"Jan, My Brain Damaged Daughter" by Dr. Camilla An

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"Jan, My Brain Damaged Daughter" by Dr. Camilla An

Postby thesedays » Tue Apr 14, 2009 12:06 am

I found this book some years ago at a book fair, and while it is long out of print and probably next to impossible to find, I am mentioning it here because it's really obvious to me that Dr. Anderson's daughter is a moderately-functioning autistic.

Jan was born in 1942, and special education programs were essentially nonexistent at this time. Many people thought Jan should be institutionalized, but Dr. Anderson and her husband, who died shortly before the book's publication in 1963, did not want to do that, and with their guidance and the support of a live-in nanny and strong extended family, were able to give her the best quality of life they could and she was able to attend public school for a time. Otherwise, she was mostly home-schooled.

When I got Internet access, I was delighted to learn that Dr. Anderson was still alive and wrote to her. I got a very nice letter, which I still have, from her niece, because Dr. Anderson was well into her 90s and living in a nursing home. The niece said her mind was intact but her vision and hearing were almost gone and she could no longer live on her own. The niece also said, "Until a few years ago, Dr. Anderson would not admit that Jan was autistic but the people who work with her generally agree that she is." At the time, Jan was living in a group home.

Ironically, Dr. Anderson was a psychiatrist who chose her specialty because she got her M.D. in 1929, and the only way she could earn a living after the stock market crash was as a salaried staff member in a mental institution, and she was shocked to discover that she loved working there.

Camilla Anderson Friendly died in 2001 at the age of 96. As far as I know, Jan still lives in Montana, where she was living when I got the letter.
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