting to changes in their environment with great distress

* Abnormal responses to sensations- with these children often being overly reactive to sensory stimuli" (Simons 4)

There are other symptoms that are not included in this listing, such as, hyperactivity, abnormal sleep patterns, strong fears and phobias, delays in self help skills ( dressing themselves, toilet training, etc.), difficulties with balance and fine motor coordination, self aggression and violent temper tantrums.

"Today it is generally accepted that there may be several causes of autism, each producing similar symptoms. Among these are untreated phenylketonuria, rubella, celiac disease, and chemical exposure in pregnancy" (Simmons)

Children with autism are very distant. At times you would think that they might be deaf. A loud sound could happen and they would not even notice. These children do not create connections with people. They see the people around them more like objects to be used to get what they want. Sometimes they do certain behaviors over and over again, like rocking back and forth or repeating a phrase to themselves. It seems as of they are on their own little world that no one can get to, not even the parents and other

family members they see everyday. I think you can see how frustrating and sad this might be for the families.

The Linwood Method

The Linwood Method focuses on the psychological treatment and behavior modification of the patients. Jeanne Simons started Linwood in the 1950's. She was working for Children's House in Washington in 1949, when she realized that some of the children that she was in charge of did not fit into the category of "emotionally disturbed", but they all seemed to have similar behaviors with one another. They were all socially and emotionally isolated. They set up boundaries around themselves. She thought that there had to be a better way to help these children. So, she worked with this specific group, not even knowing six years prior to that Dr. Leo Kanner had described their distinctive behavior. She started to work with a young man named Lee who had been diagnosed by Dr. Kanner himself. Through Lee she met Dr. Kanner and realized that she needed to create a residence to take care of these patients. Therefore, Linwood was created through a lot of hard work and sacrifice.

The first thing that happens when a child comes to Linwood is he or she is observed by the doctors. Since conventional tests don't work, this is the only way for the professionals to see if, first of all, the child needs to be there and second, if they child will fit into one of the groups that is already set up.

There are many things that they work with children about. Relationships are one of the first items that they try to work on, because they want to try and forge relationships with the patients. Without some sort of attachment the child may not trust the doctor. Next they work on shaping behavior. When trying to shape a patients behavior the doctors have to pick an appropriate motivator. Each person will have something that when taken away will make them upset, whether it be the ability to go on a trip somewhere or a special food.

Then they try to set limits. Each child is allowed a lot of freedom when they first arrive. Some of the patients have very self-destructive behaviors, like hitting themselves. There was on child that was described in The Hidden Child that hit himself until he had huge bruises across his chest. They also try to limit dangerous behavior, aggression towards others, destructive behavior, and "naughty" behavior. Next is getting rid of compulsions. Most patients have routines that they have to follow and if anything gets in the way temper tantrums will ensue. This process is to try and help them become more adaptive to their environment, instead of everyone having to adapt to them.

Two of the hardest things that they have to do are developing language and thought processes and developing social and emotional skills. These take a lot of time and patience on the part of both



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