History of Autism, ASD, and AD
Leo Kanner, a doctor at Johns Hopkins Hospital and the first self-described child-psychiatrist, first described what we now know to be autism in his 1943 paper titled, "Autistic Disturbances of Affective Contact." He described a disorder similar to, but distinct from childhood schizophrenia. Autism, taken from symptoms of schizophrenia, described withdrawn symptoms or social interaction problems, and was included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 3rd Ed. (DSM-III) under the name Infantile Autism in 1980. This was later changed to autism in the revised DSM-III in 1987. The authors indicated that some camps still considered autism a schizophrenic disorder, and that infantile autism was the earliest form of schizophrenia (Sanders, 2009).
In 1944, Austrian pediatrician and medical professor, Hans Asperger described a very similar disorder in his research, Autistic Psychopathy in Childhood. He described the same deficits of social interaction and stereotyped behavior. But because it was not translated into English, it was not widely published or introduced to the larger medical community until 1981. But unlike Kanner’s autism, Asperger described extraordinary abilities in mathematics and relative strengths in some communicative skills. Whereas Kanner described autism as having qualitative impairments in communication, Asperger told of children speaking like “little adults, although in a rigid, stereotyped fashion.” Lorna Wing, English psychiatrist and physician, who introduced Asperger’s paper to North America, noted that there was no evidence that any qualitative differences existed between autism and Asperger’s disorder, but her assertion was largely ignored (Sanders, 2009).
Asperger’s was distinguished from autism in the DSM-IV, but apart from the absence of communicative impairment and cognitive delay, Asperger’s disorder is virtually identical to autism diagnostically. High functioning autism (HFA) does not appear in the DSM as a diagnosis, but is considered autism without the cognitive delay, otherwise qualifying for autism but with an IQ of 70 or higher (Sanders, 2009).
Researchers have found that when children with Asperger’s and children with autism are compared, lower IQ is correlated to more autistic symptoms and social problems, but these effects are cancelled when IQ is statistically removed. These researchers suggest that autistic symptoms and social problems are attributable to IQ and age, rather than a difference between Asperger’s and autism. This is consistent with other research that suggests that differences between AD and HFA diminish as children get older (Sanders, 2009).
Changes in Criteria and the Effects
Autism Spectrum disorder (ASD) is comprised within The DSM-IV-TR as five separate disorders: autism, Asperger’s disorder, Rett’s disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS). Each of these have...