Skip to main content

The Importance of Getting Kanner’s Account Right in Debates over First Descriptions of Autism

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  1. Frankl was actually Asperger's teacher, not chief diagnostician (Harris 2016, p. 732).


  • Anon. [author’s name not give]. (1960, July). The Child is Father. Time Retrieved March 11, 2020, from

  • Chown, N. (2010). History and first descriptions' of autism: A response to Michael Fitzgerald. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 42(10), 2263–2265.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Chown, N., & Hughes, L. (2016). History and first descriptions of autism: Asperger versus Kanner revisted. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 46, 2270–2272.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Darr, G. C., & Worden, F. G. (1951). Case report twenty eight years after an infantile autistic disorder. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 21(3), 559–570.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Donvan, J., & Zucker, C. (2016). In a different key. New York: Broadway Books.

    Google Scholar 

  • Evans, B. (2017). The metamorphosis of autism. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Eyal, G., Hart, B., Onculer, E., Oren, N., & Rossi, N. (2010). The autism matrix. Cambridge: Polity Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Feinstein, A. (2010). A history of autism: Conversations with the pioneers. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Fellowes, S. (2017). Putting the present in the history of autism. Studies in the History and Philosophy of the Biological and Biomedical Sciences, 61, 54–58.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Harris, J. (2016). Book forum: Neurotribe and in a different key. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 55(8), 729–735.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Jacobsen, K. (2010). Diagnostic politics: The curious case of Kanner’s syndrome. History of Psychiatry, 21(4), 436–454.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kanner, L. (1973). How far can autistic children go in matters of social adaption. In L. Kanner (Ed.), Child psychiatry: Initial studies and new insights. New York: Winston & Sons.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kanner, L., & Eisenberg, L. (1956). Childhood schizophrenia symposium 1955: Early infantile autism. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 26(3), 556–566.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kanner, L., & Lesser, L. I. (1958). Early infantile autism. Pediatric Clinic North America, 5(3), 711–730.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lyons, V., & Fitzgerald, M. (2007). Asperger (1906–1980) and Kanner (1894–1981), the two pioneers of autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 37(10), 2022–2023.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Raz, M. (2014). Deprived of touch: How maternal and sensory deprivation theory converged in shaping early debates over autism. History of the Human Sciences, 27(75), 75–97.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Robinson, J., & E., (2016). Kanner, Asperger, and Frankl: A third man at the genesis of the autism diagnosis. Autism, 21(7), 1–10.

    Google Scholar 

  • Silberman, S. (2015). Neurotribes. London: Atlantic Books.

    Google Scholar 

  • Silverman, C. (2012). Understanding autism: Parents, doctors, and the history of a disorder. New Jersey: Princeton University Press.

    Google Scholar 

Download references


I would like to thank Rachel Cooper, Alan Collins and Jane Pitt who read and offered advice on earlier drafts of this article. My research is funded by a scholarship from The Wellcome Trust [Grant No. 209868/Z/17/Z].

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Sam Fellowes.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Fellowes, S. The Importance of Getting Kanner’s Account Right in Debates over First Descriptions of Autism. J Autism Dev Disord 50, 4329–4330 (2020).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: