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Understanding autism
Understanding autism

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6 Brief history of autism: key players and milestones

We will end this introduction to autism with some historical background. Autism was first described in the early 1940s, and with developments in knowledge, the concept has been evolving ever since. To understand where we are now, it is important to know something about the key players and historical milestones of the last 8 decades.

Some of the language and concepts for describing and discussing autistic people throughout history may now seem odd or completely unacceptable. Remember, though, that ideas about autism arose within the context of psychiatric thinking and social attitudes of the time. Even if some of these ideas now seem misguided or wrong, their role in the history of autism must be understood and acknowledged.