Austism and Infant Attachment: A Review of the Literature
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While the research is in its beginnings, a diagnosis of autism does not necessarily equate with an attachment-less life. Considering the possible adverse reaction of the parent, the prevalence of symptoms that contribute to a lack of emotional reciprocity, and neurological malfunctioning in areas critical in relationship formation it seems hopeless for a parent to attempt to form a secure attachment with their autistic child. Yet, as Stephen Bohay demonstrates, a parent should not desert their dreams of eventually forming a close, happy relationship with their child. Autistic children can and do form attachments to their parents and these attachments are just as likely to be secure as the attachments of normally developing children. However, these attachments generally have a late onset due to an apparent need for higher mental representational skills. But once these skills develop, it is quite possible that the parent of an autistic child may be able to exclaim, “I really felt he loved me” (Holloway, 1981) also.