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Who Discovered Autism?

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The first mention of the word Autism was recorded by Martin Luther, a priest and professor of theology from Germany. He explained a story of a 12 year old boy who might have severe autism. Historians, however, doubt the authenticity of this event. The first credible record of autism was of Hugh Blair of Borgue, a Scottish landowner that was on trial for being mentally incompetent to enter a marriage in 1748.

Martin Luther and Paul Eugen BleulerMartin Luther wrote about a boy with severe autism & Paul Eugen Bleuler was the first person to use the word “autism”.

Paul Eugen Bleuler

There have been other incidents, which could be related to autism, though the identification of the disease or even the use of the term autism was yet to be implied. The word autism originated from the New Latin word; autism, first used by Paul Eugen Bleuler. This Swiss physician was an expert in mental illness and used the term autism while explaining different symptoms of schizophrenia.

Hans Asperger

The New Latin word literally means self, which he connected to the self-observing nature of autistic patients. The term autism was first used by Hans Asperger, a pediatrician from Austria. In 1938, he gave a lecture about child psychology where he modified Bleuler’s terminology of autism to explain the autistic psychopaths. However, the topic of his research was not autism but Asperger syndrome, which was later recognized as a different disease in 1981.

Leo Kanner

According to many specialists, the discovery of autism can be credited to Leo Kanner. He was an Austrian physician and psychiatrist. He was serving at the Johns Hopkins Hospital where he researched on 11 children with significant behavioral similarities. He termed the disease as early infantile autism and published a paper about his findings in 1943. It was the first time the term autism was correctly applied to the correct disease.

More on Autism: Facts about Autism.