The history of autism

Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2004 Aug;13(4):201-8. doi: 10.1007/s00787-004-0363-5.


Autism remains a fascinating condition, perhaps the most prolifically researched of all child psychiatric disorders. Its history yields many lessons: early accounts of possible autism are, with one exception, unclear; the greatest contributions to our understanding have come from individual clinicians and researchers; the concept and definition of the disorder have changed greatly over the years; some ideas once held with conviction, were later proved to be unfounded; and socio-political shifts as well as research findings have radically altered our understanding of the syndrome as well as the care and treatment offered to people with autism.

Publication types

  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Asperger Syndrome / history*
  • Autistic Disorder / history*
  • History, 18th Century
  • History, 19th Century
  • History, 20th Century
  • Politics
  • Psychology / history*