“The latest studies suggest that as many as 1 in 150 kids age 10 and younger may be affected by autism or a related disorder- a total of nearly 300,00 children in the U.S. alone”
-Madeleine Nash “The Secrets of Autism”
Around the same time that Kanner was conducting his research Hans Asperger, an Austrian pediatrician, encountered cases of people with autism on the higher end of the spectrum. Some time after their findings were published a Freudian approach was taken to autism and the disorder was primarily thought to result from parental negligence. The term “refrigerator mothers” was coined and mothers were put to blame for children who suffered from autism. It was not until the 1980s that science started to move away from this theory.
The official definition of autism is found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) and is constantly being revised with each new edition of the manual. According to Mark F. Blaxill, “The core definition of autism has remained relatively stable since Rutter’s introduction of the three main behavioral domains in 1978.” (“What’s Going On? The Question of Time Trends in Autism”,539). These behavioral domains are repetitive behavior, social deficits, and language abnormalities. Today autism is considered to be a disorder that spans a spectrum where the severity of the behavioral domains dictate where on the spectrum one lies. Individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of high functioning autism, and individuals who never develop verbal language skills, or have low functioning autism, both have autism. The two are on opposite ends of the spectrum, but they are both autistic.
To find out more about the disorder visit Autism Speaks.