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.