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An Introduction to Autism

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), there was no name for autism until 1943, when Dr. Leo Kanner conducted a study of the disorder at Johns Hopkins Hospital and labeled it 'early infantile autism.' A milder form of autism became known as Asperger's syndrome, named for the German scientist Dr. Hans Asperger.

NIMH describes autism and Asperger's syndrome as two of five known developmental disorders, most commonly referred to as 'autism spectrum disorders' (ASD). Each disorder on the spectrum displays a certain amount of impairment in communication skills and social interactions, as well as restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior. Although most cases are diagnosed by the age of 3, some cases are detected as early as 18 months. Doctors are hopeful that eventually most cases will be identifiable as early as the age of 1.



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