As a neurodevelopmental disorder, autism impacts brain development in children. As a result, most people have trouble communicating, have problems interacting socially, and repeat certain behaviors. Also, they may have limited interests and activities. Epilepsy, sleep disorders, gastrointestinal abnormalities, and immune deficiencies are common co-occurring medical conditions with autism spectrum disorder. There are many mental health issues, including anxiety and depression. It can also affect any individual’s quality of life by any of these conditions. Now, let’s dive into the history of autism.
What To Know About Autism?
The same neurological differences and traits that now constitute autism can be seen in different cultures and times periods based on today’s nomenclature. Despite the fact that autism is not a new phenomenon, the proper definition is constantly changing. People have failed traditional tests to pass culture, gender, ability level, and social environment
As a sign of attention, it is customary for children to look someone in the eye. But direct eye contact may be impolite in some cultures and in some families. It is difficult to identify a child with an autistic trait in such a situation. An extremely shy child may not alarm their parents, as well. Moreover, mimicking may mask an autistic child’s autistic traits, allowing the child to go unnoticed.
Similar to the assumption that someone who cannot speak does not understand language, one who cannot control their body to accomplish simple tasks seems to be unwilling. The diagnosis of autism is not always easy despite today’s clear criteria, especially when it is accompanied by co-occurring conditions such as intellectual disabilities, anxiety, ADHD, depression, OCD, CPTSD, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, etc.
How Autism Actually Evolved?
Let’s discuss about the actual history of autism. As a result of the study of schizophrenia, Swiss psychiatrist Eugen Bleuler coined the term autism, derived from the Greek word ‘autos’. In writing about a group of patients she had seen in a Moscow clinic, all of whom fit the current description of autism, Grunya Efimovna Sukhareva was inspired by the meaning of “withdrawn within oneself”. It is unfortunate that Sukhareva’s 1925 article has been overlooked for so long. While Hans Asperger may have read the article, he didn’t credit her when he published in 1944 about the autistic traits that would later be named after him.
It took Austrian-born American psychiatrist Leo Kanner from 1938 to 1943 to observe and describe eleven children diagnosed with autism. Kanner’s research contributed most of what we know about autism today. Talking more about history of autism, his concern for the treatment of child patients in institutions was also among the first among American psychiatrists.
Several studies have been conducted to determine what may cause autism and how to prevent or cure it. Autism is considered to be a neurodevelopmental disorder at this point. There is no cure for this disease. It is still very early in the research process to find out the possible causes. People with autism spectrum disorders must have concomitant issues addressed if they are to improve their quality of life and happiness.
In many different countries, the DSM provides information on all recognized mental disorders produced by the American Psychiatric Association. In 2013, the DSM published the fifth edition. Autism spectrum disorder includes several conditions that previously had their own entries:
- Asperger’s Syndrome
- Autistic disorder
- Childhood disintegrative disorder
- Pervasive developmental disorder – not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS).
In recent years, self-advocacy has emerged as a movement aimed at increasing knowledge and acceptance of the neuro-divergent. Adults who are autistic themselves can express from firsthand experience what it means to be autistic.