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Leo Kanner begins his landmark 1943 case series on autistic children by stating the condition was first brought to his attention in 1938. Recent letters to JADD have described this reference as “mysterious” and speculated it refers to papers published that year by Despert or Asperger. In fact, as Kanner goes on to state, 1938 is when he examined the first child in his case series. An exchange of letters with Despert and later writing by Kanner also point to the originality of his observations.
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Fellowes, S. (2015). Did Kanner actually describe the first account of autism? The mystery of 1938. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. Published on-line, February 5, 2015.
Kanner, L. (1943). Autistic disturbances of affective contact. The Nervous Child, 2(2), 217–250.
Lay, R. A. Q. (1938). Schizophrenia-like psychoses in young children. Journal of Mental Science, 84, 105–133.
Leo Kanner letter to Ernest Harms, January 19, 1942, in APA archives.
Leo Kanner to Louise Despert, July 15, 1943, letter, APA archives.
Louise Despert to Leo Kanner, July 12, 1943, letter, APA archives.
Louise Despert to Leo Kanner, undated letter, APA archives.
- Leo Kanner’s Mention of 1938 in His Report on Autism Refers to His First Patient
- Springer US