Sunday, November 6, 2011

The History of Autism

Autism wasn't recognized as being a condition all to itself because for so many years, it was originally being confused with schizophrenia, another mental disorder. It is speculated that the roots of autism go back over a century and that there was only a single cause of the disorder. However, past research and studies about autism shows that there are more than one cause and there is nothing that is basic regarding this mental disorder. The following is a chronological history of autism.

1912 - Eugene Bleuler - the noted Swiss psychiatrist who was the first parson to recognize a schizophrenia pattern with self-absorbed individuals. He was actually the first professional to coin the term "autism" and use it as a result of this self-absorption and researching it. However, he was supposedly not the first person to recognize that this was a separate mental disorder and not a form of schizophrenia.

1943 - Leo Kanner - the noted Austrian-American child psychologist is given credit as being the first medical professional to claim that autism was its own mental disorder. Kanner, in his research, studied 11 children in the same group and claimed that they all had the same problems including changes causing them anguish, being overly sensitive to certain stimulants, and social interaction problems.

1944 - Hans Asperger - the Austrian pediatrician and scientist who published a study that he conducted with a group of what he referred to as "autistic-psychopathic" children. Asperger also noticed many of these same characteristics and traits as what Leo Kanner had discovered in his research. However, there was one characteristic or trait that he failed to discuss and that was delayed echolalia or the vocal repetition of another individual's sounds or words. His mental disorder was later labeled as Asperger's Autism.

1967 - Bruno Bettelheim - author of "The Empty Fortress: Infantile autism and the birth of the self" and a child psychologist of American-Austrian decent. In his book, he described a group of three autistic children that he studied and where he claimed that the mother's coldness toward these children was what caused the disorder. He believed that the parents shouldn't be involved when the children are undergoing therapy and treatment. Consequently, the lack of understanding of the disorder on behalf of the parents led most of them to blame themselves for the onset of the disorder in their child.

The 1970's - knowledge and research of autism starts in Sweden. The Erica Foundation began educating children with autism and engaging them in therapy. During the research and studies that were conducted by this organization, it was discovered that autism was much more complex than what they had initially thought. This research is what the Erica Foundation to be the first professionals in history to suggest that there were multiple causes of this mental disorder.

The 1980's - Autism research skyrocketed during this decade and a number of research scientists were clinging to the school of thought that the primary reasons for the onset of the condition were associated with neurological disturbances. On different occasions, it was found that certain genetic factors and illness were associated with the development of these neurological disturbances.

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