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May 1984


Arch Neurol. 1984;41(5):481. doi:10.1001/archneur.1984.04050170027009

The description of childhood autism is 40 years old,1 but the widespread recognition of the characteristics of autistic behavior and of the magnitude of autism as a health problem is relatively recent. There are numerous reasons that might explain why awareness of the condition and of its consequences has come so slowly. In the minds of the lay public and of the nonspecialized professionals, the term autism conjures the notions of schizoid personality and even schizophrenia, rather than a disorder or group of disorders entirely independent from either. Young autistic patients often have epilepsy or mental retardation, conditions that may easily overshadow the signs of autism. Even a brief look at the fundamental manifestations of autism will show how careful the history taking and observation must be to bring symptoms into the forefront and to interconnect them meaningfully. The following are the cardinal manifestations of autism: failure to develop normal

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