History Of Autism

In 1908, Eugen Bleuler coined the word "autism" in schizophrenic patients who screened themselves off and were self-centered.
In 1943, the American child psychiatrist Leo Kanner described 11 children with the following common traits: impairments in social relations, anguish for changes, good memory, belated echolalia, over compassion to certain stimuli (especially sound), food problems, limitations in spontaneous activity, good intellectual potential, often coming from talented families. He called the children autistic.
In 1944, Hans Asperger, independent of Kanner, wrote about a group of children he called autistic psychopaths. In most aspects they resembled the children of Kanner's description. The difference was that he did not mention echolalia as a linguistic problem but that the children spoke like little grown-ups. In addition he mentioned their motor activity which was more clumsy and different from normal children.
Bruno Bettelheim wrote about three therapy sessions with children in The Empty Fortress. He called them autistic and claimed that their disorder was due to the coldness of their mothers. He totally detached the parents from the children's therapy.
Developments in the research
In the 70s, knowledge of autism begun to spread to Sweden. The Erica Foundation in progress education and therapy for psychotic children in the beginning of the 80s. The first autistic classes within special education were started in the middle of the 70s.
In the 80s, autism research accelerated and more and more researchers became convinced that the basic reasons were to be found in neurological disturbances, sometimes combined with hereditary illnesses like tuberous sclerosis, metabolic disturbances like PKU or chromosomal aberrations such as fragile X-chromosome.

In spite of the multitude of causes for autism that were found, there were similarities that made it possible to group them under the same main diagnosis. It was also observed that autistic children among themselves were very different. There was a whole spectrum from severely retarded multi-handicapped children to extremely gifted eccentrics that were fairly good at taking care of themselves.
Autism is a severe developmental disorder that affects the way a child sees and interacts with the rest of the world. It limits their ability to interact with others socially, in fact many autism suffers avoid human contact. Autism is part of a larger group of disorders called pervasive developmental disorders (PDD).

Autism symptoms
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