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Spectrum: Autism Research News

Special Reports Curated collections of articles on special topics in autism.

Special report: The new history of autism

by  /  7 November 2022

The history of science has long overlooked contributions from underrepresented groups — and the history of autism research is no exception. For 40 years, virtually every story about the field’s origins has starred Leo Kanner and Hans Asperger, who are credited with writing, in 1943 and 1944, respectively, the earliest accounts of autism as a distinct diagnosis.

More recently, however, historians have begun to excavate the work of several women and Jewish clinicians that enabled, and in at least one case, predated, Kanner and Asperger’s famous descriptions. In “The new history of autism” — broken into three parts here and published sequentially on Monday, Wednesday and Friday this week — journalist David Dobbs tells the stories of these forgotten scientists in detail.

Spectrum’s enterprise editor, Brady Huggett, talked to Dobbs about his research, and a recording of that interview appears on Tuesday. A photo gallery in this special report also reveals rare images of Grunya Sukhareva, a central character in Dobbs’ story, that were discovered in 2020 at a center named after her in Moscow, Russia.

Other articles from our own archives explore the prescient accuracy of Sukhareva’s 1925 description of autism, as well as Kanner’s seminal paper and Asperger’s Nazi ties.

Cite this article: https://doi.org/10.53053/GSEC2311

Featured Articles

Black and white photograph of Grunya Sukhareva in a delicate collage of squares and circles on a cream colored background.

The new history of autism, part I

by  /  7 November 2022

For decades, two figures have dominated the history of autism studies. Today, newly excavated documents are calling into question the primacy of these men as founders of the field.

Black and white portrait of Hans Asperger against an abstract background.

The new history of autism, part II

by  /  9 November 2022

For decades, two figures have dominated the history of autism studies. Today, newly excavated documents are calling into question the primacy of these men as founders of the field.

Black and white photograph of Leo Kanner in a delicate collage of squares and circles on a cream colored background.

The new history of autism, part III

by  /  11 November 2022

For decades, two figures have dominated the history of autism studies. Today, newly excavated documents are calling into question the primacy of these men as founders of the field.

Sepia toned photo of Grunya Sukhareva in 1928

From the archives: Rare photos of Grunya Sukhareva

by  /  7 November 2022

Recently uncovered images show the famous Soviet child psychologist in the clinic and training colleagues.

Triangle that looks like a play button in a delicate collage of squares and circles on a cream colored background.

Writing a ‘new history of autism’

by  /  8 November 2022

Spectrum talks with David Dobbs about researching his latest article, and what he found.

From The Archives

A collage shows a black and white portrait of Russian doGrunya Efimovna Sukhareva on a colored background.
Vienna children's hospital, children in sun hats with attendants outdoors on chaise lounges and chairs.