Due to Christmas and New Year Holiday season we may experience shipping delays. We apologise for the inconvenience and thank you for your understanding.


Kristien Hens

Published On


Page Range

pp. 3-12

Print Length

9 pages

1. The Origins of Autism

This chapter describes how at least three meanings of autism have been around from the start. I take a closer look at original texts about autism: the English text from 1943 by Leo Kanner (1894-1981), 'Autistic Disturbances of Affective Contact' and the German book from 1944 by Hans Asperger (1906–1980), 'Die "Autistischen Psychopathen" im Kindesalter'. As child psychiatrist, Leo Kanner viewed autism primarily as a disorder of development. For Hans Asperger, autistic characteristics were lifelong characteristics of one's personality. Hence, from the beginning, autism was conceptualized as a (child) psychiatric disorder, as an innate and lifelong character trait, and as a developmental phenomenon.


Kristien Hens

University of Antwerp