Autism is a disorder that occurs as a result of the brain developmental disorder and is characterized by severe and comprehensive shortage of social interaction and communication, as well as restricted interests and repetitive actions. All these signs are manifested before the age of three years. Similar conditions that marked milder signs and symptoms refers to autism spectrum disorders.
The term was coined by the Swiss psychiatrist Eugen Bleuler and means self-absorption or absorption. The word comes from the Greek word αυτος (Autos), which means “self.” Bleuler used it for the first time in an issue of the American Journal of Insanity in 1912 in relation to the difficulties that people with schizophrenia may have to connect with other people. “Autism” in this context is sometimes called schizophrenic autism, and has hardly anything to do with autism discussed here.
The causes of autism are closely linked to genes that affect the maturation of synaptic connections in the brain, but the genetics of the disease is complex, and at the moment it is not clear what has a greater effect on the appearance of autism spectrum disorders: the interaction of multiple genes or rarely occurring mutations. In rare cases, there is detected a stable association of the disease with exposure to substances that cause birth defects.
Other suspected causes are debatable, there is no scientific evidence for the hypothesis linking autism with childhood vaccinations.
The classification of autism did not occur until 1943, when Leo Kanner, doctor at Johns Hopkins Hospital, studied a group of eleven children and introduced the term “early infantile autism.” Meantime, Austrian scientist Hans Asperger described a different form of autism, which later became known as Asperger syndrome. The global recognition of Hans Asperger’s work was delayed due to World War II. In fact, the majority of his work was not recognized until 1997.
In 1989, Uta Frith elaborated a theory that people with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) process signals from the environment in a different way. The basic assumption is that a different brain function creates a central cognitive dysfunction. The consequence is a reduced ability to create, understand, and interpret the context, connection, and wholeness (decreased central coherence).
Another theory that has emerged during the late 1980s points to an impaired executive function as the central problem. This dysfunction will cause difficulties as noticeable in areas that are responsible for flexible behavior, ability to plan / organize, manage and evaluate time, flexibility of attention and adaptability.
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