Autistic disturbances of affective contact, (1943), Kanner, L.


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The case histories of 11 children are presented to illustrate an apparently new form of emotional disorder. Although these children present the combination of extreme autism, obsessiveness, stereotypy, and echolalia, they differ from schizophrenia in that the condition is present from birth, and they are able to maintain a purposeful and intelligent relation to objects that do not threaten their aloneness. It is concluded that these are "pure-culture examples of inborn autistic disturbances of affective contact," and that they possess an innate inability to form the usual affective contact.

Citation: Kanner, L. (1943). Autistic disturbances of affective contact. Nervous Child, 2, 217–250. Kanner, L. (1943). Autistic disturbances of affective contact. Nervous Child, 2, 217–250.

Die „Autistischen Psychopathen” im Kindesalter, (1944), Asperger, H.


Citation: Asperger, H. (1944) Die “Autistischen Psychopathen” im Kindesalter. [The “Autistic Psychopaths” in Childhood]. Archiv für Psychiatrie und Nervenkrankheiten, 117, 76-136.

'Autistic psychopathy' in childhood, (1991), Asperger, H.

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In what follows, I will describe a particularly interesting and highly recognisable type of child. The children I will present all have in common a fundamental disturbance which manifests itself in their physical appearance, expressive functions and, indeed, their whole behaviour. This disturbance results in severe and characteristic difficulties of social integration. In many cases the social problems are so profound that they overshadow everything else. In some cases, however, the problems are compensated by a high level of original thought and experience. This can often lead to exceptional achievements in later life. With the type of personality disorder presented here we can demonstrate the truth of the claim that exceptional human beings must be given exceptional educational treatment, treatment which takes account of their special difficulties. Further, we can show that despite abnormality human beings can fulfil their social role within the community, especially if they find understanding, love and guidance. There are many reasons for describing in detail this type of abnormally developing child. Not the least of them is that these children raise questions of central importance to psychology and education.

Name and Concept

I have chosen the label autism in an effort to define the basic disorder that generates the abnormal personality structure of the children we are concerned with here. The name derives from the concept of autism in schizophrenia. Autism in this sense refers to a fundamental disturbance of contact that is manifest in an extreme form in schizophrenic patients.

Citation: Asperger, H. (1991). ‘Autistic psychopathy’ in childhood. In U. Frith (Ed.), Autism and Asperger Syndrome (pp. 37-92). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/CBO9780511526770.002

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