Autism is one of the most fascinating and productively researched conditions of all
psychiatric disorders in children. The history of autism has opened many doors to better
understand this illness, but early accounts of autism are still unclear (Wolff, S). Autism
has no conceivable cause or cure, but the concept and definition of the disorder has changed
immensely over the years (Wolff, S). Because of this, methods for treating autism has improved,
as well as the understanding that individuals with autism need specific care and treatment.
This paper will discuss the background and history of autism, past and current treatments,
diagnosis, signs and symptoms, and the parts of the brain that are affected by this disorder.
Autism was discovered in the early 1900s, and referred to a range of psychological
conditions. The word “autism” has been in use for about 100 years and comes from the Greek
word “autos”, which means “self”. The word “autism” describes a condition in which a person
is removed from social interaction, or an “isolated self” (WebMD, 2005-2011). In 1911, a Swiss
psychiatrist by the name of Eugen Bleuler was the first person to use the term, although he used
it to describe a group of symptoms of schizophrenia.
In the 1940’s, researchers from the United States used “autism” to describe children with
social or emotional problems. A doctor from John Hopkins University by the name of Leo
Kanner studied several different children with withdrawn behaviors, and used “autism” to
describe them as well. Hans Asperger, a scientist in Germany, discovered a similar disorder to
autism that is now called “Asperger’s syndrome”.
Until the 1960s, autism and schizophrenia were considered to be the same disorder. As
researchers began to identify and learn more about autism, the link between the two conditions
broke, and there grew a separate understanding of autism in children. In the 1960s and 1970s,