Autism AHistory

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Information about Autism AHistory

Published on January 5, 2008

Author: Flemel


Autism – A History:  Autism – A History Dr. Thomas G. Ryan Ed.D. (OISE/UT) "Autism - Explaining the Enigma" (1989)   :  "Autism - Explaining the Enigma" (1989)   "Autism is not a modern problem, even though it has only been recognized in modern times. In view of the short history of psychiatry, and the even shorter history of child psychiatry, we know that a disorder recently described is not necessarily a recent disorder. An increase in diagnosed cases does not necessarily mean an increase in cases. (...)"   Page 16 of "Autism - Explaining the Enigma" (1989) by Uta Frith.  How Autism was First Recognized   :  How Autism was First Recognized   Leo Kaner and Hans Asperger who, independently of each other, first published accounts of this disorder. These publications, Kanners’s in 1943 and Asperger’s in 1944, contained detailed case descriptions and also offered the first theoretical attempts to explain the disorder. Birth – Onwards – Genetic?:  Birth – Onwards – Genetic? Both authorities (Leo Kaner and Hans Asperger) believed that there was present from birth a fundamental disturbance which gave rise to highly characteristic problems. Eugen Bleuler in 1911- Autism:  Eugen Bleuler in 1911- Autism Both (Leo Kaner and Hans Asperger) choose the word ‘autistic’in order to characterize the nature of the underlying disturbance. In fact, it is not really a coincidence, since the label had already been introduced by the eminent psychiatrist Eugen Bleuler in 1911 Autos -’ Self ’:  Autos -’ Self ’ A basic disturbance in schizophrenia (another term coined by Bleuler), namely the narrowing of relationships to people and to the outside world, a narrowing so extreme that it seemed to exclude everything except the person’s own self. This narrowing could be described as a withdrawal from the fabric of social life into the self. Hence the words ‘autistic’ and ‘autism’, from the Greek word autos meaning ‘self’. Autistic / Autism:  Autistic / Autism Today (Autism & Autistic) are applied almost exclusively to the developmental disorder that is called Autism, with a capital A. Baltimore & Vienna:  Baltimore & Vienna Kanner, working in Baltimore, and Asperger, working in Vienna, saw cases of strange children who has in common some fascinating features. Above all the children seemed to be unable to entertain normal affective relationships with people. In contrast to Bleuler’s schizophrenia the disturbance appeared to have been there from the beginning.    Kanner (U.S.A.) & Asperger (Vienna):  Kanner (U.S.A.) & Asperger (Vienna) Kanner’s paper has become the most quoted in the whole literatureon Autism, Asperger’s paper, written in German, and published during the Second World War, was largely ignored. The belief has grown that Asperger described quite a different type of child, not to be confused with the one Kanner described. This belief has no basis, as we see when we look at the original papers. Asperger’s thoughts . . . . .:  Asperger’s thoughts . . . . . Asperger’s definition of Autism or, as he called it, ‘autistic psychopathy’ is far wider than Kanner’s.Asperger included cases that showed severeorganic damage and those that shaded into normality. Nowadays, the label ‘Asperger’s syndrome’ tends to be reserved for the rare intelligent and highly verbal, near-normal autistic child.This is clearly not what Asperger intended, but having this special category has proved clinically useful. Kanner ‘s thoughts . . . . . :  Kanner ‘s thoughts . . . . . Kanner’s syndromeis nowadays often used to indicate the child with a constellation of classic, ‘nuclear’ features, resembling in astonishing detail features that Kanner identified in his first,inspired description. Again, the category is clinically useful since it communicates a prototypical pattern.(...)"    Eugen Bleuler - Swiss:  Eugen Bleuler - Swiss In 1908, Eugen Bleuler coined the word "autism" in schizophrenic patients who screened themselves off and were self-absorbed Baltimore – Kanner 1943:  Baltimore – Kanner 1943 In 1943, the American child psychiatrist Leo Kanner described 11 children with the following common traits: impairments in social interaction, anguish for changes, good memory, belated echolalia,  over sensitivity to certain stimuli (especially sound), food problems, limitations in spontaneous activity, good intellectual potential, often coming from talented families. He called the children autistic. Vienna – Hans Asperger:  Vienna – Hans Asperger 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 talked like little grown-ups. In addition he mentioned their motor activity which was more clumsy and different from normal children Recent – Discovery 1980’s:  Recent – Discovery 1980’s The work of Asperger did not become known until the end of the 1980s when his book was translated into English. Kanner's and Bettelheim's work were quite often confused  and it was  generally accepted that autistic children had frigid mothers. 70’s & 80’s:  70’s & 80’s In the 70s, knowledge of autism begun to spread to Sweden. The Erica Foundation started 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. Current Theories - Autism :  Current Theories - Autism Autism is a innate contact disorder Normally, infants early after birth orientate towards the human face and voice and respond to voices and facial expression. Autistic children cannot interpret another person's face and do not imitate as automatically. This is the reason why later in life they are not able to share attention and experiences with others. Much experience is missed that way. Early learning is usually passed from person to person by imitation. The basis of socialization is contact and imitation. Empathy – Missing!:  Empathy – Missing! Difficulty in seeing another person's perspective, in understanding the thoughts and intentions of others. There are researchers who believe the basic cause of this is a difficulty in shifting attention. The same attention-shifting difficulty would also lead to the ritualistic behaviors and the difficulties in managing change; difficulty in interrupting one activity and changing to another.  Central coherence = does not automatically look for the meaning of what is going on. Processing Impaired:  Processing Impaired Detailed vision. The world consists of isolated details and not a coherent inner map. Processes information a piece at a time. Has difficulties with information consisting of several parts. Autistic Students. . . .:  Autistic Students. . . . Have difficulties with void time when nothing happens as well as changing from one activity to another. Autism is a lifelong disability! Nothing can be done about the autism itself! Certain symptoms, however, can be relieved with medication. With knowledge of autism you can avoid aggravating the situation for persons with autism. Through education and knowledge people with autism can considerably improve their level of functioning and quality of life.

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