Autism − Does it Exist as a Distinct Form of Disability?
Kanner (1943) first provided a clear account of the syndrome of 'infantile autism', describing a distinct group of children different from other recognised clinical populations. Since this time the diagnosis of autism has undergone much evolution and controversy, a detailed account of which can be found in Schreibman (1988). Over the years autism has been considered a variety of things including a mental illness, an emotional disurbance, a personality disorder, a communication disorder, a mental handicap, a social communication disorder, a developmental disability and, more recently, an information processing problem or a sensory perceptual problem (Williams, 1996). Professionals, therefore, have a variety of views regarding autism despite the fact that many of them agreed on the same identifiable symptoms for diagnosis.