Date of Award

Spring 2013

First Advisor

John Yost


"In October of 1938, Dr. Leo Kanner, an Austrian native who had founded the first children’s psychiatry clinic at Johns Hopkins University eight years prior, received a thirty-three page letter from a disgruntled and worried father about his son who he referred to as Donald T. The letter explained to Dr. Kanner several aspects of the child in gripping detail, stating that Donald T “was happiest when he was alone…drawn into a shell and living with himself…oblivious to everything round him. He had a mania for spinning toys and liked to shake his head from side to side and sprint around in circles while having routine tantrums when disrupted” (Fischbach, 2007). It was from this letter that Dr. Kanner initially realized that Donald T. was not at all like many of the other five year old boys with which he had been working. After reading the letter, Kanner requested a meeting with young Donald T., and his initial suspicions about the child were quickly confirmed. Donald T not only showed many of the symptoms that were explained earlier by his father but he also showed several explosive tendencies that included the use of irrelevant words and constant repetition of statements; he also almost always referring to himself in the third person. It was this very meeting with Donald T that led to Dr. Kanner’s further research into the disorder, which would be later named Autism (Fischbach, 2007)."


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