Kristien Hens

Published On


Page Range

pp. 51-62

Print Length

11 pages

4. Sociological and Historical Explanations of Autism

Autism may have had different meanings throughout history and in different cultures This chapter explores how autism as a phenomenon in the clinic arose over the last century. Although the kinds of people we now call autistic may have always existed, they are given this specific diagnosis only recently. Sociologists and historians have provided several explanations. The rise of the diagnosis of autism may be due to the fact that in the mid twentieth century, children became more and more objects of study for psychology. Also, fewer children were institutionalized, and more parents cared for their children at home. The autism diagnosis offered them therapies. Moreover, autism is a heterogeneous condition also in its biology. It may be impossible to find one specific biological cause. This has caused some scholars to argue we should abandon the label altogether.