Encyclopedia of Autism Spectrum Disorders

Living Edition
| Editors: Fred R. Volkmar


  • Sigvard LinghEmail author
Living reference work entry

Latest version View entry history

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-6435-8_102035-2

Autism: Definition

The word autism comes from the Greek word “auto” and can be translated to selfish-ism. The autism spectrum is also called autism spectrum disorders (ASD) or autism spectrum conditions (ASC), with the adjective autistic sometimes replacing the noun autism.


Autism is a spectrum of psychological conditions characterized by widespread abnormalities of social interactions and communication as well as restricted interests and repetitive behavior (http://www.statemaster.com/encyclopedia/Asperger-Syndrome). Asperger’s syndrome can be seen as a mild form of autism, and in DSM-5, Asperger’s was moved to sort under autism.

Natural History

Autism was first described in 1911 by Swiss psychiatrist Eugen Bleuler (1857–1939) who mentioned, not too distinctly, two forms: schizophrenic autism and infantile autism. Both terms have been taken up by later psychiatrists and applied, confusingly, to a number of apparently different groups of disordered and socially isolated...


Autism Spectrum Disorder Autism Spectrum Disorder Autistic Child Autistic Disorder Autism Spectrum Condition 
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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.UppsalaSweden