Understanding Autism: Parents, Doctors, and the History of a Disorder

By Chloe Silverman | Go to book overview

5
Desperate and Rational: Parents and
Professionals in Autism Research

In fact, the journey grows longer than expected—and
steeper—

and perplexing

How many times have you, now almost nine, sent us back to our

lovers’ laboratory

Dark with dashed expectations, challenging us to let go and try
again?

—Jack Zimmerman1

Jack Zimmerman is the husband of Dr. Jacquelyn McCandless, the author of Children with Starving Brains, a guide to biomedical treatments for autism spectrum disorders. In the poem that prefaces McCandless’s book, Zimmerman addresses his granddaughter Chelsea, the subject of those “dashed expectations” and the inspiration for their “lovers’ laboratory.” Zimmerman’s and McCandless’s focus on treating an individual child, the affective and rational challenges of treatment, and the idea that the process of healing is a “journey” are all components of a perspective they share with an international network of doctors and parents. Although McCandless entered the world of autism treatment after a lengthy career in antiaging medicine and psychiatry, the couple joins evangelical Christians, functional and integrative medicine practitioners, parents with nursing degrees, and university-based pharmacologists in their efforts to transform the syndrome of autism. The laboratory that they describe is both private and connected to hundreds of similar places. These include com-

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