April 2 is World Autism Awareness Day, when the world takes part in the puzzle pattern of blue, red, yellow and purple pieces that reflect the complexities and uniqueness of the autism spectrum. There is no better way to celebrate this day than by becoming aware of the characteristics of people with this condition and how all of us can do better to increase our own understanding and promote kindness.
Autism Spectrum Disorder is a developmental disorder characterized by behavioral and communicational affections that impact a person’s ability to navigate social interactions and also causes repetitive and restricted behavior.
The first historical appearance of the word “Autism” was made in 1911 by the psychiatrist Eugen Bleuler, who used the term to describe a specific cluster of symptoms that were considered simple symptoms of schizophrenia as an extreme social withdrawal.
In that order, it was in 1943, when pediatric psychiatrist Dr. Leo Kanner characterized Autism as a social and emotional disorder in his article “Autistic Disturbances of Affective Contact”, and in 1944 Hans Asperger published his “Autism Psychopathology Article” where he described autism as a disorder of normal intelligence children who have difficulties with social and communication skills. These articles were an important contribution to the studies that helped to classified Autism as a disorder separate from schizophrenia in 1980.
With the continuous investigation and research on autism, World Autism Awareness Day was set to April 2 of each year by the “United Nations General Assembly” on “Resolution 62/139” and adopted on December 18 of 2007, to encourage member states to take action in raising awareness about people with autism spectrum disorder and support the research finding new ways to improve wellness and inclusion.
Finally, the notion of autism as a spectrum was developed in 2013 by the “American Psychiatric Association” in the fifth edition of the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders” by combining all subcategories of autism and related conditions into one unified category, including varied characteristics, severity, and presentation of the symptoms.