History of Autism Research

 Pioneers of Autism Research 

Leo Kanner is thought to be the first researcher to discover ASD, but the first description of Asperger’s syndrome (a form ASD) was given by Hans Asperger, his work being published in 1938. People who have met Asperger said that he demonstrated some of the symptoms that he described in his works, so it was believed that he also was on the spectrum.

For one reason or another, Asperger’s work did not gain much attention, but instead Kanner’s work did. In Kanner's work, he described 11 cases of ASD and called the disorder “early infantile autism”.

Kanner gave detailed descriptions of autistic symptoms of the 11 children included in his study, as well as parents’ portraits. The descriptions of some of the children held some resemblance to the descriptions that Asperger described in his work. As it's been made aware of now, child with Asperger's tend to have average or above average intellectual abilities and exceptional memory capabilities.

A Dark Period in the History of Autism

After Leo Kanner observed the mothers of children with ASD, he concluded that ASD was a psychological disorder. He said that ASD was sustained from childhood trauma, as a result from mother's being "cold" and unavailable to their children.

It has been made known now that the mothers of those who have ASD suffer from depression, anxiety, and other psychological disorders, all due to a general lack of support and understanding of their child's condition. However, the damage was done, and mothers of children with ASD were harshly stigmatized for decades.

Without better comprehension of the nature of autism, scientists and doctors attempted a variety of methods to treat autism, some of which were completely inhumane and appalling. Those with ASD were subjected to treatment methods involving illict drugs, electroshock therapy when the participant would be shocked for wrong answers, having to drink diluted bleach; all in hopes of 'treating' their condition.

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