Chasing the Intact Mind: How the Severely Autistic and Intellectually Disabled Were Excluded from the Debates That Affect Them Most

Oxford Univ. Oct. 2023. 192p. ISBN 9780197683842. $34.95. PSYCH
Lutz (history of medicine, Univ. of Pennsylvania; We Walk: Life with Severe Autism) is the VP of the National Council on Severe Autism. In this book, she addresses head-on how society often treats people who are intellectually disabled. She explains the concept of “the intact mind,” the erroneous view that inside every autistic person there is an intelligent, typical person waiting to be let out (via diets or other treatments). Stressing the need for improved services, Lutz asserts that this egregious perspective has led to discrimination and the dismantling of programs that autistic people need and want, with considerable evidence to support her argument. She aims to help readers better understand autism, and she does so by summarizing decades of physician and parental memoirs that show the evolution of how autism has been viewed. She also studies their impacts; for example, the book explores the U.S. policy that allows employers with a particular certification to pay people with disabilities less than the federal minimum wage.
VERDICT A valuable and insightful book for readers who want to trace the origins of the intact mind concept and its influence on practices and policies that discriminate against intellectually and developmentally disabled people.
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