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Questions for Dr Lorna Wing

The History of Ideas on Autism: Legends, Myths and Reality


By Lorna Wing


The development of ideas about the nature of autism is described, covering myths and legends, accounts of individuals in the historical literature, the search for identifiable sub-groups, Kanner's and Asperger's syndromes, and the current view of a wide autistic spectrum. Changes in theories of aetiology are outlined, including the early magical and mystical beliefs, the era when purely psychological and emotional causes were promulgated, and the present day research into biological mechanisms. The major advances in understanding the neurological and psychological aspects of autism, which have led to the development of special methods of education, are discussed. The rate of increase in knowledge in recent years gives hope for future progress in understanding and treatment.

Dr Lorna Wing
Elliot House, London, UK

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Dr Lorna Wing