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History of Autism

Autism is a developmental condition that impairs two crucial aspects of human development: communication and socializing. In other words, it has an impact on how people with autism interact with one another. Autism may also impede a person’s ability to study and use his or her creativity. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), autism affects one out of every 68 children in the United States, including one out of every 42 males and one out of every 189 girls. 2 The history of autism is significant because it raises awareness, encourages others to seek treatment, and recognizes persons who have made significant contributions to society via their own hobbies or abilities.

Autism as a condition has altered its definition and diagnosis throughout time as new information from studies has been available (Huguet, Ey, & Bourgeron, 2013). Factors such as an increase in research on children with Autism, as well as the expanding pandemic caused by the fast number of children classified as being on the Autism spectrum, have prompted the shift in classification and diagnosis. Many recent research have continued to investigate the elements that contribute to the development of Autism in children.

Autism was initially recognized as a condition in 1943 by Leo Kanner, who believed that what is now known as Autism started with the acquisition of the attribute “enclosure to oneself” (Persico & Napolioni, 2013). Leo Kanner was a physician who did research based on 11 instances of what he believed to be Autism. He also called the condition “early infantile psychosis.” He observed these boys’ relationships and language deficiencies in a variety of contexts over their first two years of life. Kanner observed obvious disinterest in contact with others, an extreme hatred of change, an unusual relationship with specific objects to the point of obsession, and disinterest in communication, where the child would need to be tested to see if they can speak in order to connect to the language deficit section of this disorder’s diagnosis (Kanner, 1971). In 1943, Leo Kanner proposed the “Refrigerator Mother” idea, which highlighted what he viewed as a lack of parental warmth and commitment to their autistic children. In 1949, he proposed the “Refrigerator Mother” hypothesis of autism, which blamed autism on a “real absence of maternal warmth.”

Bernard Rimland is an American psychologist who disputed the belief that autism was caused by a chilly, distant mother’s emotional neglect. In 1964, he contended with Kanner that autism is a biological disorder. High-dose vitamin B6 was the first medication Dr. Rimland looked into after hearing from parents of autistic children. Others in the autism industry thought the concept of a vitamin being able to cure a brain illness was ridiculous, but time and study proved them incorrect. To far, 22 investigations (including 13 double-blind trials) have shown that vitamin B6, when taken with magnesium, helps a significant number of autistic children. 18

Hans Asperger was an Austrian doctor who classified four autistic boys (out of more than 400 youngsters) as “little professors” because of their amazing capacity to acquire particular knowledge (Greydanus et al., 2012). Asperger syndrome has grown to signify a better functioning individual with autism during the previous two decades. Lorna Wing, a British psychiatrist, coined the name Asperger syndrome in 1981 after her daughter was diagnosed with the condition.

In the mid-nineteenth century, autism was classified as a psychosis similar to infantile schizophrenia (Geschwind, 2009). Autism’s definition shifted in the 1980s, and it became defined as a developmental condition having biological roots (Geschwind, 2009). It was previously known that unusual genetic composition had a part in the development of Autism, implying that although parenting style may have a function in child development, it is not the major emphasis in the development of Autism as a condition (Geschwind, 2009). According to Wan, et al. (2013), children with Autism Spectrum Disorder have difficulty distinguishing between social interaction cues from their parents based on whether the parent obtains DNA that is similar to the child and if the parent provides physical attention to the child who has been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Finally, features within a kid who is genetically predisposed to the development of Autism Spectrum Illness are often more pronounced in children whose siblings have the disorder, as seen by isolating themselves as meeting the diagnostic criteria for the disorder.

The origins of genetic variables are important in influencing the disorder’s development in children. The definition and diagnosis of Autism have evolved in tandem with new information discovered about the illness as research in the area has grown and altered throughout time. Autism is currently recognized as a complicated neurodevelopmental condition in children under the age of three that interferes with social, communication, and cognitive development (Hallmayer etal., 2011). Asperger’s Syndrome, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, Rett syndrome, and Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified are all developmental diseases that afflict young children all over the globe. Each of these conditions has its own diagnostic to describe how it affects young children’s development and how it relates to the usual diagnosis of Autism.

However, Asperger’s Syndrome is a subset of Autism Spectrum Disorder, and the children classified as Asperger’s are those who are better functioning on the spectrum. When compared to mainstream children in society, children with Asperger’s have a severe problem with social relationships, and their talents and interests are often centered on specialized and atypical obsessions. Unlike true Autism Spectrum Disorder, Asperger’s is diagnosed later in life, rather than before the age of three, since Asperger’s syndrome requires a significant difficulty in school, social activities, or the workplace. Pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), on the other hand, refers to children who are on the Autism spectrum but do not have full-blown Autism. PDD-NOS is associated with social and intellectual deficits, as well as linguistic difficulties. Because this condition is still relatively new, there isn’t much research to back it up. Asperger’s syndrome and PDD-NOS are similar in that they both refer to children who have linguistic and social difficulties that position them on the autism spectrum, and their development is slowed as a result of these illnesses.

After the age of two, children with childhood disintegrative disorder develop dementia-like characteristics, losing their language abilities, capacity to establish friends, and ability to operate as a kid on their own. The process reverses itself, emphasizing how the child’s ability to learn diminishes and they become utterly unable of comprehending and remembering what has previously been taught. Their brain eventually turns like a sponge.

Rett’s syndrome, on the other hand, is a gender-specific illness. Rett’s syndrome is a neurodevelopmental condition that affects mostly girls and causes significant cognitive impairment. Unfamiliar hand motions and a language impairment are two kinds of indicators that may lead to a kid developing Autism Spectrum Disorder as early as 6 months of age (Schwartzer, Koenig, & Berman, 2013).

Because of their diverse classifications, each of these illnesses has distinct traits that impact Autism Spectrum Disorder in different ways, and children with Autism Spectrum Disorder often satisfy the criteria for two of the disorders rather than just one. Children may be uncomfortable in social situations and may typically isolate themselves in certain situations; nevertheless, there may be a linguistic barrier that prevents the kid from interacting. They may not be as intelligent as someone with Asperger’s syndrome, but they may be capable of speaking in whole phrases. The kid may, however, test average on IQ tests, indicating that he or she is on the spectrum, albeit it may not constitute a distinct condition in and of itself. According to the criteria of Autism, three major functions must arise before the kid becomes three years old for the diagnosis to be classified as Autism. For an extended period of time, the kid must develop language and communication deficiencies, as well as social interaction deficits and repetitive or restricted behaviors (Geschwind, 2009).

Most modern diagnoses are based on greater behavioral and cognitive observation in the school and home environment, as opposed to seeing a kid in a therapy session to see whether they are on the spectrum. The desire for uniformity in both the school and home environments in order to classify the kid based on comparable interactions in both locations is one rationale for interactions in many social settings. A child’s behavior may vary among peers than it does at home, and vice versa.

Sensory, fine, and gross motor developmental delays may occur in children with Autism, and these delays may overlap with defining where the kid falls on the Autism Spectrum. Additionally, the child’s unique delays must be assessed in order to determine which component of the spectrum better explains their individual behaviors and cognitions. An intellectual handicap, epilepsy, motor control issues, ADHD, tics, anxiety, sleep disorders, and gastrointestinal problems are some instances of these delays (Huguet, Ey, & Bourgeron, 2013). Despite the fact that the Autism diagnostic criteria are the same across the board in psychology, every kid falls somewhere on the spectrum differently due to their varied patterns. Children with Autistic traits may or may not have full-fledged Autism (Persico & Napolioni, 2013).

Autism is a rapidly developing area, with 40 children diagnosed for every 10,000 borns (Hallmayer et al., 2011). Men are also more likely than girls to be diagnosed with autism, with more than four times the number of males diagnosed (Huguet, Ey, & Bourgeron, 2013). Males are also four times more likely than girls to have a higher head circumference, according to a study, particularly in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (Shen, et al., 2013). There is no clear explanation why it is more common in boys than in girls that have been discovered so far; however, future study should look into this.


Greydanus, Donald E., MD Patel, Dilip R., MD. (2012) Autism Spectrum Disorders: Practical Overview for Pediatricians. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders an imprint of Elsevier, Inc,

Association, The American Nutrition. Autism World Loses A Giant: NOHA Honorary Member Bernarnd Rimland, PhD. Winter 2007. (accessed October 30, 2017)


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