Autism History

Autism as a Genetic Brain Disorder

In the 1940’s Austrian psychiatrist, Leo Kanner, put forward a theory that autism was not a form of schizophrenia but a separate illness noting in particular the superior abilities of the child. Despite this distinction it wasn’t until the 1970’s and the unearthing of Hans Asperger and his less pervasive form of autism that the psychological milieu …

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The End of Autism as a ‘Severe Disorder’

Starting the early 1900’s and lasting well into the 1970’s autism was seen to be a small subset of childhood schizophrenia. Clinicians blamed the onset of autism on cold and emotionless ‘refrigerator mothers’. Later the psychological milieu changed and autism began to be seen as a biological disorder of the brain and the less pervasive Aspberger’s …

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Recognition of ‘Special Abilities’

In the 1940’s both Leo Kanner and Hans Asperger identified autism as distinct from psychiatric illness and both of them noted ‘special abilities’ of the child. Kanner listed thirteen specific traits relevant to autism – note what is in first place! Special abilities Not asking questions or talking too much Happiest alone and indifferent to others Not …

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