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For our History of Psychology assignment, we have decided to dive into the history of autism. The term “autism” came about in the English language in 1912, meaning “self” (Foster, 2007). Hypotheses ranging from biological to environmental causes make assumptions of the etiology relating anywhere from diet to the absurd notion that mothers caused their child’s autism. Furthering the metaphor that autism is like a puzzle (as often demonstrated in the puzzle piece being the universal symbol for autism), its many pieces needing to be put together, we have taken into account many perspectives held over time. As we will see, ideas of the etiology of autism reflect the zeitgeist of the times as well as the nature versus nurture controversy stemming from psychology’s earliest influences. Please enjoy the research we have compiled and we hope it is helpful in your greater understanding of autism spectrum disorder!

A timeline of historical figures contributing to the study of autism, as well as the four major DSM publications.

By Brooke Durbin, Kyra Mandas, and Stephanie Watkins


Foster, Jennifer. (2007)  The Praeger Handbook of SpecialEducation; History of Autism. Praeger publishers.


Children with Puzzle Pieces: http://www.innovationcanada.ca/media/articles/632/cache/640_x_350_main-resized-pauline-gravel-autism-istock-000006814674small.jpg

Timeline put together by Stephanie Watkins.

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