Friday, May 6, 2011

Special Needs: History of Autism

This is an interesting history of autism I found on the AARP website of all places...

In 1943, the American physician Leo Kanner published his seminal paper, in which he described 11 children who were socially isolated, with "autistic disturbances of affective contact," impaired communication, and behavioral inflexibility. He coined the term "infantile autism" and discussed the causes in terms of biological processes, although at that time, most scientific attention was focused on analytical theories of the disorder. Kanner's paper did not initially receive much scientific credit, and children with autistic symptoms continued to be incorrectly diagnosed with childhood schizophrenia. His choice of the term "autism" may have created some confusion, because the word was first used to describe a mental state of fantastical, self-centered thought processes, similar to the symptoms of schizophrenia.

During the development of the disorder, the first year of life is usually marked with no clear discriminating features. Between two and three years of age, children show impairment in language development, especially comprehension; unusual language usage; poor response to name calling; deficient non-verbal communication; minimal recognition or responsiveness to other people's happiness or distress; and limited variety of imaginative play or pretence, and especially social imagination.
During school age, children's abnormalities in language development (including muteness or the use of odd or inappropriate words), their social withdrawal, inability to join in with the play of other children, or inappropriate attempts at joint play often alert teachers and others to the possibility of an autistic type disorder. The manifestations of autism can also change with time during childhood, depending on other developmental impairments, personality, and the addition of medical or mental health problems.

Read more here...

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